The Australian education system has a high reputation for its top-notch system, prime institutions, culturally-diverse society, dramatic terrain and city life, and internship and work opportunities for students. No wonder this country infallibly ranks among the most desired destination countries for international students.
- There is impressive growth from the small markets such as the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Indonesia with 62.8%, 35.6%, 21.8%, and 27.8% growth respectively in terms of student visa applications.
- Australia’s new direction in international education focuses on diversification, meeting skills needs, a student-centric environment, and global competitiveness.
- Reports show that more than 56,000 students have flocked back, of which 7,000 of those arrived between 23 January and 30 January 2022 alone.
The recent years have been challenging for the Australian education sector with the COVID-19 impact. In a report released by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment, the country recorded 570,626 international students, from January to December 2021, which fell by 17% compared to what they were in 2020.
With the opening of the borders, the government is keen to support its road to recovery with visa policy initiatives and a strategic plan to rebuild the sector with innovations in education delivery and sustainability in mind, among other considerations.
Rebounding to 2022
The signs of a rebound for the international education scene are evident this 2022 as the country opens its borders to welcome its international students in Australia.
Since November 2021, reports show that more than 56,000 students have flocked back, of which 7,000 of those arrived between 23 January and 30 January 2022 alone.
In 2021, it can be recalled that the Australian government announced that international students would have their visa application fees refunded if they arrived between 19 January 2022 and 22 March 2022.
The government’s effort on visa application fee refunds was triumphant in enticing the students, not only to return to studies but to increase the number of student visa applications which 50,000 have already been filed.
From Australian Government of Home Affairs data, there’s a 29% and 19.7% increase in student visas issued in Indian and Malaysian markets. Although there’s a slow movement in enrollments from China with a 13.6% drop, impressive growth in the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Indonesia is observed with 62.8%, 35.6%, 21.8%, and 27.8% growth respectively.
Adding to the causes of the robust number is the government’s revision in removing the working hours limit, hence, allowing student visa holders to carry on for additional hours in critical sectors. This was implemented as a reinforcement to Australian businesses’ workforce shortages.
The New Strategy
Strengthening its international education sector, Australia laid out its new diversified, skill, and student-centric strategy to drive its international enrollment. Called the “Australian Strategy for International Education 2021-2030,” the initiative aimed to promote the sustainable recovery of the sector and the generation of growth opportunities.
“The Strategy will be backed by more than $37 million in targeted support measures, including regulatory fee relief and an Innovation Development Fund for English language providers,” notes Hon. Alan Tudge MP, Minister for Education and Youth and Chair, Council for International Education.
The government’s take on its “new direction” was brought by “an extensive consultation process led by the Expert Members of the Council for International Education. Over 120 written submissions and 1,600 stakeholders participated, representing students, peak bodies, education providers, business, community groups, and state and territory governments” and will focus on:
- Meeting Australia’s skills needs
- Students at the center
- Growth and global competitiveness
These four anchors share a common goal: to ensure a ‘Connected, Creative, and Caring’ international education experience for all students studying in Australia.
The first pillar focuses on the diversification of student cohorts and source countries. Through this, the government believes that a diverse campus exposes local and international students “to different ways of thinking and learning, ensures freedom of speech and expression, and provides students and the communities they live with the skills to communicate and interact with people and societies from all backgrounds.”
Another is expanding online study as a pathway option for international students. The recent study of the Australian Government’s ‘Study with Australia’ campaign, has attracted 836,000 enrollments to study free online courses administered by Australian providers.
International students have been a major source of the labor force in Australia. The second strategy solidifies the alignment of educational offerings and employment opportunities through the expansion of the International Skills Training (IST) Program and the development of Work Integrated Learning (WIL). This provides the students pragmatic learning experience through internships and projects.
Adding to it is fostering partnerships for research and innovation to enhance its reputation as an “attractive, secure, and trusted international research collaboration partner.”
Creating a sense of belongingness is one of the highlights of the new strategy. Synthesizing an environment for international students that makes them feel welcomed and valued concretes a strong foundation for societal and economic growth.
Aside from connecting its international students to the communities, the Australian Government is looking forward to delivering activities that connect their alumni to the country as the ambassadors of Australian Education.
Lastly, in promoting growth and global competitiveness, the Australian government will provide $27.8 million packages in fee relief from regulatory charges in 2022, including certain fees for the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA), Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) registrations and the Tuition Protection Service (TPS) Levy.
Aside from revisions on visa settings, the Australian Government will consort with “multilateral fora, including the UNESCO Tokyo Convention and the new Global Conventions to encourage the adoption of qualifications recognition best practice by overseas governments.”
Physicist William Pollard once said, “Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” Australia, indeed, is continuously rising from the ashes of disruptions. Through its new international education strategy, Australia is eyeing a strong comeback in international enrolments in the years ahead.
SUNEETHA QURESHI MSM President - Global
Suneetha has worked for 15 years in the international education sector and 25 years overall for various industries, including her work for other industries. As president of MSM, she fortifies its business development outreach globally, particularly in the face of MSM’s foray into edtech-based recruitment via MSM Unify. She preserves the premium, value-adding services provided to each MSM partner institute, including dedicated teams on the ground, agent management, lead generation and inquiry management, application prescreening, and student and parent support through pioneering predeparture briefing sessions.
She has an impeccable track record of successfully launching the representative offices in Asia and Africa of many North American and European higher education institutions. Her key strengths include hiring, training, and developing teams as evidenced by the successful results of the dedicated in-country college and university client teams.
Suneetha also has taken the lead in developing several initiatives at MSM, including building robust standard operating procedures, the Rise ‘n Shine team engagement platform, and the organization’s data analytics and audit segments.
- Yezdani, S. (2021). Australia’s strategy to revive international education is right to aim for more diversity. Retrieved from https://world.edu/australias-strategy-to-revive-international-education-is-right-to-aim-for-more-diversity/
- (2021) Australia’s strategy to revive international education is right to aim for more diversity. Study International. Retrieved from https://www.studyinternational.com/news/australia-international-education/
- (2022) International student numbers. Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment. Retrieved from https://www.dese.gov.au/international-data/data-visualisation-international-student-numbers
- (2022) International enrollment recovery underway in Australia, Canada, the UK, and the US. icef Monitor. Retrieved from https://monitor.icef.com/2022/04/international-enrolment-recovery-underway-in-australia-canada-the-uk-and-the-us/
- Kamil, Y. (2021). Students willing to switch destinations, forgo scholarship for on-campus learning: survey. Retrieved from https://www.studyinternational.com/news/on-campus-learning/
- Cundy, T. (2022). New research indicates only half of international students might be returning to campus this year. Youth Insight. Retrieved from https://youthinsight.com.au/education/new-research-half-international-students-return-australia/
- (2022). Australia: International enrolments down 17% in 2021; but visa applications now trending up. icef Monitor. Retrieved from https://monitor.icef.com/2022/03/australia-international-enrolments-down-17-in-2021-but-visa-applications-now-trending-up/
- (2022). Tens of thousands of international students return to Australia. icef Monitor. Retrieved from https://monitor.icef.com/2022/02/tens-of-thousands-of-international-students-return-to-australia/
- (2022). Temporary changes to visa work conditions for Students and Working Holiday Makers. Australian Government Department of Home Affairs. Retrieved from https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/news-media/archive/article?itemId=813
- Australian Strategy for International Education 2021-2030. Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment. Retrieved from https://www.dese.gov.au/australian-strategy-international-education-2021-2030#:~:text=The%20Australian%20Strategy%20for%20International,the%20centre%20and%20global%20competitiveness.
- International Skills Training Courses. Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment. Retrieved from https://www.dese.gov.au/international-skills-engagement/international-skills-training-courses#:~:text=The%20International%20Skills%20Training%20(IST,the%20offshore%20international%20student%20market.
- Fees and charges relief. Australian Government Australian Skills Quality Authority. Retrieved from https://www.asqa.gov.au/covid-19/fees-and-charges-relief
- ‘Study with Australia’: Access free online quality education. Australian Embassy The Philippines. Retrieved from https://philippines.embassy.gov.au/mnla/medrel2020004.html