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ACPET Australian Political Leadership Needed to Stop International Education Destruction

Leadership Needed to Stop International Education Destruction

The following Media Release was issued by ACPET today:

Immigration changes have stopped growth in Australia’s international education sector in its tracks, and will send Australia’s third largest export industry into decline next year if urgent action isn’t taken to support the industry, according to new economic modelling released today by the Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET).

The modelling reveals that the industry, which has grown at 12% per annum for the past ten years, consistent with a trend of global growth n international education, has already been brought to a standstill by migration changes, and will start going backwards next year by at least 5%.

ACPET CEO, Andrew Smith, said no major party has promised any support for international education in the lead-up to the federal election, which is unforgiveable given the scale of economic destruction the industry faces at the hands of poorly planned policy reform.

“The Federal Government has crippled this industry over the past 12 months. The opposition’s cuts to migration would make things even worse.  When will our leaders wake up and realise just how much is at stake in this industry?” Mr Smith said. “International education is a great industry for Australia and the region – economically, socially and diplomatically.”

“There are hundreds of high quality private institutions around the
country who will provide first-rate education to prospective students if only the Government would provide the leadership that is needed.”

“We have seen in the past week promises to support Australia’s tourism industry through a difficult period, which ACPET agrees is an important initiative.

“Yet it beggars belief that the larger international education sector
has been ignored by both major political parties as they choose instead to trade blows in a race to the bottom on migration policy that could cripple industry, devastate our international reputation and take away Australian jobs,” Mr Smith said.

“I challenge Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott to show their support for
Australia’s third-largest export industry and one of its great export
success stories, and announce policies to help us build a sustainable industry for the future.”

2010 Federal Election ACPET Member Update

Too Close to Call’

As we rounded the halfway mark in the 2010 Federal Election this week, pollsters and commentators began polishing their lenses for what looks destined to be a photo finish.

Most polls are revealing a recent slump in support for Julia Gillard’s
Labor Government on a two party preferred basis, which has put the Government in a neck & neck fight with the Coalition to retain power.

Several commentators are calling the election too close to call at this stage, and the Reuters Poll Trend, which uses data from Morgan, Newspoll and Nielsen to create a fortnightly average, led AAP to report that chances are growing for a hung parliament

Politics of Personality Persist

Whether it amounts to a help, a hindrance, or simply a nuisance, remains to be seen, but this week the personalities of our political leaders were on display more prominently than their policies.

Early in the week, Julia Gillard declared that she would throw off the shackles of a traditional ‘risk-averse’ campaign in order to introduce voters to the real, ‘feisty Julia’, which she did by spending the day on the press bus on her campaign tour rather than her own.

Tony Abbott, meanwhile, responded with an appeal to voters that he was a ‘known quantity’, calling on the ‘real Julia Gillard’ to ‘please stand up’.

Then, it was time for past leaders of both parties to enter the fray.
John Howard joined the Coalition campaign trail and delivered an
impassioned plea for Tony Abbott’s election, while Kevin Rudd returned to the campaign trail to help sure up the ALP’s worrying numbers in QLD, announcing triumphantly that he had put the nature of his removal from office behind him and was now dedicated to campaigning for the re-election of a Gillard Labor Government.

While stunts like these may be straight from the campaign handbook, they didn’t stop a growing number of commentators asking when Australian voters would see as much emphasis on policies as personality. This is of particular concern for our sector.

Policy Vacuum Persists for Education Sector

With less than half the campaign ahead of us, there still has not been a single policy announcement that indicates either major party is
committed to supporting quality private tertiary education institutions.

This omission is simply not good enough for the 1.4 million students and 95,800 staff who make up our industry.

In the next week, ACPET will redouble its efforts to advocate for both major parties to publicly announce their policies regarding our sector. I encourage you to do the same.

Please continue to utilise the resources on the ACPET 2010 Election micro-site and take action by contacting your local MP and candidates to put forward your views.

Voters in Australia are rightly entitled to have a clear understanding of the major parties’ positions on the issues that matter most to them.

Migration Debates Continues Race to the Bottom

Both major parties’ stances on migration issues continues to be a great disappointment to ACPET, along with both our peers across the tertiary and vocational education sectors and within the broader business community of Australia.

Australia’s political leaders continue to risk widespread economic
destruction, crippling skills shortages and immeasurable damage to our global reputation through the mishandling of immigration policy and a continued lack of appreciation or acknowledgement of the real economic and social benefits that all students bring to Australia.

This week, ACPET will aggressively advocate for the international
education sector through the release of new analysis commissioned by ACPET from Allen Consulting Group.

The analysis shows international education, which has grown consistently with global trends by 12% pa in Australia for ten years, will stop growing in 2010 and decline in 2011/12, costing Australia at least $1.2 billion and 11,000 jobs.

Leadership in the form of a clear and unequivocal statement about the value of international education and a commitment to build a sustainable industry for the future is critical.

In the coming days we will be sharing a summary of the latest analysis with members, so I encourage you all to use the analysis as an additional resource, and join ACPET in putting your views to your local member or candidate.

One could argue that the private industry has done little over the years to explain benefits to Australians (while state sector is secretive), thus popular myths persisted e.g. international students (assumed all are from Asia…) get free study at expense of Australians, accommodation benefits, automatic PR, take jobs from Australians etc.

Unfortunately, the industry has become “collateral damage” due to political debate or “dog whistling” mediated by politicians, parts of the media and informers e.g. Dr. Bob Birrell, Dick Smith, Kelvin Thompson, Kevin Andrews, Bob Carr, Tim Flanagan, Andrew Bolt etc. who have conflated all related issues whether for racial, environmental or purely cynical political power reasons (is it any coincidence that these anti population protagonists are all “skips”? Surely not imposing their cultural view of Australia upon us all?).

Attention may come too late, and will only come when industry woes start effecting wider Australian society e.g. increases in domestic fees, reduced rental demand, further falls in related tourism visitors, skill shortages, inflationary pressure on wages in service sector etc.

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