Some of Australia’s vocational training institutions, especially private colleges and Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) have emailed their students currently stranded overseas to deposit their fees or else their Certificate of Enrollment (CoE) may be cancelled
Chinese visitors contribute to the Australian economy 27% of the total amount spent by all international visitors, largely due to the significant number of Chinese who come to the country to study. On average about 20% of Chinese visitors were here for educational purposes.
A growing number of overseas students are coming to Australia for vocational education and training (VET) and the national regulator is committed to ensuring quality learning experiences.
The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) report on its strategic review into international education finds that overseas students have good experiences studying in Australia, however work is needed to ensure this continues to be the case.
ASQA’s Chief Commissioner and CEO, Mark Paterson AO, said strong demand from overseas students has seen an increase in the number of registered providers delivering VET courses to overseas students and offering English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS), or delivering training offshore.
“Our latest report is a comprehensive response to risks identified in Australia’s international VET and English language education markets,” Mr Paterson explained.
“We have found that a very high number of overseas students are satisfied with their experience gaining qualifications in Australia, so we can be confident that the majority of providers are delivering quality training.
“However more work is needed to make sure providers meet their obligations, and to ensure we have the right data to monitor activity and eliminate poor behaviour.
“We are committed to working in partnership with other government and industry bodies and the regulated community to address the complex and dynamic issues facing this growing sector.”
The report contains evidence that some VET providers are not meeting their obligations to ensure overseas students receive accurate information about their courses, meet the prerequisites for courses and participate in a minimum of 20 contact hours per week. It warns that providers failing to meet these obligations can cause significant harm to overseas students, undermine the community’s confidence in the VET sector and the student visa program, and impact providers that deliver quality VET courses.
The report’s recommendations include amending the National Code to make it explicit that overseas students are required to attend courses on a full-time basis, strengthening collaboration across agencies to ensure consistent access to data and intelligence and ensuring offshore students have the same protections as students in Australia.
ASQA will publish clear information for providers about expectations for delivering training to overseas students and continue work to identify and take action against providers not complying with their obligations.
The findings of the report will inform ASQA’s ongoing risk-based regulatory focus.
The full report, Protecting the quality of international VET and English language education, is available via the link below:
The South Australian Government has launched a 10-year International Education Strategy, with an initial four-year investment of $6.25 million, with the intention of delivering “a suite of education initiatives with an international focus” to public pre-schools and schools across the state.
The investment will see students across both pre-school and primary school benefit from up to $800,000 in scholarships for “immersive international and intercultural experiences,” which includes overseas study tours for those in secondary education.
$1.6 million of the allocation is earmarked for the Internationalising Schools Fund, which will be established to offer tailored packages of support for up to twenty schools with “less experience” of hosting international students. The packages will provide schools with supports such as teacher training, release time to work with school communities developing homestay options and investment to build partnerships with sister-schools overseas.
Mentor schools with international education experience will each receive $10,000 to support them to share their knowledge with other schools and provide further professional development opportunities to staff.
Other measures include the tools and resources that support educators to teach intercultural components of the curriculum, as well as support to maximise sister-school relationships. The strategy bolsters existing work in pre-schools and schools to embed international learning and supports sustainable volumes of international student enrolments across the state.
A spokesperson for the Department of Education in South Australia said the investment reflects the state’s understanding that children are “the next generation of leaders, problem solvers and entrepreneurs who will innovate and start businesses that are connected to the world”.
By welcoming international students, and encouraging a greater global perspective, the spokesperson said, South Australia will be able to offer “unique opportunities for enriching intercultural understanding, learning and the curriculum”.
The initiatives in the strategy will be implemented in a staged approach and will be evaluated over the life of the 10-year strategy. The strategy may be viewed in full here.