Through the strategy, we aim to improve student access to high-quality education, supported by effective industry links and student services.
The most recent International Student Survey (2014) indicated that 93 per cent of international students selected Australia as a study destination because of the reputation of Australian teaching institutions, the quality of teaching and assurance of their personal safety. Testament to the quality of Australian education is the number of international alumni of Australia who go on to become senior figures in their own countries.
Australian universities are ranked highly in terms of their international outlook, with 24 of our universities featuring in the 2015 Times Higher Education World’s Most International Universities list. This list assesses the diversity of a university’s student body and the extent to which its academics collaborate with international colleagues.
The strategy will build on these achievements. New modes of education delivery and new national and international partnerships will allow more students to have access to an Australian education. Although onshore learning in Australia will remain a core component of Australian international education, learning will increasingly occur in-market and online.
New visa arrangements and links with industry will prepare students for the workplace and improve employability. In 2013, changes were made to allow greater access to post-study work for international students who studied onshore in Australia. These post-study work visas enable international students to remain in Australia on completion of a higher education degree for 2–4 years—more than many other countries. In addition, we have announced changes to our student visa processing arrangements, making them simpler and easier to navigate.
Through the strategy, we aim to increase market share, build connections with new and emerging markets, and develop stronger international relationships.
International education is currently one of Australia’s top service exports, valued at over $19 billion in 2015 (including fees and associated expenditure). The sector currently supports more than 130,000 jobs in Australia. International education is forecast to be one of the main sectors on a high growth trajectory, acknowledging the significant increase in demand from middle-income economies with large and mobile youth populations.
The Deloitte Access Economics report, Growth and Opportunity in Australian International Education, projects that Australia’s onshore enrolments will grow by around 45 per cent by 2025, which equates to Australia hosting around 720,000 students onshore. This growth presents significant opportunities.
India, for example, has indicated it seeks to train around 400 million people by 2022. Given the scale of this demand, there is great potential for Australian training providers to play a significant role in helping India to meet this target. The Australian Government is working closely with India to increase our trade and investment linkages and we have appointed an education ambassador to India to help promote our education services. China presents similar opportunities for Australia, with current student numbers representing only a fraction of the potential. The China-Australia Free Trade Agreement places us well to take advantage of this opportunity.
Our education and specific research strengths attract students, researchers, businesses and entrepreneurs to collaborate with Australia. This is particularly important in research and development, with international collaborations leveraging our research capacity and delivering valuable outcomes in a wide range of disciplines.
Whilst the majority of international students study in metropolitan areas, there are significant opportunities for growth in regional Australia. Education institutions in regional Australia provide considerable research strengths, especially in agriculture, marine science and tropical medicine. Study opportunities in regional Australia can provide tremendous experiences for international students, with tight-knit communities and often plenty of hands-on experience.
Importantly, we recognise that international education offers Australia far more than just economic benefits. It offers opportunities to build enhanced bilateral and multilateral relationships, which increase cultural awareness and social engagement. In addition, diplomacy is advanced through Australian educated alumni who develop lasting connections at personal, organisational and government levels. All of this is fostering better relationships with our regional neighbours and the rest of the world.
For the world
Through the strategy, we aim to increase the world’s capacity in quality education and research and deliver industry-ready graduates in a range of disciplines.
Our location within the Indo-Pacific region places Australia in an ideal position to contribute to meeting the increasing need for education at all levels—schools, vocational education and training, higher education and English language.
Our technological innovations will allow delivery of such education around the world. Our research strengths and collaborative efforts in the technology space are providing answers to global economic, social and environmental challenges.
We are particularly focused on providing students with the skill sets needed for business and industry now and into the future. Links between education providers and industry are providing essential understanding and experience for a new generation of graduates. Our expertise in a range of niche areas can also be of particular value to emerging economies, and help to build their workforce capacity. Australia has specialist offerings in areas such as tropical medicine, agriculture, mining and marine studies.
We have a proven track record of leadership in the development of educational frameworks and curricula. For example, our vocational qualifications in leading services industries such as tourism and hospitality are highly regarded. Other countries look to our education systems as their guide to best practice.
Exporting Australian aviation to the world
Australia has a long and celebrated history of aviation excellence. This reputation and expertise has positioned an Australian training school to successfully deliver aviation qualifications in Saudi Arabia. Aviation Australia, in partnership with Shamel Commercial Investments of Saudi Arabia, established Aviation Australia Riyadh College of Excellence in late 2014. The college trains civil aviation engineers along with students from the Royal Saudi Air Force.
The course curriculum is taught in English and uses work integrated learning approaches. Training is conducted at a purpose-designed aviation training and maintenance facility at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh. Students work on real and simulated aircraft at facilities that include a hanger and an aircraft maintenance environment. Students also receive on-the-job training at an aviation maintenance workplace. Graduates are awarded an Australian diploma that is endorsed by Saudi Skills Standards.
During training, the college supports the development of broad employability skills through guidance in the preparation of cover letters and resumes, interviewing skills and other job search related assistance.
Researchers from the University of New England have developed the Sustainable Manageable Accessible Rural Technologies (SMART) Farm, which tests technologies developed to improve crops, pasture and livestock.
In a collaboration between the university, CSIRO, and numerous large and small enterprises, an array of sensors delivers data to create a living map of growing conditions, including soil moisture, plant growth, temperature, air humidity and winds. This information offers valuable insights into plant, soil and climate interactions at various scales, informing decisions such as when to fertilise, sow seed or move cattle. Farmers can also monitor animals through ear tags, giving them important health information such as when an animal is unwell.SMART Farm data is also being used in Australian classrooms to inspire the next generation of agricultural scientists and farmers.