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Push to diversify Australia’s international student cohort under new government plan

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The COVID-19 pandemic has severely disrupted the sector, with border closures seeing student enrolments fall by up to 70 per cent on pre-pandemic ranges in some elements. 

Minister for Education Alan Tudge instructed SBS Hindi the new technique goals to define the government’s targets over the following decade – beginning with restoration from COVID-19 and “getting our international student market back to where it was”. 

“We’ve done so well, and in some respects, we’ve opened the borders and have put some accelerators in there as well to encourage people to come,” he mentioned. 

“The second step is more the medium term, and what we can do to make international education more resilient.  Having greater diversity of international students is one [way].”

Government urges universities to diversify international student cohort

He mentioned diversifying student cohorts will scale back monetary threat for establishments and maximise the student expertise. 

Government knowledge confirmed the highest 5 markets in Australian universities final yr accounted for 72 per cent of enrolments, together with 37 per cent from China, 21 per cent from India and 14 per cent from the following three prime markets. The remaining 28 per cent got here from different markets.

This compares to key competitor markets such because the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada, the place the technique says “diversification is increasingly a strategy for supporting sustainable growth in international education enrolments”. 

In the US, 36 per cent of enrolments got here from China and 14 per cent from India, whereas 39 per cent got here from different markets final yr. The share coming from different markets was as excessive as 55 per cent within the UK. 

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The government will introduce new transparency measures round student variety, together with a diversification index. 

The technique says Australia “will continue to cultivate strong relationships with key partner countries, including India and China, as they remain valued partners in international education.” 

“I’m not saying that we want anybody to reduce [their share], we’re just saying, ‘let’s also think about other markets’,” Mr Tudge mentioned. 

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The technique additionally outlines methods to diversify programs into on-line and offshore supply. While 58 per cent of the United Kingdom’s international college students examine offshore, Australia’s share is 20 per cent. 

“There is a gigantic alternative to develop our international student market by high-quality offshore programs, comparable to what the United Kingdom has achieved,” Mr Tudge said in a statement. 

“We might doubtlessly be educating 10 million college students on this method in a decade or two, supporting the event of our neighbours in addition to offering a income supply for our universities.” 

International Education Association of Australia CEO Phil Honeywood is the convenor of the Council for International Education, which has overseen the strategy.

He told SBS News it is crucial the sector now has a blueprint to work towards. 

“Equally, the technique will all the time work finest if the shape can happen in partnership with government,” he said. 

“With seven federal ministers having now signed off on this 10-year nationwide technique, we glance ahead to working with them to obtain the outcomes that might be useful – not simply to schooling suppliers but in addition to student welfare as effectively.

“That is a key part of the strategy.”

Mr Honeywood mentioned the technique has a powerful emphasis on the necessity to enhance psychological well being help, secure and reasonably priced student school lodging and integration between home and international college students. 

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It additionally goals to ship international schooling that “meets Australia’s skills needs”. 

Currently, virtually half of Australia’s international enrolments at universities are concentrated in enterprise and commerce, whereas talent areas corresponding to engineering, maths, expertise and well being have a lot decrease shares than the OECD common. 

Mr Tudge described the present alignment between what college students are learning and the nation’s talent shortages as a “bit of a mismatch”. 

“With strong English language skills and Australian qualifications, international graduates are well-positioned to fill skills gaps and apply for residential and employment pathways, including through the Skilled Migration Program,” the technique says. 

The technique follows an earlier government announcement this week, with international college students who’ve been unable to journey to Australia throughout the pandemic in a position to apply for alternative visas.

The government will even improve the size of keep for momentary graduate visas from two to three years. 

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke mentioned the visa adjustments would put Australia on a aggressive footing internationally. 

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