The immediate future of the Australian international education sector is looking bleak, according to reports from The Australian that a new modelling has found student numbers will continue to decline throughout 2013. The modelling predicts that revenue will drop from $18 billion in 2009 to $14 billion in 2013 before seeing a 23% increase in enrollments over the next few years to 2020.
Such declines will mean a loss of 23,000 jobs, including 7,300 in education institutions and college collapses.
Stephen Connelly, outgoing president of the International Education Association of Australia (IEAA): "The top to bottom drop of 23 per cent in numbers of students between 2009 and 2013 will account for a 22 per cent drop in the value of education as an export."
The modelling also took into account government reforms and their potential effects.
"These reforms are likely to have a positive impact on numbers of commencing international students. It's essential that post-study work rights are legislated as quickly as possible. If all recommended reforms are implemented, IEAA has modelled that from 2013 numbers of commencing international students across most education sectors will grow by 5 per cent annually," Mr Connelly said.
In related news, The Australian also reported that the upcoming post-study work rights granted to international students may backfire if Australia’s economy cools and the job market tightens. Adding fuel to concerns regarding employers’ willingness to hire non-permanent residents, a lack of jobs may negate the positive effects of the new legislation. Worse still, if international students are unable to find employment after study, it may create disillusionment and reputational damage.
Michael Chaney, chair of a government advisory group on international education, said "this is a really important issue and there is a real risk [students not being able to find work] will be realised."
In an effort to combat any potential economic threat to post-study work rights, Phil Honeywood, executive director of IEAA, suggested the Australian Government look to Canada’s model of a paid internships program exclusively for international students.
A UK Vice-Chancellor has warned that the increased standing of Asian universities could significantly reduce the number of international students coming to the UK, reported The Telegraph. The Times Higher Education World University Rankings released earlier this month saw Asian universities make substantial gains in contrast to UK universities, which had some "elite" universities decreasing in rank.
Terence Kealey, vice-chancellor at the University of Buckingham, commented on the latest rankings, saying that Asian universities can grow much faster than UK universities, explaining that "it’s easier to catch up than to be a pioneer." Both the UK and the US have traditionally dominated the top 200 of the world rankings, representing more than half of the places between them.
"Any university chancellor who thinks their numbers of Asian students will be anything like where they are today in 20 years time is living in a fantasy world," said Mr Kealey.
It’s not all bad news in the UK, however, as two positive stories came out over the past few weeks. A high court ruling has granted international students permission to continue studying at London Metropolitan University as long as they are already in the UK and have appropriate immigration status, reported Al Arabiya News. London Met recently had its licence to recruit non-EU students revoked after a UK Border Agency audit found the university did not meet the required standards for the licence (for more information, please see Issue 18 of the IEU).
Times Higher Education also reported that in spite of the August 2011 riots, the Student Insight Report found that students perceived the UK as the safest place to study. Since 2008, safety has become an increasingly important factor in choosing where to study (for more information, please see Issue 12 of IEU).
In Issue 17 of the IEU, we asked you for your thoughts on extending the SVP arrangements to other sectors.
75% of respondents agreed that the arrangements should be extended. Those who disagreed took it one step further, saying that the SVP structure should be scrapped completely. One respondent said:
"No institution, whether of higher learning or otherwise, should be in a position to unilaterally determine the eligibility of an international student to qualify for a student visa. There should be objective and measurable standards set by an independent body such as the department of immigration."
The VET sector was cited as the sector for where the arrangements should be extended.
We also asked education agents worldwide the same question through the IEU’s sister publication, the Education Agent Bulletin. From their perspective, SVP has significantly improved the recruitment process and 94% agreed that extending the arrangements would be a good idea. Of the responses, VET was again the most popular choice for extension and again, those who disagreed also preferred the arrangements be scrapped completely. One respondent focussed on the additional hurdle the GTE requirement puts on countries with assessment level (AL) 1 and 2 ratings, saying:
"...SVP sounds great for those countries with a higher AL, but it is really inconvenient for AL1 as they are now required to submit additional documents (eg financial arrangements) to SVP providers. It would be better if the students can choose if they want SVP or usual DIAC assessment level [when applying for a visa]."
In light of Michael Chaney’s comments above regarding the post-study work rights, we want to know your thoughts on the upcoming legislation.
Post-study work rights will aid in the recruitment of international students.
During agent workshops in Korea, China and Vietnam, there was overwhelming agreement that the upcoming post-study work rights would assist in recruiting students in their market. 96% of Chinese, 93% of Korean and 89% of Vietnamese agents believed it would increase Australia’s attractiveness.
Do you think the upcoming work rights will be an incentive for international students, or does it require more planning before it will significantly impact student numbers?
International students in the UK are queuing through the night to register with the police, reports The Guardian.
ICEF Monitor reports a new policy has made it easier for students to immigrate to Canada.
British Council: "friend or foe?", asks The Guardian.
Germany has become more attractive to Indian students after numbers surged 19% for 2011-12, reports Times of India.
Irish Independent reports students could be out of pocket a combined €85,000 after Cork International College ceased trading last year.
Qualtrain International is holding a half-day seminar on 'Identifying Fraudulent Documents'. A full-day seminar is also being held on the education systems of 'China and India'. Sessions will be held in October 2012 in Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Sydney and Auckland. These seminars will be highly beneficial to anyone involved with international students.
Further details and booking information can be found at Qualtrain International.