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Australia launches advisory council for sector

Building on measures introduced in the wake of the Knight Review to raise international student numbers, Australia is to launch a new council advising on the development of its international education industry.

"Now is the time to develop a strategic vision for an industry which has a critical role to play in our nation’s future."

The International Education Advisory Council (IEAC), which includes 12 eminent figures from Australia’s education and business communities, will contribute to a national strategy to support the growth of IE and provide the government with advice on issues affecting the sector.

Speaking at the English Australia Conference last week, Minister for Tertiary Education, Chris Evans said: “To help secure the future of the international education sector now is the time to develop a strategic vision for an industry which has a critical role to play in our nation’s future.

“It is my hope that the Council will provide a conduit to ensure the government is appraised of the sector’s needs and challenges.”

The news follows the unveiling of measures last month to bolster international education, after stricter immigration rules and a strong Australian dollar caused a dive in international student numbers over the last two years.

These included the easing of student immigration policies and a raft of reforms to improve the rights of international students vein educated by the private sector.

Broaching the issues that had faced the sector in recent years, Evans told the conference that “unfettered and largely unregulated growth” in the international education industry between 2007 and 2009 had done significant damage to Australia’s reputation as a study destination.

The reforms of the Baird review had been necessary, but due to unforeseen economic pressures and competition from the US and UK Australia had been left at a competitive disadvantage since 2009.

However, he said, while the government’s responses to the Knight Review would revive what was one of Australia’s most important industries, they were not to be taken lightly.

“Sustained growth and continued educational quality will only be achieved if the sector remains committed to accepting responsibility for managing the risks. The onus is very squarely on you to ensure continued confidence in Brand Australia.”

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