“In addition to the $45.2m of support measures announced alongside the new strategy, the Australian government will now deliver $10m worth of initiatives to be funded under the International Education Innovation Fund,” said Australia’s acting minister for Education and Youth, Stuart Robert.
“These initiatives will support the international education sector to reach new markets, pilot innovative new products, and align educational opportunities with Australia’s identified skills shortages,” he said.
Robert further emphasised that “the strategy was the result of extensive public consultation about the future of Australian international education”. The International Education Innovation Fund provides “an important next step to recover and grow Australia’s largest services sector”, he continued.
The international education sector has welcomed the investment by the government towards aiding the recovery of the sector post the pandemic and in the coming years.
Phil Honeywood, CEO of the International Education Association of Australia, who played a key role in the formulation of Australia’s 10-year international education strategy as the convener of the Expert Members of the Council for International Education of the country, shared his keen insight on this topic with The PIE.
“As with many stakeholders, IEAA welcomes this long overdue government investment package to support our beleaguered international education community,” he said.
“The second very welcome element is a new $8m fund to develop up to 70 micro-credentials for international delivery”
“There are two key funding components that are worth highlighting. The first is the provision of $10m for six key initiatives that flow from recommendations of our new National Strategy 2021-2030. Particularly welcome are funds to pilot innovative TNE products, to deliver critical skills courses in partner countries and to develop a best practice guide on international student engagement,” Honeywood noted.
“The second very welcome element is a new $8m fund to develop up to 70 micro-credentials for international delivery. These will be designed for delivery online and offshore, and will target both domestic and international students. It is hoped that they will act as a pipeline for overseas students to get introduced to the Australian education system and be encouraged to then undertake further study with one of our education providers,” he added.
The $10m fund will provide thrust on supporting post-doctoral placements for the best and brightest international students from across the region; identifying opportunities for diversification across the international education sector; and piloting innovative transnational education products.
It will also aim to initiate a pilot of a set of VET micro-credentials targeted at international students to meet identified skills gaps, in addition to delivering critical skills courses in partner countries and towards developing a best practice guide for the sector on international student engagement.
“International education is highly competitive and has become even more so during the Covid-19 pandemic. Australia’s closed borders have seen a decline in Australia as a priority destination country to our competitors’ benefit,” Group of Eight chief executive, Vicki Thomson, told The PIE.
“The government’s recent announcement to invest $10m in new international education initiatives is recognition of the impact of Covid-19 and an important first step towards a partnership approach to rebuilding our sector,” she added.
“The Go8 particularly welcomes support for post-doctoral placements for international students, which recognises the critical importance of research talent to Australian industry and the economy. We support the inclusion of Latin America amongst the target regions.
“It also makes sense to build on the success of existing programs, such as the New Colombo Plan”
“While we support the need for new and innovative products, it also makes sense to build on the success of existing programs, such as the New Colombo Plan, which could be adapted to feature two-way reciprocal elements and extended to regions beyond the Asia-Pacific, including Latin America,” Thomson noted.
A Universities Australia spokesperson told The PIE that it “welcomes the government’s announcement of six new initiatives to support the implementation of the Australian Strategy for International Education 2021-2030”.
“We’re pleased to see the government continuing to invest in the international education sector as it emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic,” they said.