English Australia outlines future scenarios

13 February, 2014

Australia’s language school peak body, English Australia, has produced a report that identifies four possible future scenarios for the sector, designed to help members to proactively plan ahead.




The report, Elicos Industry Scenario Planning 2014-2019, summarises the outcomes of a scenario planning workshop held by the association in December last year, which considered the broad range of forces acting on the sector and likely to act in the future and led to a matrix outlining the two key forces as “competitiveness” and “alignment”.

English Australia Executive Director, Sue Blundell, said, “This has been an exciting piece of work to develop. By naming relevant, challenging, plausible and clear scenarios for the future, we can enable consideration about what might be done proactively to influence the future towards desired outcomes, and what factors that are beyond direct influence might require mitigation or preparation action.”

The first scenario, Drowning, not Waving, is the bleakest for the sector, envisioning uncoordinated and contradictory policy settings, a burdensome focus on risk, a divided industry, weakened association and a shrinking number of providers delivering similar programmes. “The Australia educational offering is small, stale and unexciting,” states the report’s projection.

Sink or Swim imagines a focus on competition and market forces, leading to the formation of highly successful consortia and private equity investment driving smaller providers out of business and gaining the ear of government as the peak bodies are marginalised.

The third scenario, Missed the Boat, anticipates strong alignment but an overly bureaucratic approach compromising the responsiveness of the industry. “Real innovation doesn’t happen fast enough and Australia loses much of its market share,” states the report.

The most positive future projection, Smooth Sailing, envisages strong alignment and focus on best practice, facilitating “a flexible approach to innovate and capitalise on opportunities resulting in strong overall growth across the Australian international education sector”.

Blundell said the document was being widely circulated to member colleges and a range of stakeholders, and urged industry actors to inform themselves of these future possible circumstances.

“We anticipate that the scenarios will provide a common language and frame of reference about future possibilities and the forces that may act to shape the industry, for good or bad. English Australia will be using the scenarios as input to our current strategic planning process and will be discussing the implications further with member colleges as we determine our strategic focus for the next three years,” she said.

The full report is available here


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