At the Australian International Education Conference in Adelaide last week, Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham announced that by becoming signatories of the document, all peak bodies were promoting best practices among international education agents.
“Supporting this statement recognises the important role played by agents and sets out the ethical framework in which they must operate and which we expect them to operate,” he said.
“IEAA is embarking upon something that will put the meat on the bones of the London Statement”
“In supporting the London Statement, Australia’s international education sector is again showing leadership in working to drive improvements that will enhance our reputation as a quality destination for learning.”
The statement was originally issued by education officials from the UK, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand in 2012. It set out seven principles of best practice for education agents.
Official support from representative organisations also moves forward the government’s plans to create its own ethical framework around the use of agents.
Speaking with The PIE News, Phil Honeywood, CEO of the International Education Association of Australia, said the move is a step in the right direction but there is still more to be done.
“The London Statement certainly provides an overarching framework for signatory countries to prioritise the relationship between agents and education providers and students,” he said.
“But there’s another level which is equally if not more important and that’s the type of work that the Australian government has funded through IEAA to embark upon something that will put the meat on the bones of the London Statement.”
How the framework will be implemented and how much funding the government will provide hasn’t been determined. However, according to Honeywood, it will require all onshore agents to be registered and all offshore agents to improve their visa approval rates.
“And also in all that to ensure that there’s meaningful training of education agents’ entire staff rather than just one staff member doing an online course,” he added.
It’s been three years since the statement was introduced but the industry is still realising its impact. Last month, the Global Alliance of Education and Language Association also officially endorsed the London Statement but Canada and the US are notably still not signatories.