BEIJING, Aug. 16 (Xinhua) — China released a white paper on vocational education and training in Xinjiang Friday.
There are six chapters in the white paper: urgent needs for education and training, law-based education and training, content of education and training, protection of trainees’ basic rights, remarkable results in education and training, and experience in countering extremism.
The white paper, published by the State Council Information Office, said that terrorism and extremism are the common enemies of humanity, and the fight against terrorism and extremism is the shared responsibility of the international community.
It is a fundamental task of any responsible government, acting on basic principles, to remove the malignant tumor of terrorism and extremism that threatens people’s lives and security, to safeguard people’s dignity and value, to protect their rights to life, health and development, and to ensure they enjoy a peaceful and harmonious social environment, according to the white paper.
Over the years, to ensure public safety and wellbeing, the international community has spared no effort and made tremendous sacrifices in preventing and combating terrorism and extremism. Many countries and regions, in light of their own conditions, have developed effective measures and drawn valuable lessons from these efforts.
The white paper stated that Xinjiang is a key battlefield in the fight against terrorism and extremism in China. For some time Xinjiang has been plagued by terrorism and religious extremism, which pose a serious threat to the lives of the people in the region.
Addressing both the symptoms and root causes and integrating preventative measures and a forceful response, Xinjiang has established vocational education and training centers in accordance with the law to prevent the breeding and spread of terrorism and religious extremism, effectively curbing the frequent terrorist incidents and protecting the rights to life, health, and development of the people of all ethnic groups, the white paper said, adding that worthwhile results have been achieved.
Education Minister Chris Hipkins has announced the Government’s planned shake up of the vocational education sector. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Education Minister Chris Hipkins says a major shake up of the polytech sector will see minimal job losses in the short term, and potentially lead to more jobs in the long term.
But the National Party insists that the reforms will cost thousands of jobs as 16 polytechnics and institutes of technology are transitioned to become campuses of one centrally-run institute.
The reforms, flagged earlier this year and announced today, will affect 110,000 polytech students and 140,000 industry trainees and apprentices.
The seven key changes are:
• The 16 institutes of technology and polytechnics will be brought under a single national institute, the NZ Institute of Skills and Technology, which will start on 1 April 2020
• New Regional Skills Leadership Groups, made up of councillors, employers, iwi and community leaders, will work across education, immigration and welfare systems in each region to identify skills needs and how to meet them
• Around four to seven industry-governed Workforce Development Councils (WDC) will be created by 2022, setting standards and eventually replacing the 11 industry training organisations (ITOs).
• Holding organisations will be formed to smooth the transition from ITOs over the next two to three years
• Centres of Vocational Excellence (CoVEs) will be established at regional campuses to drive innovation and expertise, and improve links between education, industry and research.
• Māori will be key partners, including through Te Taumata Aronui, a Māori Crown tertiary education group.
Yesterday, the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) released its strategic review into international education, entitled Protecting the quality of international VET and English language education, which documents the explosive growth in international student enrolments along with a number of shortcomings in the tertiary education system.
First, the report notes the explosive growth in international students numbers across the various tertiary sectors, which has been concentrated in Sydney and Melbourne:
In 2018, there were more than 875,000 enrolments generated by almost 700,000 full-fee paying overseas students in Australia, across all education sectors. This represents a 10 per cent increase on 2017 and compares with an average annual enrolment growth rate of almost 11 per cent annually over the preceding five years. The majority of overseas students were enrolled in higher education courses, with China and India the top two source countries.
Overseas student growth has been strongest in the higher education and VET sectors in recent years, as shown by Figure 5. The largest volume of enrolments and commencements in 2018 were in higher education (45 per cent and 34 per cent, respectively) followed by VET (30 per cent and 30 per cent), ELICOS (18 per cent and 24 per cent) and the non-award sector (six per cent and eight per cent)…
The distribution of overseas students, and resulting economic activity, is concentrated in New South Wales which recorded 38 per cent of enrolments, followed by Victoria with 32 per cent… In 2018, 97 per cent of overseas students studied in a major city with the majority of these students studying in Sydney and Melbourne…
The fastest growing market for VET in 2018 was Nepal, with a 108 per cent growth rate from 2017. Myanmar was the next fastest growing market with a 58 per cent growth rate, followed by Mongolia (52 per cent) and Sri Lanka (50 per cent). Figure 7 shows the fastest growing source countries for the VET sector in 2018…
As shown above, growth in the VET sector has been driven by Nepal, who are also Australia’s third biggest international student source and the fastest growing, according to the Department of Home Affairs:
Inside Story’s economics correspondent, Tim Colebatch, recently warned that the flood of lower quality Nepalese students into Australia is degrading education standards:
…one source stands out: the little Himalayan country of Nepal, just thirty million people, living in one of Asia’s poorest countries.
In 2017–18, one in every 1500 inhabitants of Nepal emigrated to Australia. In an era of strict immigration controls, that is an astonishing number for two countries so far apart, with no common language, heritage or ethnicity.
Over the five years to mid 2018, one in every 500 Nepalis emigrated to Australia — and that’s in net terms, after deducting those who returned. In 2017–18, little Nepal became Australia’s third largest source of migrants after India and China…
Deregulation has allowed universities to selectively lower their standards to bring in more fee-paying foreign students, even when they fail to meet the thresholds for English language skills or academic achievement…
This is not the first time immigration from Nepal has surged. A decade ago, we saw a scam with training visas, in which “students” from India and Nepal came for training courses in Australia, then quickly vanished into the workforce. The scam saw net immigration set record levels in 2008–09, before then immigration minister Chris Evans shut it down. But most of those who came stayed on here.
At the current pace of immigration, Australia will soon have more residents born in Nepal than in Greece.
Next, the ASQA report warns that international students are especially vulnerable to “being misinformed, misled and, in the worst circumstances, open to exploitation” by dodgy and unregulated education agents, who accounted for around three-quarters of international student enrolments in 2017:
Education agents are an integral part of Australia’s overseas education sector. They represent education providers to students and advise prospective students on courses of study available to them in all education sectors.
There is no legal requirement under Australian law for providers or overseas students to engage an agent, but most do—agents facilitated almost 74 per cent of the total overseas student enrolments in 2017..
ASQA does not regulate migration agents or education agents. Unlike migration agents (onshore), education agents are a non-regulated sector and there are no official registration processes for becoming an education agent…
The drivers of this student demand are complex and relate to a range of interrelated factors, including the ability to work in Australia while undertaking study and post-graduation. Australia’s post-study work rights, and its work-rights settings, remain competitive.
The desire to pursue paid employment opportunities, even in breach of their visa conditions, is likely to motivate some students and introduces the risk that some providers and agents will seek to exploit this demand and recruit these overseas students using misleading and unethical practices.
Overseas students rely heavily on the assistance of education agents when making decisions and can lack reliable information to hold their providers and education agents to account. This dependence makes overseas students vulnerable to being misinformed, misled and, in the worst circumstances, open to exploitation by their providers, education agents and other third parties, such as employers.
… there are ongoing concerns expressed by some stakeholders and commentators about the quality and integrity of VET and ELICOS courses, especially where students are not properly engaged and participating in their study.
Many of these concerns centre on the potential for collusive activity between some providers, education agents and those students who seek to enter Australia for paid employment, rather than to engage in study. These practices can be difficult for regulators to detect, given that the parties involved are unlikely to make complaints to the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) or other government agencies…
Many education agents operate from foreign countries. There is no government regulatory oversight of education agents, and the quality of the services provided by agents is reliant on individual providers systematically monitoring the practices of their agents. This lack of oversight can make overseas students vulnerable to poor practices, including misleading marketing and advertising, by providers and agents that deliberately evade their obligations.
Some overseas students may also come under financial pressure once they are in Australia and find themselves in situations where they work more hours than they are entitled to under their student visa conditions. All overseas students who breach their student visa conditions, regardless of their intentions or motivations, can find themselves open to exploitation by unscrupulous providers, agents and employers…
It is these persistent concerns that led ASQA to identify delivery of VET and ELICOS courses to international students as a systemic risk…
There are risk factors specific to the overseas student sector, particularly in the VET sector, that can lead to poor provider behaviour. While many providers may display these risk factors and still operate effectively and reputably, ASQA did find that some providers deliberately avoid compliance and adopt poor practices…
ASQA also singled-out “ghost colleges” that enrol overseas students but do not require class attendance:
Regulatory activities conducted on some providers as part of the strategic review, and in ASQA’s wider regulatory work, identified one particular concern relating to overseas student class attendance. Investigation of this issue has found several instances of providers who are not requiring overseas students to attend scheduled classes, but who are still determining that these students are progressing in their course.
Overseas students are required to be enrolled in a full-time registered course to meet the study requirements of the student visa program…
Finally, ASQA indentified instances of institutions recruiting students with poor English proficiency in order to boost student numbers and revenue:
In conducting its regulatory activities, ASQA found instances of students who were enrolled in VET courses where their English language capabilities were limited.
In one example, the student, who was interviewed during a site visit of a provider, had to use non-verbal gestures to articulate basic statements and requested others to translate so the student could respond to questions. In this example, the student had been enrolled in a business qualification for more than 12 months, having been accepted with an English test type of ‘other form of testing which satisfies the institution’. It is clear this student did not have an appropriate level of English language capability either on enrolment or developed during study…
While the obligations are on the provider to ensure students have a sufficient level of English to complete the course they seek to enrol in, there is an opportunity for poor-quality providers to overlook limited English capability when enrolling a student to maximise their student enrolments inappropriately.
While ASQA claims the international student industry is operating reasonably well overall, these are definite holes in the system in dire need of improvement.
Australia prides itself as a safe travel destination, however, the latest series of robberies and physical attacks targeting international students in Melbourne is alarming. Moreover, the Australian media believes that international students are treated as “cash cows”, raising serious concerns about the safety and wellbeing of foreign students in Australia.
International education is a lucrative industry in Australia, with more than 500,000 international students contributing nearly A$32 billion into Australia’s economy. International education was also the third-largest export earner for the country, according to a statement by Universities Australia’s Deputy Chief Executive Anne-Marie Lansdown, released last year.
Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan said the government was working in collaboration with education providers to “ensure Australia is a safe and welcoming country for international students”.
Several safety policies and frameworks were employed in the country, including the 2018 National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students which requires education providers to give foreign students information in relation to on-campus safety. It also entails that varsities should employ staff and other support mechanisms to help students in matters pertaining to health or counselling, with immediate actions against critical incidents such as cases of violence, aggression, physical or sexual assault.
Majority of Australian universities have good safety measures employed at their respective campuses such as CCTV camera coverage, emergency phone points and active security services patrolling. However, a major challenge for universities lies in protecting international students travelling to and from the university and also in their local communities.
University students were often victimised on public transports. According to a Melbourne-based study, nearly 80 percent of surveyed female students said they ‘had been victims of comments, advances, groping, or being followed on public transport” in the last three years. More than half of the surveyed men reported that they were mistreated in public transports. Another study found international students were more likely to report safety threats on racial, religious or cultural grounds than domestic students
Different Australian universities are also taking a lead to handle the matter at hand. Griffith University offers self-defense classes to their students and staff so that they can protect themselves and can develop strategies to avoid personal harm or injury. Several universities have MATES (Mentoring and Transition Equals Success) or equivalent mentoring program for new students to connect them with already enrolled students and learn about university life in Australia. This network can also be used to create awareness about international student safety.
In the past month the Australian National University (ANU) and Australian Catholic University have been hit by data breaches affecting more than 200,000 people. It’s in this environment that providers across the independent tertiary education system are reviewing their data protection protocols.
Key Issues —
Advice of a major data breach that occurred in late 2018 was released by ANU in early June 2019, some two weeks after it was discovered. The university said that there was unauthorised access to significant amounts of personal staff, student and visitor data extending back nineteen years.
Depending on the information provided to ANU, the data accessed may have included names, addresses, dates of birth, phone numbers, personal email addresses and emergency contact details, tax file numbers, payroll information, bank account details, and passport details. Student academic records were also accessed.
Upon identifying that the data breach had occurred, ANU set about working to further strengthen our systems against secondary or opportunistic attacks.
Some two weeks after ANU released public information concerning its unfortunate data breach ACU said that a data breach was discovered on 22 May 2019 and a number of staff email accounts and some University systems had been compromised.
The data breach at ANU originated from a phishing attack: an email pretending to be from ACU tricking users into clicking on a link or opening an attachment and then entering credentials into a fake ACU login page. In a very small number of cases, staff login credentials were obtained successfully via the phishing email and were used to access the email accounts, calendars and bank account details of affected staff members.
These two attacks have highlighted the importance of the tertiary education system being vigilant and proactively working to protect student and staff records. It’s a topical issue and one being considered at the ITEC19 conference to be held over 21-23 August 2019 on the Gold Coast. For conference information visit:
At the ITEC19 Conference Mr Damien Manuel, Chair of the Australian Information Security Association, will make a presentation entitled ‘Cyber Threats To Student Data Security.’ Precipitously, this presentation was planned before news of the unfortunate data breaches at ANU and ACU was made public.
Mr Manuel’s presentation will highlight the fact that independent tertiary education providers store a great deal of information about their students and it’s not possible to assume this is safe from cyber criminals. In this thought-provoking presentation lean about how student databases and other sources such as email may be subject to theft and what your business can to protect itself, and your students.
In light of the cyber attacks at ANU and ACU that saw the data breaches occur, ITECA advises all independent tertiary education providers to review their data security arrangements.
ITECA’s ability to play a lead role in matters associated with this issue rests on the advice and guidance of individuals belonging to the ITECA Higher Education Sector Interest Group.
For more information on this issue please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 1300 421 017. Stay up to date via Twitter @ITECAust or via Facebook at www.facebook.com/ITECAust.
Training Minister Shannon Fentiman accused the federal Coalition government of cutting funding but said no other provider could match TAFE Queensland for scale and location options.
“TAFE Queensland ensures high-quality outcomes for students and employers – more than 85 per cent of students are employed or in further study after completing their course,” she said.
In a letter to the auditor-general, TAFE Queensland chief executive Mary Campbell said the body serviced rural and remote areas of the state and supported students affected by the closure of private providers.
“This responsiveness and high quality of TAFE Queensland’s education and training provisions is fundamental to the successful operation of (the) vocational education and training sector in Queensland, however it must be acknowledged that this comes at a cost,” she said.
LNP leader Deb Frecklington accused the state government of not having a plan to manage the body.
“Under (Premier) Annastacia Palaszczuk and her TAFE system, we’ve had senior execs being wined and dined and flown around the world at a cost of millions of dollars to the taxpayer of Queensland,” she said.
Last year’s estimates hearings revealed TAFE’s hospitality expenses doubled in three years and $687,525 was spent on international travel.
If elected on Saturday an Australian Labor Government will address Australia’s digital skills gap, establish centres of excellence for AI and blockchain, encourage more startup activity, and reform controversial encryption laws.
Each of the moves has been outlined by Shadow Minister for Human Services and the Digital Economy, Ed Husic, in the lead up to the federal election.
Today, Husic elaborated on several aspects of the Opposition’s digital strategy during an event in Sydney organised by InnovationAus and StartupAus. While Husic has become a regular at the town hall style gatherings LNP representatives have declined the group’s invitations, according to event organisers.
To address Australia’s digital skills gap Labor has pledged more vocational training for IT and more requirements that digital roles to be filled by local talent, with an emphasis on diversity.
Labor has promised 5,00 free Tafe places for IT and digital courses. Half of those places are reserved for women to address IT’s diversity problem. Today Husic revealed “where we can” the program would also target older workers transitioning to new roles in particular.
Husic said Labor would promote local talent in the digital economy but leave the door open for migrant workers to “ensure our skills are current”.
“We could fill every single vacancy here in Australia with a local and I’d still think there’s a role for skilled migration.
“From my point of view, if people are doing something smart somewhere else in the world and they want to come here or they’re needed here we should bring them here. Because we need to ensure that the knowledge base is continually replenished.”
Husic said Labor’s “smart visas” will mean foreigners with highly needed skills including digital can help bridge the deficit between local talent and industry requirements.
Businesses need to step up too, Husic argued, noting the practice of large corporations relying too heavily on 457 Visa holders for IT needed to stop.
Husic said a Labor Government would require large companies working on digital projects for government to ensure one in 10 of its involved employees are digital trainees or apprentices.
“This has been an awful bill in the way it has been put through parliament … This is having a devastating impact locally.”
Husic said several international firms are avoiding the Australian market because they believe storing data here is “not worth the risk”. Husic said Labor will push to reform the bill even if it remains in opposition.
However he ruled out repealing the legislation saying the challenge of bad actors misusing digital platforms was real and other jurisdictions were taking similar measures, although not as “hopelessly” as Australia.
Politicians Must Do Better On Tech: Husic
Regardless of which party wins government on Saturday Husic says a better understanding of technology is needed in Canberra.
“We’ve got a long way to go,” Husic said of politicians digital literacy.
“I think the reality is parliamentarians are going to have to get across [digital technology] a lot more. Not just in terms of the profound impact of technology broadly but even from a government perspective.”
Every government department will deal with transformation projects, Husic says, and the politicians leading them need to understand the underlying technology to some extent.
“Gone are the days that you could just be there for the announcement and shove the project management to the IT help desk and hope that it just all worked out. That’s not going to work anymore. We’ve seen that through this term of this parliament with a number of digital derailments, some of which have not purely been because of the tech … A lot of it is governance.”
Labor has promised to make childcare free for most low-income households and to provide up to an 85% subsidy for households under $175,000. It has committed to funding an extra year of preschool for three-year-olds. This is evidence-based and builds on commitments by several states to support two years of preschool.
The Coalition will likely retain the means-tested subsidy introduced as part of its major childcare reforms in 2018. While these reforms benefited an estimated one million lower-income families, the means test also left around 280,000 families worse off, including families with neither parent in work.
Given states and territories are largely responsible for schools, federal investment should be targeted where it can make the most difference. Two key areas are needs-based funding, to ensure additional support is available to students who need it the most, and central investment in research and evidence-based practice.
Both major parties have promised a national evidence institute. Laborhas allocated funds for it, with the Coalition yet to do so. This initiative reflects the urgent need to ensure evidence helps to shape the education system. The Productivity Commission has recommended such an institute, to connect educators and policymakers with the latest research on teaching and learning.
On funding, the Coalition wants us to judge it on its reforms to the schools funding package, which is now mostly modelled on the needs-based funding approach outlined in the Gonski Review. But funding has still not reached the recommended levels. The Coalition has supported the National School Resourcing Board to review these funding arrangements and develop a fairer model for all schools.
Both Labor and the Coalition have committed to increased support for apprenticeships, through financial incentives for employers.
For universities, Labor says it will bring back demand-driven funding, which existed between 2012 and 2017, where universities are paid for every student studying and there is no limit on the number of students that can be admitted to courses. Evidence suggests this has been effective in boosting studies in areas where there are skills shortages, such as health, and also appears to have improved access to education for disadvantaged groups.
When casting our votes, we would do well to look past the dollar signs, and think about how each party is shaping an education system that will deliver quality learning for all Australians, from all kinds of backgrounds, from childhood through to adulthood.
The Coalition has delivered needs-based funding for schools and promises a greater focus on regional and rural students in all sectors. But there are some apparent gaps in early learning and tertiary policy and funding.
Labor has pledged more funding in all sectors. It has made a prominent commitment to early childhood education and care. However, Labor’s policies are expensive and would need to be implemented effectively to make sure they achieve the intended outcomes for students and deliver the financial benefit to the economy in the long-term.