VET’s International Reputation To Drive New Strategy
Monday, March 4 2019
National Monday Update – 4 March 2019
Troy Williams, ACPET Chief Executive Officer
The Australian Government is finalising its Vocational Education and Training – International Engagement Strategy 2025 and last week the view of the Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET) membership played a large role in shaping the direction that document sets. Our focus was on ensuring that independent providers and government work collaboratively to ensure that the nation’s VET exports are recognised for providing students and their employers with the outcomes they are looking for.
VET exports are recognised by the Australian Government as important to foreign policy interests as this activity increasingly strengthens links between Australia and overseas nations. The most recent data shows that in 2017 there were 217,000 enrolments with Australian VET providers, representing some 27 per cent of all student enrolments. The number of international students gaining exposure to Australia continues to increase with an annual growth rate of 13 per cent year-on-year over 2013-17.
The Australian Government also recognises that VET exports are crucial to Australia’s economic well-being. In 2017, the income derived from internal VET enrolments grew by 19 per cent to $5.2 billion, a figure that represented 17 per cent of total onshore earnings.
It was in this context that the Minister for Small and Family Business, Skills and Vocational Education convened a forum to review the draft
Vocational Education and Training – International Engagement Strategy 2025. Chaired by the Secretary of the Australian Government’s Department of Education the forum considered three key themes:
- Positioning Australia as a preferred country for the provision of quality VET;
- Growing international demand for Australian VET services and expertise off-shore; and
- Positioning Australia as an international leader in the development of a globally strong workforce.
ACPET was one of only two education organisations from the VET sector asked to present at the forum. We highlighted the strong track-record of independent providers that offer the quality outcomes sought by overseas students. Presently, it is independent providers that accept about 90 per cent of international student VET enrolments.
The challenges before the sector are real, given the potential for reputational damage that may be created when international students have a poor experience. ACPET’s focus is to build the partnerships with those involved in the international student export sector to ensure that there is a shared understanding of, and commitment to, building the infrastructure that protects students' welfare and provides them with the outcomes that makes them valuable employees – wherever the student chooses to work.
It was in the context of reviewing the student experience that the work of migration agents, often working as the link between students and training providers, was discussed. At this point in time, this is where the greatest risk to Australia’s international reputation as a quality VET provider can be found.
The ACPET International Education Reference Group is the vehicle that members with an interest in supporting Australia’s overseas education exports, come together and provide the advice and guidance that form our policy advocacy activities. It’s a great time to get involved.
Troy Williams FIML MAICD
ACPET Chief Executive