Saving international ed from shonks

Australian education reputation needs to be protected from nefarious education agents who are currently damaging the nation’s brand, according to the new House-Senate Committee report on international education.

The report identified a need for yet another national brand to attract international students but warned the brand needed to be protected from, “nefarious education agents who are damaging Australia’s reputation for international students by channelling students into ghost school providers and then onto illegal work practices.”

Ways to grow the industry while ensuring its quality are key themes in the new report, which has a strong focus on protecting students and institutions from agents, whose,

“practices can include misleading advertisements, false promises of guaranteed visas or employment, exorbitant fees, and inadequate support for students’ welfare,” the report said.

“Such practices can exploit vulnerable students, mislead them about educational opportunities and outcomes, and lead to financial and emotional distress.”

The report also proposes a two-tier system for international students in VET, with TAFEs exempted from regulations imposed on private providers.

Recommendations in the comprehensive interim report include:

  • A “Team Australia” brand-build programme and a five-year plan to diversify markets;
  • Diversification of educational offerings in existing markets, especially India;
  • Better integration between education institutions and employers on work integrated leaning;
  • Stopping professional accreditation bodies imposing “unreasonable barriers” on internationals with Australian qualifications filling skills shortages;
  • The government “review and consider” universities outsourcing CBD campuses catering to internationals to private providers;
  • Improving intel on exploitation of student visas;
  • “Address persistent and deep-seated integrity issues in the private VET sector”
  • Cost-recovery assessment of all 932 private providers
  • Cracking down on agents and cost-recovery funded regulation
  • TAFE to have the same standing as universities under the Simplified Student Visa Framework.

To which Independent Tertiary Education Australia responded, the preference for TAFE;
“is based on no more than the ideology that says the public provider is best, something that the government’s own data says is a flawed basis for policy making.”



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