The joint statement speaks of concerns regarding practices adopted by a number of providers in facilitating onshore student transfers between institutions, by offering excessively low fees and downgraded study assurances that may not satisfy Australian educational or industry expectations.
The statement states that with such practices, “the objects of the Education Services for Overseas Students Framework – which include the need to protect and enhance Australia’s reputation for quality education and training – are at risk of not being upheld”.
Speaking to The PIE, Troy Williams, CEO of ITECA said that the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency and the Australian Skills Quality Authority should carefully monitor enrolments “at a time when international borders are closed”.
“We want to see students committed to their studies, free from undue influence of change providers”
“They need to get to the bottom as to why a provider suddenly has an immediate increase in onshore student enrolments,” he suggested.
As the peak body representing independent providers in both the higher education and vocational training sectors, ITECA is “committed to ensuring that international students get the highest quality education”, he continued.
“We want to see students committed to their studies, free from undue influence of change providers.”
The joint statement suggests that although these practices may be undertaken by a cohort of operators, it can have a cascading effect on the sector as a whole.
At a time when the onshore international student numbers have been rapidly declining and the sector is battling hard to “rebuild out of the pandemic”, such disingenuous practices could lead to “tarnishing the reputation of Australian international education”.
Speaking to The PIE on this issue, Jenny Dodd, interim CEO of TAFE Directors Australia said that “as public providers, TAFEs are committed to ensuring all international students receive a quality education outcome”.
In his comments to The PIE, Williams also highlighted “the need to provide a stronger framework for the regulation of international student agents”.
With record low numbers of international student commencements in tertiary education over the past 18 months, Australia’s HE providers are grappling with a number of issues. The sector needs to uphold its quality assurance and standards more than ever.
Capturing this sentiment, the statement proposes a series of steps for the government and regulatory bodies going forward.
This includes a multi-agency committee comprising government departments, peak body representatives, and regulatory bodies analysing international student, provider, and onshore agent data to make policy recommendations for eliminating negative practices and suggest process improvements.
ITECA has also called on government to create a framework for onshore international student agents.