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Peak bodies call for measures to restore international sector

TDA Newsletter    |    19 August 2013

inter-visasAustralia’s education peak bodies has  urged all political parties to get behind measures to restore global competitiveness and innovation to Australia’s international education sector.

They warn that Australia is losing ground to international competitors whose governments place a higher value on international education than Australia  does.

Expensive and inflexible student visas, a complex and stifling regulatory system and a reluctance by governments to aggressively promote Australian education abroad are combining to turn potential students away from Australia and into the “welcoming arms of Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the USA”, according to the group.

International education returns $15 billion a year to our economy, directly employs more than 100,000 Australians and delivers enormous cultural and diplomatic benefits to the nation.  It therefore beggars belief that we lack a strong government champion or the focused support afforded to other important industries like manufacturing, mining and tourism.

Official international student visa data to June 2013 shows  a continuing decline in applications in  the VET sector for the full financial year period (down 8%), a decline in the number of visas granted (down 16.7%), and a visa approval rate for offshore applications at least 12% lower than any other sector. Of equal concern is the significant drop in the numbers of students moving schools to VET (down 27%) and VET to Higher Education (down 23%).  The dramatic declines in international students in the VET sector have been recorded for the fourth consecutive year. Comparing figures for June 2010 and June 2013, we now have 82,015 less students currently studying in Australia, 54,657 of these from the VET sector.

Both TAFE Directors Australia and the Australian Council for Private Education and Training have released policy statements calling on all political parties to clearly articulate what action they will take to protect and enhance Australia’s international vocational education and training sector.

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