Australian commencements continue recovery

June 04, 2013

Year-to-date commencements of international students in Australia continued to grow in April, according to the latest data released by Australian Education International, while the government has also announced a red-tape review to reduce the administrative burden on higher education institutions.

Source - Australian Education International: Data on international commencements in Australia

The 134,855 commencements up to April this year represented a 2.9 per cent growth over the same period last year. In terms of sectors, there were increases in higher education (4.1 per cent), Elicos (10.6) and schools (4.1). However, the VET sector suffered a 5.9 per cent decline.

Year-to-date enrolments stood at 356,993 in April, a 2.9 per cent decline; all sectors recorded a decrease with the exception of Elicos, which achieved 13.2 per cent growth.

Despite a 2.8 per cent decline, China remained comfortably the largest source market, with 108,412 students representing 30.4 of all international enrolments. Of the top five source countries, only Vietnam registered growth in enrolments – 5.8 per cent. The largest increases were recorded by Spain (39.6 per cent), Italy (31.2) and the Philippines (21.7).

Meanwhile, Tertiary Education Minister, Craig Emerson, and Higher Education and Skills Minsiter, Sharon Bird, have announced a review of regulatory compliance and reporting, which will make recommendations on the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency’s (Teqsa) approach to regulation.

“Universities have told us that their administrative burden is too great. We take these views seriously and that’s why we’re taking action,” said Bird. The review will also evaluate a model of ‘earned autonomy’, where providers with a history of excellence and achievement are largely exempt from reporting requirements.

Rod Jones, CEO of global education provider Navitas, welcomed the announcement. “This new review is a golden opportunity to get it right, to create a system that rewards high-quality higher education providers, while ensuring that adequate regulation is focused on providers that need further support to produce good outcomes.”

Jones said that all education and training providers faced significant regulatory burden and called for the review to extend across sectors. “Any recommendations to reduce the dead weight of unnecessary regulation coming out of this review should also be applied to all education sectors, not just higher education.” He added that the review should also be expanded to include the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), as many educators are multi-sector providers.

Jones recently wrote in Study Travel Magazine about Australia’s regulatory overburden in the international education sector.

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