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Three-pillared new int’l education strategy for Australia

After significant consultation with the sector, Australia has released its strategy to grow and develop its international education sector, alongside a five-year global alumni strategy and a 10-year roadmap outlining how the industry can achieve its goals by 2025.

English language students in Australia - part of the pipeline of international students that Australia is keen to enhance and build. Photo: Embassy English

"It is critical that we embrace the role as a driver of change"

The roadmap developed by Austrade clearly articulates an ambition to develop, enhance and grow the onshore sector to welcome up to 720,000 students; compound annual growth of 3.8% on the nearly 500,000 Australia welcomes today.

“In a high market-share scenario, these numbers could almost double to nearly 990,000 by 2025,” states the report. “Beyond this, in the relatively untapped borderless skills market of in-market, online and blended delivery – there are projected to be in excess of one billion students around the world.”

The three areas of focus for the strategy are: Strengthening the Fundamentals of Australia’s education system (via delivering the best student experience possible, providing robust quality assurance); Making Transformative Partnerships (via alumni building, strengthening partnerships) and Competing Globally (via promoting excellence).

Richard Colbeck, minister for tourism and international education, signed off on a considered and cohesive strategy which represents clear ambition.

In a high market-share scenario, these numbers could almost double to nearly 990,000 by 2025

In his Ministers Foreword, he commented, “It is critical that we embrace the role as a driver of change. We must be conscious of what our competitors are doing, particularly what they are doing better than us.”

Stakeholders welcomed the announcement. Phil Honeywood, CEO of the International Education Association of Australia, said, “Given that international education is now worth $19.6 bn a year to the Australian economy, it now requires the level of attention that the nation’s third largest export sector should attract.”

Honeywood is a member of the Coordinating Council for International Education which consulted with government on its draft strategy. The council commended the first “whole-of-sector” strategy and said effective implementation was now needed.

“The sector provides far more than just an economic boost,” underlined Honeywood. “Research collaboration, two-way student mobility and student services such as accommodation and employment skills are all vital and require greater national coordinated effort. These ‘soft diplomacy’ benefits are often overlooked.”

Minister Colbeck also announced the formation of an ongoing council that will be responsible for implementation.

It was the country’s foreign minster, Julie Bishop, who announced the strategy while in Tasmania and it is the department for foreign affairs and trade which is championing the alumni agenda. To support this concurrent strategy, a website and Linked In group has been launched.

Twelve “inspirational” alumni ambassadors have been selected to work to build Australia’s profile in their home countries, and a video profile series is available, Australian by Degree.

“Over 50 years, 2.5 million international students have been attracted to Australia and its world class educational institutions,” said Bishop.

The Australia Global Alumni website will help connect and support 2.5 million alumni

The Australia Global Alumni website will help connect and support 2.5 million alumni

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