Australian Government’s Draft International Education Framework To Cost Jobs

Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA)

The most significant outcome of the draft International Education and Skills Strategic Framework released by the Australian Government will be job losses across the international education sector. That’s the assessment of the Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA), the peak body representing independent skills training, higher education, and international education providers.

Although there are some positive approaches regarding quality that ITECA members supports, the draft framework sets out a policy direction driven by short-term populism over concerns about overseas migration and tenuous links between the cost of housing in urban centres.

Over the past decade, international education in Australia has traditionally been a key contributor to the nation’s economic and social prosperity, facilitating substantial community benefits, strengthening global relationships, and aligning educational outcomes with the nation’s skill needs. However, the Australian Government’s new strategic framework suggests a drastic shift through increased regulation and oversight, which ITECA members argue is excessive.

The Australian Government’s strategy includes tightening regulations on student visas, such as raising English language and financial requirements, and granting the Immigration Minister increased powers to curb recruitment. Here, ITECA members argue that the Australian Government is erroneously targeting international education providers, whereas it would have been better to have improved administration of the migration system.

ITECA members have problems with the government’s command-and-control approach to international education set out in the draft framework. It seeks to tell independent tertiary education institutions what they should and shouldn’t offer international students. For international students, the Australian Government’s approach is even more profound as it suggests that the government tell students what they will study and where.

On balance, ITECA members believe the framework is a collection of ordinary policy options lumped together with a series of bad ones. It reflects a chaotic approach to international education, where there is little relationship between tertiary education reform, the migration strategy, and a non-existent population strategy. The Australian Government’s failure to set out a vision for population growth means it cannot articulate the number of international students in Australia and what relationship, if any, those students have to Australia’s future workforce needs.

The advice from ITECA members is clear. The Australian Government’s proposed strategy will cost jobs across more than one thousand international skills training and higher education providers committed to providing quality student outcomes.

ITECA will work with the Australian Government to seek amendments to the strategy so that it puts students at the heart of an international education system where quality is underpinned by a framework that clearly sets out the relationship between international education to economic growth and a much-needed, but currently non-existent, population strategy.

/Public Release.