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Edition 550, 21 April 2014

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Success for ACPET members in China (and a few domestic matters too)

Monday, April 21 2014

I write today’s column from 30,000 feet above Australia’s wide brown plains – heading home after two very important weeks in China. The first was as part of the Prime Minister and Trade Minister’s mission to China (for details see last week’s article here). The second was heading up a delegation of 17 ACPET members for meetings in Chengdu, Chongqing and Beijing.

Members who accompanied me reflected the diversity of ACPET’s membership – including CRICOS and non-CRICOS provision, secondary schools, English language schools, VET and higher education, large multinationals and small businesses, those with extensive experience in China and those on their first visit.

The trip had three main purposes:

  1. To negotiate improved recognition arrangements for Australian private providers (operating in Australia under CRICOS and in China in joint venture arrangements), including through listing on the JSJ website,
  2. To explore partnership and cooperation opportunities between Chines vocational colleges and ACPET member RTOs and higher education institutions, and
  3. To bring members up-to-speed with the pace of fast moving tertiary (and specifically VET) reforms in China.

It also provided an introduction to opportunities in China and the challenges of doing business there, for those with no prior experience.

On each of these measures the trip was a success.

Improved recognition arrangements

The trip served as a major reminder of the need for governments to carefully explain policy changes (especially when they involve cooperation with other governments). In this instance I am referring to the negotiation by the Australian government of mutual recognition for all Australian higher education qualifications by the Chinese Services Centre for Scholarly Exchange (CSCSE).

Because the agreement has not been well communicated to Australian higher education institutions, the benefits to Chinese students studying with an Australian provider are, at best, not well known, and at worst, not known at all and therefore not used.

Allow me therefore to explain...

Each Chinese student who graduates with a higher education diploma or higher qualification is able, on their return home to China, to lodge an application with CSCSE to have the qualification recognised as being equivalent to a Chinese higher education qualification.

The process takes an average of 20 working days and the CSCSE uses the TEQSA national register as their guide for recognition. The process is entirely transparent and has a free appeals process – but it does not provide for automatic recognition – each qualification is individually checked to avoid fraud.

While, just as in Australia, Chinese employers are not compelled to offer graduates jobs on the basis of their recognised qualifications – this mutual recognition agreement removes the mystery of Australian qualifications for Chinese employers and gives your graduates a clear process to assist them in gaining employment after graduation.

ACPET will have specific advice to its higher education members shortly and recommends that each HEP member provides this explicit advice to all of their Chinese students prior to enrolment and again on graduation.

ACPET looks forward to the Australian government negotiating similar arrangements for VET qualifications and will be working with officials in government (in Australia and our Embassy in China) to pursue this.

In addition, ACPET’s work in both China and Australia to lift the quality bar, has delivered a significant pay-off, with the Chinese Ministry of Education agreeing to include ACPET members on the JSJ website – a small number initially drawn from those who participated on the delegation, and a clear process for others to be added after the initial few. Once again I will have further information on this important breakthrough to members in the weeks ahead.

Opportunities to partner with Chinese institutions

Thanks to the excellent work done by ACPET’s China Executive Officer, Mrs Li Min, delegates met with a range of officials and representatives from Chinese Vocational Colleges, Senior Vocational High Schools and International Schools in both Chengdu and Chongqing. Importantly the meetings had the suport of local officials in both Chengdu and Chongqing who are keen to see collaboration between Chinese institutions and Australian private providers.

Prof Lu Hong shows delegates around the very impressive Chongqing Electronics Engineering Vocational College

In addition, with the recent announcement by the Chinese government of reforms to introduce a vocational alternative to the traditional Gaokao (China’s National Higher Education Entrance Examination), and the reforms agreed by the Chinese State Council to vocational education including more engagement with enterprises, more private sector investment in public vocational colleges and a continuing commitment to lift quality – there are now more than ever real opportunities for ACPET members to partner with Chinese institutions.

To build on those partnership opportunities ACPET will lead another delegation to China in late 2014 or early 2015. To register your interest click here.

Other offshore opportunities

Following this highly successful delegation, I am now looking forward to the opportunity to take delegations of members to Indonesia next month and India in June. Both trips represent significant opportunities for ACPET and its members, with the strength of the private tertiary sector in Indonesia one of its key features (and significant interest from leading enterprises to meet with ACPET members during the delegation), and ACPET looking to establish an office in India in 2015. Details are included in the NMU article that follows.

ACPET's Domestic Agenda

For those members not (yet) interested in offshore opportunities – rest assured we have not been idle on the domestic front.

  1. We have been a part of the debate on the Kemp-Norton review recommendations (from last week's NMU article and media release, to an unpublished letter to the editor of the Higher Education Supplement of The Australian, and a subsequent media release);
  2. We are making progress on the roll out of our major new initiative for 2014-15, the ACPET Quality Support Team (click here for a short video outlining the quality support ACPET will offer its members from July this year – and many thanks to Justin at JMC Academy for his videoing skills);
  3. We have made a submission to the Queensland Government on International Education reform (click here) and been part of a formal presentation by all International Education Peak Bodies to the Australian Government on student visa reform;
  4. We have engaged with the South Australian government on Skills for All proposed changes; and
  5. This week I head to Canberra for further discussions on VET reform.

​Claire Field
Chief Executive Officer



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