Australia report shows pathway importance

04 July, 2014

The importance of the English language sector in providing pathways into other areas of international education provision has been highlighted in a study released this week by Australian Education International (AEI), with around two thirds of Elicos student visa-holding students progressing to study at higher education or VET colleges.

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The Study Pathways of International Students in Australia 2012-13 report reveals 33 per cent of the 47,330 Elicos student visa students that completed a course in 2012 went on to study at an Australian higher education institution; 21 per cent progressed onto a VET course; five per cent transitioned to a non-award course; and four per cent went to secondary schools. The remaining 37 per cent studied just an Elicos course.

In terms of individual market trends, 72.2 per cent of Chinese Elicos student visa students – by far the largest nationality cohort - progressed to university study, while 56.3 per cent of Vietnamese and 42 per cent of Saudi students followed the same trajectory. Meanwhile, 53 per cent of Indonesian and 41.8 per cent of Thai student visa Elicos students moved on to VET study.

The study projects that a ten per cent growth in international students completing an Elicos course leads to an additional 1,700 students progressing to higher education and 1,100 moving on to VET colleges.

Given the substantial rise in Elicos-level students in 2013, as previously reported, higher education institutions will be expecting to see good growth of students arriving via Elicos this year.

The nationalities most likely to study Elicos only in 2012 were: Colombian (77.1 per cent); Brazilian (66.8); and Japanese (65.8). However, the Elicos sector recorded a 21 per cent increase in Brazilian students in 2013, with many of the Brazilian students coming through the Science Without Borders programme.

Sue Blundell, Executive Director of English Australia welcomed the findings of the report, “It is great to have such wonderful data that analyses the importance of pathway programs in international education. We know the important role that English language programs play in preparing students for success in further study programs and the data shows how many students value these opportunities.

However, Blundell cautioned that at a time of growth in student numbers, the number of pathway options were under threat. “What we have seen is the introduction of Streamlined Visa Processing making universities more risk averse in relation to approving partners for pathway purposes. It is of great concern that this is narrowing the pathway options for students and damaging what has previously been an area of strength for Australia,” she said.

International students also used the secondary school sector as a pathway to study in other areas: 38 per cent of the 5,892 students aged 17 and over that completed a secondary course in Australia in 2012 moved on to higher education; 10 per cent went on to VET schools; six per cent moved to Elicos; and five per cent to non-award.

Students at the secondary level were more likely to become multi-sector students, with 28.5 per cent going on to study in two further sectors.

Looking at the 68,302 international students that commenced a higher education courses in 2013, the AEI report found that just over half (52 per cent) commenced at this level without prior study in Australia. Over a quarter (28 per cent) of higher education-commencing students progressed via an Elicos programme (24,621 students); nine per cent came from the VET sector, seven per cent from non-award level; and four per cent from schools.

The students most likely to directly commence at university level were predictably those from Asian countries where English is more widely spoken: Singapore, Malaysia, India and Nepal.

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