Australian minister flags rebuild of international education sector

Oct 13, 2013 by

abcThe Australian Government has flagged changes to make the nation more attractive to international students.

In one of his first major speeches as education minister, Christopher Pyne says he is working on rebuilding the international education sector.

Minister Pyne says he wants to work collaboratively with the $US15 billion industry, which he says has to be rebuilt.

“There will be no more ‘thought bubbles’ and no more overreactions,” he said, referring to the Coalition’s view of the previous government’s initiatives.

The sector is still recovering from the collapse in 2009 of several vocational education providers which left thousands of students stranded.

Thousands of protesting Indian students at a rally in 2009 Photo: Thousands of protesting Indian students and supporters hold up placards in Melbourne in 2009 as Australia scrambled to contain outrage over a wave of attacks. (AFP: William West)

There was also a high-profile series of criminal attacks on mainly Indian students.

“While this was handled well, the entire education sector became caught up,” Minister Pyne said.

The new Coalition government, which is embarking on an efficiency drive in higher education, is to develop a national strategy for international education.

There are few details, but Minister Pyne wants to extend streamlined student visa arrangements beyond universities and is reviewing the rules for post-study work rights.

“It’s all part of sending a message to students and their families across the Asia-Pacific and beyond that Australia welcomes and is well placed to host many more international students,” he said.

The head of the International Education Association of Australia and a former state Liberal party education minister, Phil Honeywood, agrees on a review of student visas.

“The visa regime is actually one of the key issues that needs to be address because it is just prohibitive, it acts as a disincentive for students to come to our country,” he said.

The Council of International Students of Australia’s Thomson Ch’ng says international students are concerned about being used as a money source when they say they should be seen as ambassadors for Australian education.

Phil Baty of Times Higher Education says Australia is being urged to act soon.

“I think the government needs to support universities in remaining world class,” he said.

Australia faces tough competition in the sector from the US, the UK, Canada and New Zealand.

via Australian minister flags rebuild of international education sector – Australia Network News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

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