Australian Melbourne Sydney International Student Markets Strangled by Federal Government
Student Market Strangled. Victorian PREMIER Ted Baillieu has accused the federal government of ”effectively strangling” the international student market, and will join forces with New South Wales to push for wider changes to visa restrictions.
Only weeks after Canberra announced it would fast-track student visas and give foreign students the right to two years of post-study work – provided they graduate with a university degree – Victoria has branded the move a ”knee-jerk reaction” that will threaten the state’s $5.8 billion international education industry.
Mr Baillieu and his NSW counterpart, Barry O’Farrell, share concerns that the reforms focus too much on universities and not enough on the vocational education sector, where falling enrolments are the most severe.
The Liberal premiers are expected to use the next Council of Australian Governments meeting to challenge Prime Minister Julia Gillard to further ease visa restrictions, with Victoria arguing the changes should be based on the type of qualification students get, not just that it comes from a university.
AIEC QUEST Australian International Education Centre. Fee paying international education in Australia has been round for decades but became more significant due to Dawkins policy of 80s under Labor to subsidise domestic places and internationalise education, and increased further under Howard government which also included immigration carrots. All quite logical with need for increased export income (with trade deficits), ageing population, decreasing tax base, skills shortages etc. yet it was the private English and vocational sectors which had growth higher than universities while TAFEs started offering degrees to international and domestic students. However, when Labor came into power international education became victim of xenophobic politics and societal attitudes when it was conflated, negatively, with issues such as immigration, refugees, perceptions of widespread (yet in reality limited) rorting, population growth (international students and other temporaries included in data), unemployment, rising house prices, environment, social cohesion, stressed infrastructure etc. Result was government panicking and yielding to vested interests including anti immigration and environment lobbies, trade unions etc. by suspending offshore immigration and making study to PR applications, and visa much more difficult, especially if vocational. The Skilled Occupation List (SOL) was updated to exclude cookery, hairdressing etc. and while points system now precluded generic business degrees offering required minimum points, accounting remained on SOL which if it had not, would have been catastrophic for university income. Since then population growth has flatlined, (related) international tourism has plummetted, English and VET numbers too, while universities are expecting significant drops in new commencements from offshore thus requiring support from government, and estimated 10,000 have lost work and/or income in the education industry (but most casualised on short term contracts thus not unionised so that's alright then). Since then the government, DEEWR and DIAC have been lobbied by other vested interests which exemplify the incestuous nature of Australian government, public service and business i.e. universities, IDP recruitment and IELTS testing (owned by universities and SEEK), and another publicly listed company Navitas who have monopoly on significant number of university pathways who need to keep share price up and pay dividends. Meanwhile it appears that neither ACPET nor TAFE lobbied, or were simply ineffectual i.e. "not connected" using the Oz argot. Late 2010 private college personnel promoting offshore were informed by Navitas personnel (who had a "heads up" one month before official) that visa application requirements would be eased for higher education pathways which directly benefitted universities, Navitas, Study Group (another private company then up for sale providing university pathways via Taylor's Colleges onto University of Sydney etc.), and to a much more limited extent TAFEs. The losers were private providers of English and VET who coincidentally had become competition for TAFE and universities both internationally and domestically, while the Gillard government's rhetoric was that university education good and high quality, while vocational bad and low quality. Further, according to Gillard government genuine international students study for sake of study while non genuine students expect employment and PR for a skills shortage occupation, very egalitarian! Now through the Knight Review, though admirable (e.g. international students did not design the previous system thus not to blame), has made recommendations on student visas that again clearly and primarily offer advantages to universities where it appears e.g. students from large markets such as India and China, which were previously high risk, will have the application process eased and similar to that used for Europeans i.e. AL1. However, if same student wants to study e.g. same AQF accredited bachelor of business degree in a good quality private college the visa system remains like existing system, i.e. difficult and expensive, ditto ELICOS and VET. Apparently English and VET visas will be looked at next year...... just to make sure university gets a head start.... Also goes to show that popularity of Australia and e.g. Melbourne was not due to great marketing skills and strategies but pull factors which the government controls. The government has also warned universities that they will be directly responsible for compliance i.e. student welfare, overstays etc. but this then begs the question, what were they and the regulators doing before?