Representing quality private education
providers in Australia

Well, football finals have come and gone – Friday nights now seem a lot lonelier!

Monday, October 2 2017

This week something different. I would like to predominantly focus on one of Australia’s success stories – International Education – our third largest export Industry.

To keep this success up of course means protecting students and therefore our reputation.

Australia’s legislative framework is designed to do just that, to protect international students as a key contributor to our global reputation and growing success as a study destination.

Any shifts, changes or rumours about amendments to the framework can therefore not be dismissed lightly.

In case you missed it, following comprehensive consultations, revisions to the National Code will be implemented from 1 January 2018. Key areas of change involve:

  • protecting international students by requiring more detail on a student’s course and refund arrangements in the written agreement between students and providers;
  • strengthening arrangements for the care and welfare of international students under the age of 18
  • giving greater guidance for providers on the circumstances in which international student transfer requests should be granted; and
  • supporting international students to fulfil visa requirements by strengthening the provisions for monitoring course attendance and progress.

Now this all looks like a reasonable idea.

If you would like to know more register for the Commonwealth Department of Education and Training’s upcoming webinars. Please see the details here.

Also on the protection front, the Fair Work Ombudsman’s campaign to raise international students’ awareness of their workplace rights is a very pleasing move.

Many of our international students are too scared to approach authorities if they are being exploited in the workplace for fear of losing their Visa.

Many international students just aren’t aware of Australian workplace laws and don’t know where to go for help.

The Fair Work Ombudsman is doing something about it and has developed some great resources that are available on their website, in 30 different languages. This includes a Pay and Conditions Tool, which can be used to calculate the correct pay rates that apply to their work. I encourage you all to reinforce these messages to assist students’ overall experience in Australia.

So, what is happening with international students?

The bi-annual Student Visa Programme report was published by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection last Friday. Here are some of the fun facts:

  • In 2016-17, the number of student visa applications increased by 4.5 per cent compared with the previous year. This was driven largely by the ELICOS Sector (up 13.4 per cent) and Higher Education (5.4 per cent).
  • Grants to applicants outside Australia in 2016-17 increased by 11.2 per cent (ELICOS 22.1 % and Higher Education 12.7%)
  • Interestingly applications lodged outside Australia for VET Sector decreased by 7.6 % - however, grants grew
  • The difference between the increase in grants and lodgements is because a large number of students lodged in 2015-16 shortly before the 1 July 2016 implementation of the Simplified Student Visa Framework.
  • In 2016-17, there were notable increases in visa grants for Nepal (73.7 per cent), Brazil (32.1 per cent), and Colombia (24.2 per cent). In 2016-17, student visa grants to applicants outside Australia for the ELICOS Sector increased by 22.1 per cent and the Higher Education Sector increased by 12.7 per cent when compared with the same period last year.
  • As at 30 June 2017, there were 443,798 student visa holders in Australia. Over one third of students were from China (23.5 per cent) or India (13.4 per cent).
  • Lodgements for the Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa increased by 26.2 per cent in the 2016-17 programme year to 30 June 2017 when compared with the same period last year, as a greater number of students in Australia became eligible to meet the requirements for the Post-Study Work stream.

International business remains strong!

In that regard, it remains an interest that the system is being reviewed (again) through submissions on the Visa Simplification: Transforming Australia’s Visa System Consultation Paper.

Without question three key drivers of Australia’s future economic prosperity – international education, tourism and skilled migration (where required) all rely on having a visa framework that is seamless, and effective. For us, Australia needs a modern visa system to support temporary stays in Australia for study and work.

ACPET, together with COPHE, English Australia and Navitas have made a submission to this paper

In continuing to grow a dynamic Tertiary education industry our key points were:

  • There is merit in reducing the current 99 visa subclasses down to a smaller, more manageable and more easily understood set of visas. That said, it is important that a reformed system includes a visa with the primary purpose of allowing the visa holder to study and work in Australia. The system must also facilitate other temporary visa holders – visitors and workers – to be able to study
  • The redesign of Australia’s visa system should be built upon the pillars of:
    -furthering our economic, social and security interests

    -operating smoothly, seamlessly and transparently for all users of the system; and

    -is flexible enough to accommodate and facilitate current and future models of cross-border movements of people for all purposes such as changes in the future of work and learning.

I will let you pick up the rest from our submission.

However, the other key point we do make is that the shifting of immigration risk to education and training providers remains contentious. An unintended consequence is the cost to education providers in managing this risk throughout the student’s stay in Australia without access to data that helps them understand risk profiles.

This remains a real issue that does need to be addressed.

Rod Camm
Chief Executive Officer


ACPET | Members Login | Search | Legal