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Australia pushes forward with agent code

Funding for the scheme will be given by the Department of Education and Training. Minister Simon Birmingham announced the government's support of quality agent practices at AIEC last month. Photo: The PIE News

"It is imperative that quality assurance processes evolve and keep pace with sector wide advances"

The next steps will deliver a feasibility study on how to establish a quality assurance framework for education agents that incorporates principles from 2012’s London Statement as well as a self-sustaining funding model by February of next year.

In the framework, “there will need to be recognition that onshore agents may require different quality assurance measures to their offshore counterparts,” said IEAA CEO Phil Honeywood.

“Comprehensive training of agents’ staff will also be a key component to be factored into the committee’s work.”

“Education providers need have some accountability for their business partners’ actions”

The study will also recommend that an independent body be established to take responsibility for agent quality assurance, including licensing of onshore agents.

It will also outline a funding model that is not reliant on government backing, a move Honeywood said will result in better regulation of the sector.

“At the end of the day, it is the education providers who are signing the agents up as business partners of their institution. They need to therefore have some accountability for their business partners’ actions,” he said.

Earlier this year, as part of phase one, IEAA gave the government a series of recommendations for the scheme based on focus groups with agents, institutions, government and education peak bodies in Australia as well as a stakeholder survey of 1,000 respondents worldwide.

A project steering committee comprised of stakeholders and representatives of all sectors in Australia’s international education industry will oversee the upcoming study.

Brett Blacker, CEO of English Australia, chaired the committee supervising stage one and will also chair the newly established project steering committee.

“International recruitment agents have played a critical role in the development of the the international education industry in Australia,” he told The PIE News.

“It is imperative that quality assurance processes evolve and keep pace with sector wide advances.”

At the Australian International Education Conference in Adelaide last month, Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham announced that all peak bodies would become official signatories of the seven-principled London Statement, which was originally issued by education officials from the UK, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand in 2012.

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