Representing quality private education
providers in Australia

The week that was...

Monday, June 22 2015

This week saw the inaugural roundtable on international education held in Canberra. It was an opportunity for the sector to meet with a range of Ministers’ whose responsibility intersects with international education as an industry.

The roundtable was attended by the Hon Christopher Pyne, Minister for Education and Training, the Hon Julie Bishop, Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Ian Macfarlane, Minister for Industry and Trade, Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, Assistant Minister for Education and Training and Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women.

The discussions centered on the draft National Strategy for International Education. While never an easy task to encapsulate the key strategies needed across the education sectors, the strategy is a critical piece of the framework to position Australia as a quality destination of choice. The key outcomes from the discussions are that there is more work to be done and the Strategy needs to genuinely articulate the vision and direction for education. This aspiration can ensure governments and industry can work together to further improve this already dynamic export industry.

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In this regard last week’s announcements on the simplified student visa framework (SSVF) are a great step forward. The new arrangements for student visas will undoubtedly support further growth. ACPET made a detailed submission to the federal government review of student visa arrangements following feedback from members and advocated for simpler arrangements that supported all providers seeking to grow their international business, and delivered a level playing field for education and training organisations.

It was great to see that the number of student visa categories will be reduced from eight to two and a simplified immigration risk framework adopted.

On the international front, we have been in discussions regarding the potential to establish a ‘Visa Clearinghouse’ in key source countries. The model is essentially to quality assure students applications to ensure they are genuine and will meet Visa requirements. The approach involves interviews and verification of documentation.

I would be interested in your views about such an approach.

To change topics it was somewhat of a surprise to see the Senate reconsider the Higher Education Reforms this week. The proposal to uncouple the reforms and consider the allocation of CSPs and removal of the administration fee for elements of the private sector was put forward without consultation or engagement with the industry. We obviously have and would support such a move if all the elements are considered for the Non University Higher Education Providers, rather than any segment of them. We even have a view as to how to fund it.

This week will see ACPET appearing at the Queensland Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee in relation to the Queensland Training Assets Management Authority (QTAMA) Repeal Bill 2015. It is very much about facilitating student choice and the best use of public facilities.

Our National Conference continues to get closer. I have previously told you about the session debating the role of private providers. We have also a panel session on key regulators from the industry. The panel will consider whether we really are improving the quality of the sector. An interesting and important topic that I would love for you to be involved in.

Have a great week!

Rod Camm


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