Sydney’s action plan, released in August, centres around the three themes of welcoming; well-being; and work-integrated learning, which it says has a combined effect of benefiting students and the city itself.
“The scale and pace of Southeast Asia’s economic development is exciting”
“Our role as a city is to look after international students, many of whom are away from their families for the first time,” Sydney mayor Clover Moore said.
“We need to make sure they know where to go when they need support, and give them opportunities to explore our city and make connections with their peers.”
Speaking with The PIE News, Moore said the action plan would benefit Sydney and create “lifelong relationships” between the city and students as competition from other cities and countries increase.
Among the initiatives identified, the action plan set out goals to develop a welcome program and extend StudyNSW’s airport welcome service. Alumni relations also feature heavily in the strategy.
To combat exploitation, it also outlines plans for whole-of-sector advocacy for safe and legal accommodation, which is increasingly becoming a concern.
“The City is working hard to ensure that international students are better informed about their housing and tenancy rights,” the report reads.
But the city did not pretend all issues can be instantly solved, and makes it clear that practices such as sharing accommodation are perfectly normal.
“We have also launched education campaigns to encourage them to accept that they may have to share accommodation,” it added.
The actions plan also outlines the intention to create quantitative and qualitative measures to gauge its success, however it is so far unclear what those measures could be.
Meanwhile, neighbouring state Victoria has launched ‘Globally Connected: Victoria’s Southeast Asia Trade and Investment Strategy’, which identifies growing opportunities for international education in the region.
Encompassing a wide range of industries, the strategy also sets out plans to increase TAFE and university connections with ASEAN countries and build up its networks of alumni.
“The scale and pace of Southeast Asia’s economic development, growth of middle class, shift to urban centres and adoption of new technologies provide exciting prospects for cross-sectoral engagement,” said Victorian minister for trade and investment Philip Dalidakis.
“We urge the [Australian] government to commit additional development assistance support towards regional harmonisation of common occupational standards in Southeast Asia to enhance opportunities for our vocational institutions.”
With four directives on facilitating entry; promoting Victorian capabilities; identifying emerging opportunities; and strengthening ties, the strategy is being interpreted as an attempt to diversify the state’s export ties.
Victoria, like all of Australia, currently has a significant proportion of its student cohort from India and China, leading to discussions of the long term viability of the international education industry.
The strategy also identifies Indonesia as an emerging market, which is expected to become the fourth largest economy by 2050.
“The Victorian Government is focused on deepening and strengthening engagement with Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand,” the report reads.
“These countries are experiencing strong economic growth and are open to enhancing two-way economic ties.”
The Australian International Education Conference will take place in Sydney on October themed Empowering the next generation.