Reviving Australia’s International Education Sector

The Australian federal government recently released The Strategy for International Education, a report which highlights just how crucial international education is to Australia’s economy and what effect the pandemic and travel restrictions have had on this sector. With the number of international students in Australia falling by 22% in 2020, a new approach was needed. At Acumen, we are passionate about high-quality education so we take a look at The Strategy for International Education and what measures the government is taking to support this crucial sector.

Australia is known for its world-leading education sector and in the past ten years, international student numbers have grown by 151%. With nearly a million overseas students in 2019 and a value to the economy of $40.3 billion, this booming sector is becoming of increasing importance to the economy. However, with some of the strictest lockdown measures in the world, many international students have been unable to study in Australia and there are key areas for improvement which the report highlights.

The new Strategy for International Education

In response to the huge fall in international students caused by the pandemic, wider issues have also been brought to the surface, such as a limited number of source countries, increasing global competition and geopolitical tensions. The new strategy is focussed on four pillars, which are:

  • Growth and global competitiveness
  • Meeting Austalia’s skills gap
  • Student-centred
  • Diversification

The pandemic highlighted a number of areas where International Education offerings could be improved, from better online learning options to the unequal distribution of universities that receive overseas student revenue.

Measures to support the education sector

As part of the strategy to rethink International Education and provide further support during the lockdown, the government has announced a range of funding measures, from fee relief to seed-funding to increased funding for private English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students providers. The top 5 source countries for international students in Australia are China, India, Malaysia, Singapore and Nepal, and these students mainly studied at six universities which together accounted for half of all student revenue.

Mitigating future risk

As border restrictions ease and International students begin to return to Australia, it’s important for institutions and the government to better mitigate and manage risks, like a global pandemic. By introducing new teaching methods, a greater diversity of courses and focus on student experience, whether they are studying online or on campus, universities can build a more robust international offering. The strategy also aims to increase transnational education where courses are delivered in partnership with an overseas institution or at offshore campuses around the world.

Building a more robust international education sector

At Acumen, we pride ourselves on our reputation for the innovative and effective internationalisation of higher education institutions. We have worked with world-leading universities to improve their offering for overseas students, increase revenue and build a more future-proof institution. As the challenges of internationalisation become clearer in Australia and countries around the world, our expertise and experience can be truly transformative.

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