Representing quality private education
providers in Australia

Looking outward

Monday, November 23 2015

International education is topical right now, with these positive points quoted often –

  • It’s Australia’s largest services export, worth $18.1bn in the last financial year
  • Enrolment growth is at 10% across sectors in the last year, with VET at 14% growth
  • Long term national plans are soon to be finalised – A National Strategy for International Education and Austrade’s Australian International Education (AIE) 2025.

And even a report released last week from the Overseas Student Ombudsman’s office is better news than you’d realise from the media coverage. See more details on that here.

In the rapidly approaching New Year, focus will grow on the implementation of a new student visa approach, the Simplified Student Visa Framework. Expected to be in place mid-2016, it should realise welcome improvements for education providers and students coming to Australia.

But many education providers are increasingly also looking outward to that other growth area - transnational education or TNE. Working in-country in many different ways, not only in the delivery of training, is opening doors and minds.

TNE is included in the ‘new opportunities’ objective within ACPET’s own draft International Strategy 2016 -18. And it’s one of two of Austrade’s identified challenges in their market development plan, AIE 2025. –

“Can Australia increase the number of people overseas who are learning and training via Australian-developed courses or content?”

A widening gap between demand for skills and skilled labour supply is acknowledged in many global regions. Ambitious plans to solve this are in place in, for example - India, the Middle East and Latin America, to upskill workforces to support economic development. Plans that can’t be fulfilled by local education providers alone. Austrade says “TNE is expected to deliver strong economic returns for Australia”.

ACPET has been considering what is needed to grow TNE possibilities. Some thoughts so far -

  • Innovation – new products and business models are needed for different labour markets, non-standard employment and non-traditional students. Consider the possibilities of digital delivery, non-accredited skills, corporate training, bite-sized learning, or finding your own niche in the value chain.
  • Collaboration – the significant size of many markets and the benefits of working with local partners can mean working with, not against, those who’d otherwise be competition. Consortia of Australian education providers are now being requested more frequently.
  • Capability building – we need to keep building the knowledge and skills of education organisations to understand the diversity of global/local skill needs, cultural and business sensitivities, how to analyse opportunities for ‘right fit’ and the policy or regulatory issues of different countries.
  • The right mindset – stepping out into the world is clearly more challenging than staying in the familiarity of your own backyard. It is essential to encourage entrepreneurship and risk taking backed by accurate market information, trusted facilitators and quality ‘umbrella’ brands such as ACPET and Austrade. As is a providers’ due diligence of course!

What else could be added to this list?

An increasingly ‘outward’ focus also flows from free trade agreements with China, South Korea, Japan, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and others in the pipeline. ACPET is adding more on these developments to our professional development offerings for 2016.

And our forward plan of proposed delegations to Indonesia, (see details here) India and Mexico in 2016 will help members to explore business relationships in those countries.

Thank you to those members who’ve made final comments on ACPET’s draft International Strategy 2016-18. We’ll continue to work closely with you and other stakeholders as we roll out the more specific activities of our Annual Plan for 2016.

It will be a year in which we can keep building on Australia’s global reputation as a quality education system - by creating better student experiences for those coming here, as well as taking our valuable product out into the world, so that students can benefit from within their own home countries.

For more information see –

ACPET’s draft International Strategy 2016-18

Austrade’s Australia International Education 2015

Draft National Strategy for International Education

Paula Johnston
International Engagement Manager


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