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Australian International Education Services Christopher Pyne

Recently the Department of Education with Minister Christopher Pyne developed a draft national strategy for international education, and since then various news reports have referred to this strategy.  However, many do not view the draft as a strategy but merely a list of aspirations and wishes or objectives, lacking anything about how this strategy should be executed, the ‘emperor has no clothes’?


From the AFR Australian Financial Review: Christopher Pyne jumps on the international educationbandwagon.   Education observed as resource exports fall, the federal government is getting right behind the strongly growing international student business.

It is any wonder that Education Minister Christopher Pyne is very keen to put some focus on Australia’s education exports? 

At a time when resource exports are falling, the standout performer among Australia’s top export industries is education, worth $17.5 billion a year. To be sure, it’s not at the level of coal at about $40 billion, or the top performer iron ore at over $70 billion, but education is the third-largest export, bigger than any other commodity or manufactured export, and ahead of tourism (worth $14.5 billion a year) as a service export.

It also has the virtue of being in a strong growth phase, still lifting strongly after the slump (driven by the high dollar and safety concerns) that set in, in 2010.

Nearly 600,000 were enrolled in onshore educational institutions last year, including 250,000 in universities. This year’s total number of student enrolments is 11.2 per cent ahead of last year in the four months up to April.​….

….The commission also focused on the very extensive use of education agents by Australian universities and colleges to recruit international students. “The commission received considerable anecdotal evidence that suggested unscrupulous behaviour of agents is an issue,” its report said.

These would be the threats, but there are also opportunities. While Trade Minister Andrew Robb was not at the round table he conveyed, via Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, that he is still backing the ambitious goal that he floated while in opposition, that it is possible for Australia to be educating 10 million international students through online courses.

It’s a big goal and we wait with interest to see whether Robb can come up with a strategy to pull it off.’


Fact checking or elaboration on statements accepted as fact from or by politicians, media and the international education industry:

  • Education exports were growing but were hamstrung or stymied by concerted media campaigns in cooperation with the white nativist lobby stereotyping negatively the international education sector, while leaders in the same sector remained silent.  This negative focus centred around agents, international students, immigration, visas, private colleges, quality standards, population growth/NOM impact upon environment and infrastructure, cheating, property prices etc. resulting in visa and immigration restrictions.  However, no one scrutinised the fact that the industry is managed by Australians as is the quality system, visas and immigration, neither international students nor agents.
  • Highlighting ‘enrolments’ which can be short and rolling multiple for same student and e.g. enrolment for 12 weeks of English cannot compare with 2 years of TAFE or 2+ years of university study.
  • Agents contracts that neither outline clearly what are the responsibilities of university’ international managers supposedly training and managing agents, and enforcing recruitment targets, that may lead to aggressive promotion, selling and short cuts (while ignoring all digital marketing channels on campus)?
  • Highlighting MOOCS only shows the digital and technical ignorance of leaders as MOOCS are nothing new; open university, off campus, external, distance and online study have been a fact of life for some time.  If international students are not welcome to study onshore in Australia, why would they bother studying an Australian MOOC vs in country elsewhere, especially when open university degrees etc. are not recognised in many countries?  Is the preference for MOOCS from offshore more about limiting the NOM net overseas migration?
  • Marketing strategies are avoided as someone maybe personally responsible, most prefer that strategy and execution is outsourced to external consultants and agents (sales targets)….. begs the question, what are international managers’ core competencies apart from acting on ‘approved travel plans’ and ‘distribution of marketing materials’, and ignoring digital analysis, again ‘the emperor has no clothes’?

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