Further reports on the recent drop in international student numbers have come out with The Australian reporting on final figures from DFAT. From 2009 to 2011, total earning dropped $2.6bn to $14.9bn. While the new figure is $200,000 less than the ABS’ figure of $15.1bn for 2011 (as reported in Issue 8 of the IEU), the drop is still significantly less than the originally estimated decrease of $3.3bn from 2010 to 2011 (For more information, please see Issue 7 of the IEU).
Although the 2009 boom period is still fresh within the collective minds of the industry, the article points out that on a five-year trend, total earnings for 2011 were up 2%. More importantly, however, the VET sector, which saw its total earnings shaved by a third in 2011, may be on the verge of recovery, as interest from India increases.
As the dust settles on the 2011 figures, The Australian also reported that 2012 looks set to be a third consecutive drop for international education as international student numbers plummet to a five year low. Year to June figures show the industry’s value has been sliced by $1.34bn, dropping 8.5%.
It’s the usual suspects for the 2012 drop, with a high Australian dollar, visa processing issues and increased competition from around the world mostly to blame. The PIE News, however, reported that the new Tuition Protection Scheme (TPS) may also be damaging student numbers. The TPS, which came into effect on 1 July, restricts the amount of tuition an institution can request for the first installment of fees as well as when an institution can request the second installment.
Such restrictions have had significant impacts on the cash flow of institutions and, in order to combat this change, it appears that many institutions maybe delaying commission payments to agents or separating commission into two installments. While a delayed or split commission system may help the institution, it could potentially act as a deterrent for agents and encourage them to send students to countries with full commission payments from the start.
Suli Perez of Aussintech, Colombia, said: "It is pretty annoying, because if the student goes for more than 24 weeks we are paid just 50% of the commission then have to wait at least three or four months to receive the other 50%.
"If the students want to go for longer, we may advise them to go to Canada, the UK or New Zealand, although the problem is they are not allowed to work as easily."
Ian Pratt, managing director of the Lexis English chain: "...School cash flow is [now] very seriously restricted and it seems that this will do nothing but ensure more school failures, leading to yet more burden upon the TPS fund, which in turn will mean that schools will need to contribute more to it.
"We’ve seen an absurd number of regulatory changes… While some tweaks were most definitely required, the ham-fisted approach taken by the Gillard government has simply led to more and more school failures and an extremely unattractive trading environment."
Readers will remember in Issue 10 of the IEU we highlighted an article featured in The Australian quoting predictions from Liberal MP Andrew Robb that international student numbers in Australia could skyrocket to ten million over the next ten years. While current student numbers are going in the opposite direction to his prediction, Mr Robb looked towards online courses as the next big industry breakthrough.
Since making his prediction, there has been a lot of talk about Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, and how they may affect the future classroom. University World News carried an article suggesting that MOOCs could signal the decline of the branch campus. The article points out the benefits of online courses: cost, reach, scalability, flexibility and reputation.
For more information on what is a MOOC, check out the video below:
With the advent of the glocal, MOOCs offer the benefits of studying at a prestigious overseas university at a fraction of the cost. The positives translate to the institutions as well, lowering overheads such as campus maintenance, staff (both academic and services) and recruitment costs.
Harvard and MIT already see the potential benefits, according to Inside Higher Ed. Harvard threw its hat in the ring in May, piggybacking on MITx, MIT’s platform for MOOCs. Combined, both institutions have committed $60 million to the project which could see hundreds of thousands of students study the same course at the same time. ReadWriteWeb reported that Princeton; Stanford; the University of California, Berkeley; the University of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania would also be entering the world of MOOCs.
In Australia, online courses and distance education are by no means a new concept. Organisations such as Open Universities Australia have long been offering distance learning via the internet. PIER has also been offering online training for the better part of a decade, through the Education Agent Training Course (EATC) and more recently the International Student Leadership Program (ISLP).
Courseara co-founder Daphne Koller, during a recent TED talk, suggested that MOOCs have created insights into how students engage in the classroom. During her talk, she said that online learning takes the best from both education and the internet, creating a more engaged learner. This shift in education means a change in teaching style, according to Koller: "We should spend less time at universities filling our students' minds with content by lecturing at them, and more time igniting their creativity … by actually talking with them."
The International Student Leadership Program (ISLP) is an online course that develops leadership skills for Australian and international students. The program has been designed to develop leadership, advising and support skills and provide students with a working knowledge of the Australian international education industry and an understanding of the regulatory framework.
The ISLP develops the skills and knowledge to effectively lead and support international students studying in Australia.
Upon completion of the program, students receive an online certificate. Students who have completed the program have used it to springboard into leadership positions in their institution’s students body.
The ISLP is a free online course developed in association between the Council of International Students Australia (CISA) and PIER.
To access the ISLP, visit cisa.edu.au, click the International Student Leadership Program logo and follow the prompts to register.
International students in German universities hit a record 250,000 in 2011, reported The PIE News.
Genius Recruiter highlighted six successful Higher Education social media campaigns.
ACPET has launched a China office, reported Hothouse Media.
ICEF Monitor featured highlights from the Student Insight report on the decision making process of international students.
Meld Magazine asked if Europe’s economic crisis is affecting its students studying in Australia.
A Canadian Government report has recommended foreign students pay local student fees, reported The Star.