Speaking at the IEAA TNE forum in Melbourne, Australia, Mien Wee Cheng, executive director of Sunway International Schools and director, pre-university studies at Sunway College, told the audience that rapid expansion of virtual schools which are delivering licensed programming keeps her up at night.
One risk is teachers in the academic community deciding to work for a virtual school and another is students choosing online studies instead of classroom-based learning.
“This space is probably now the game changer for me in Malaysia,” she said, warning, “The Chinese students won’t come if there are learning centres popping up in China that are offering the Ontario program.”
Studying a high school certificated program such as Australia’s Victorian Certificate of Education offers real benefits in terms of onward progression to study at an Australian university, for example.
Canada was singled out as a market that is licensing providers to deliver certificated high school curriculum programming online and growing its market share.
Wee Cheng commented on the number of “mom and pop centres that set up virtually overnight”.
“They can because they are virtual centres that are licensed and legal” and can deliver recorded access to Canadian teachers, with “no problem with time zones,” she continued.
“They are virtual centres that are licensed and legal”
And she asserted that she didn’t agree with colleagues who felt that, especially for school students, they performed best in an environment with face-to-face engagement where teachers can “literally sometimes, hold your hand”.
“I think that space now can not be replaced but can be enhanced to, you know, by bringing in other international elements that TNE can provide,” Wee Cheng said.
Another challenge discussed during the same panel was the fact that Australian high school programs are all marketed and delivered by state, which can limit any branding and recognition of Australian high school qualifications under a national brand.
VCE from Victoria is possibly the best known, alongside the HSC delivered by New South Wales. While Canada also delivers programming distinct by province (such as OSSD in Ontario), countries such as the UK have better recognition for A-levels which are delivered nationwide.