Australia joint committee presents plan for international education sector recovery

Recommendations put forth by the committee are based on evidence gathered from a diverse range of sources, including experts from various regions of Australia, educational institutions, educators, students, and migration agents. These recommendations are a reflection of the insights and perspectives shared during the inquiry.

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The Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence, and Trade in Australia has presented 29 recommendations to the government, aiming to assist the international education sector to “rebuild and reset” and establish sustainable growth following the pandemic.

Australian international education recovery

The much-anticipated initial report from the group’s trade subcommittee has been eagerly awaited since the government initiated an inquiry into the sector’s recovery in October 2022.

Recommendations put forth by the committee are based on evidence gathered from a diverse range of sources, including experts from various regions of Australia, educational institutions, educators, students, and migration agents. These recommendations are a reflection of the insights and perspectives shared during the inquiry.

Team Australia branding

International students are greatly appreciated in Australia for their significant economic, social, and diplomatic contributions while pursuing their education at Australian institutions. The trade committee suggests that adopting a “Team Australia” approach to marketing and branding would be beneficial for the international education sector.

Supervising education agents

According to the inquiry, the government should explore the most efficient means of supervising education agents, given their significant role in providing advice for temporary migration and serving vulnerable clients. Additionally, the model chosen should ensure adherence to a single code of ethical practice for education agents, which outlines the expected standards for all education agents collaborating with Australian educational institutions.

Education providers should also have access to all information about education agents through the Provider Registration and International Student Management System, and it should be obligatory to disclose any commissions and other payments to students, it added.

More focused communication is required to inform international students about their rights and responsibilities while studying in Australia, as well as the obligations of providers and education agents towards the students.

“There is an opportunity to also focus on students and their wellbeing, and opportunities to use new methods of supporting students and teaching methods while also ensuring the educational experience in Australia is a rich and rewarding one,” said Senator Deborah O’Neill, chair of the trade subcommittee.

Additionally, the report suggests including questions about education agents in the Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching Surveys to gather more detailed information about the interactions between agents and students.

International student experience in Australia

The recommendations put forth also propose that the Australian government should explore the possibility of distinguishing visa applications for international students who opt to study at TAFEs. Furthermore, the government should conduct a thorough review and enhancement of safeguards for international students to enable them to safely report instances of workplace exploitation.

During the recent AIEC conference in Adelaide, MP Julian Hill emphasized the need to maximize homestay and purpose-built student accommodation to address housing shortages in specific regions.

The paper also recommends that homestay options should be promoted to foster stronger connections between international students and Australian society. Additionally, authorities should raise awareness about the tax advantages for Australians who host up to two international students.

MP Julian Hill suggested that the education sector should prioritize countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, and South and Central America, including Nigeria, Kenya, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Brazil, Colombia, and Chile, as potential markets for international education.

Reforms in the VET sector

The subcommittee recommends that the Australian government take firm action to address integrity issues in the private Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector, emphasizing the need for major reforms in international student assessment, particularly within the sector. To combat unlawful behavior, regulators were asked to establish an integrity unit in the VET sector and create a tip-off line for whistleblowers.

The Australian federal government plans to allocate AUD 37.8 million (approximately USD 23.84 million) for a comprehensive “compliance blitz” in response to concerns related to fraudulent activities and threats to the VET sector. Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O’Connor, announced this initiative during a National Press Club address.

The concurrent enrollment ban, which was announced in August, along with the ban on onshore commissions for transferring students, was implemented to close loopholes that allowed students to access work opportunities.

Nathan Yasis

Nathan Yasis

Nathan studied information technology and secondary education in college. He dabbled in and taught creative writing and research to high school students for three years before settling in as a digital journalist.

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Nathan Yasis

Nathan Yasis

Nathan studied information technology and secondary education in college. He dabbled in and taught creative writing and research to high school students for three years before settling in as a digital journalist.

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