Australian peak bodies release action plan

August 20, 2013

Peak bodies in Australia have issued a joint action plan for international education, calling for firm commitments and strong action from all political parties in the lead-up to the forthcoming general election.


“International education in Australia is at a crucial turning point,” said the bodies in a joint communiqué that cited a lack of government support for the industry, complex regulation and ground being lost to competitor destinations, and called on the future government to “restore Australia’s educational competitiveness” and “embrace a proportionate regulation system”.

The group issued a first communiqué in May urging the government to accept the recommendations of the International Education Advisory Council, and said industry was still awaiting action on this demand. “The time for reviews and studies has passed. Too many already clog the desks and in-boxes of industry decision makers, with good recommendations remaining unimplemented,” said the statement. “It is now time for firm commitments and strong action from the federal government, opposition and all political parties.”

As recently reported, Australia has been labelled the most expensive destination for university study abroad, while students and industry are concerned about accommodation costs.

The action plan calls on parties to enhance Australia’s competitiveness by addressing the costs of visas, which it says are the most expensive in the world and fully implementing the Asian Century White Paper, including funding and a review of labour laws.

Enhanced and coordinated marketing of the international education export industry is called for, including seed funding for international partnerships, assistance for capacity building, greater coordination between agencies and an extension of the Export Market Development Grant to individual institutions to expand their marketing efforts overseas.

“The joint peak bodies believe regulation should be proportionate to provider risk and that low risk providers, whether public or private, should operate within a regulatory regime proportionate to risk,” the report said, calling for transparent criteria in risk assessment to be laid out and for streamlined visa processing (SVP) to be offered to low-risk providers.

In the conclusion to the action plan, the peak bodies said, “Specifically, our credentials as a sector with extensive experience and connections to our neighbours in Asia are poorly utilised. On that basis, international education in all its forms must be given a much higher priority by all political parties.”

The communiqué was jointly issued by: the International Education Association of Australia, the Council of Private Higher Education, the Independent Schools Council of Australia, the Australian Council for Private Education and Training, English Australia and TAFE Directors Australia.
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