“The Opposition has indicated that it is very supportive of the international education sector and that it would move quickly to facilitate the changes that the industry is proposing to enable Australia to maintain its preeminent global position in international education,” she said.
“The Opposition has indicated it would move quickly to facilitate the changes that the industry is proposing”
“This includes acting quickly to release the second tranche of providers for streamlined visa processing, to support the Chaney Council recommendations, and acting to eliminate excessive red tape and regulatory burden.”
The election was called in June after the incumbent Labor party ousted its leader, Prime Minister Julia Gillard. It will be fought by November between the new Labor leader and PM, Kevin Rudd, and Liberal Party leader, Tony Abbott, who heads the Opposition Coalition.
ACPET praised Gillard’s government for passing reforms to strengthen Australian international education, such as establishing the International Education Advisory Council as a strategic lead for the sector. But she said that not enough had been done to achieve parity between public and private sector regulation.
A major bone of contention is that streamlined visa processing, introduced for foreign university students in 2012, has not been extended to non-university providers, despite repeated government promises.
“This has negatively affected hundreds of providers,” said Field. “Yet with the constant upheaval in the tertiary education and immigration portfolios, as a result of the changes of ministers, there has been no action from government to address this policy inequity.”
“More than ever, we need a strong international education industry”
Research from Deloitte shows that non-university providers – mostly private – have suffered disproportionately during the country’s international enrolment downturn, too. Between 2009 and 2011, non-government providers – 83% of which were private ELICOS and VET outfits – saw enrolment fall 20% compared to just 2% for government providers.
ACPET also wants the election winner to expedite the release of the Assessment Level Framework Review, which commenced in January 2012, and the government’s response to the Chaney Council report, Australia: Educating Globally—both of which call for non-university providers to be better supported.
Part of this would mean setting up a Ministerial Coordinating Council on International Education to push through reforms mooted in the Chaney report.
Field said that Australia’s fast-changing economy gave all political parties an incentive to act. “The peaking of the mining sector and the softness in the recovery of the building and manufacturing sectors means now, more than ever, we need a strong international education industry.”