Australian International Education News
AUSTRALIA: Tackling the fall in international education. Australia saw a huge rise in international students from 1990 but policy changes, prompted by a number of issues including document fraud, have resulted in a dramatic fall-off in recent months.
AUSTRALIA: Doors open to foreign students. Australia’s 39 universities are preparing for a brand new day in 2012: not only will government quotas on the number of local students they enrol be lifted, but they will also be able to recruit as many foreigners as they wish through a new fast-track visa system. In a generous move that surprised even sceptical vice-chancellors, government decided to lift most restrictions on issuing visas to overseas students, opening the way for a likely flood of new applications from China, India, Pakistan and other Asian countries.
International students and the law of unintended consequences. UNIVERSITIES are jubilant about the federal government’s response to the Knight Review of the student visa program. The Group of Eight says the planned changes will enable Australian universities “to compete more effectively in the global market” by increasing “Australia’s attractiveness as a study destination.” Universities Australia headlined its press release“Knight Review a Boon to Higher Education.”
Behind the scenes, university finance officers will be breathing deep sighs of relief. Labor’s previous changes to international education had significantly reduced the income stream from international enrolments; now, the flow of dollars is expected to pick up again. (Providers of vocational education and training are far less excited because the changes do little to bolster their prospects of attracting new students. TAFE Directors Australia detected confirmation of an “inherent bias towards universities in international education.”)
These measures might well help cash-strapped universities, but they have some worrying characteristics in common with the international education policies of the Howard government. As we now know, those policies – which were designed to encourage education “exports,” help plug the growing funding gap faced by universities and reduce skills shortages in the labour market – had unforeseen consequences. They led to an explosion of private colleges offering sometimes dubious vocational courses that promised the shortest route to permanent residency. They not only devalued the reputation of Australia’s education system and distorted the migration intake, they also created a perception in the community that international students were manipulative and devious – despite the fact that the vast majority were simply playing the game by the rules drawn up by the Australian government.
AIEC QUEST Australian International Education Centre.