Giving his keynote speech at the event, minister Birmingham also nodded to the success of the Australian international education sector, but emphasised that “we have to make sure that we don’t repeat mistakes of the past”.
The agent code of ethics, which Birmingham announced last year would receive government backing, has been designed to strengthen the sector as well as maintain quality, and establish more support in relation to how international education agents work, he said.
“This is something the government wants to work closely with the sector to support”
“This is something the government wants to work closely with the sector to support and ensure that it is embraced by our providers and is robustly applied to uphold standards,” he said, saying that any lapse in quality is “a risk not just to the one, but to all of us, to all of the providers and to the nation as a whole if we don’t uphold those best of consumer experiences”.
Phil Honeywood, executive director at the International Education Association of Australia, said that this code of ethics builds upon the work from the London Statement.
The London Statement “doesn’t really provide for an education provider in Australia to hold to account an education agency for doing the wrong thing by their students and doing the wrong thing by the education provider”, he told The PIE News.
“So this code of ethics, once we get education institutions to sign up to it, will in fact act as a real deterrent for education agents to have bad behaviour.”
Australia’s international education sector has been growing year on year, and its exports revenue has been valued at A$19.7bn.
The minister also nodded to the recently released National Strategy for International Education, which, he said, is “looking to identify what else we have to do to improve our competitiveness, to innovate, to keep ahead”.
“We have to make sure that we don’t repeat mistakes of the past, like the visa changes of 2009 that put the sector into decline for several years,” he said.
“We have to make sure that we don’t repeat mistakes of the past, like the visa changes of 2009″
Illustrating the sector’s success, Birmingham revealed in soon-to-be-released data, that as of August this year, the number of international student enrolments in 2016 has already exceeded the total number of enrolments from last year.
And with the rise of international student numbers, at any point in time, around one in 50 people in Australia is an international student, said Birmingham.
“That is the scale of the impact on our economy, on our society, on our culture, on the fact that we are very much open to the world and have that embrace of people making such a phenomenal contribution,” he commented.
Simon Birmingham gave his speech at the Australian International Education Conference, which was celebrating 30 years. A record 1,500 delegates were in attendance, with over a quarter coming from outside Australia.