One of the most active presences in the construction of knowledge about the trade in education services (especially higher education services) is the Australian Government, especially via the Department of Education Science and Training. The Australian Government is one of the most strategic actors in both constructing the global trade in education services, but also understanding and representing (e.g., via the creation of trade statistics) the development process. This is how they represent their own role:
The Department of Education, Science and Training, through Australia Education International (AEI), plays a key role in facilitating a sustainable education and training export industry through collaboration with other government departments and agencies, industry providers and state and territory governments. AEI works through an extensive offshore network to directly promote and market the quality and expertise of Australian education, science and training.
This role includes extensive government-to-government relationship building and participation in international forums to negotiate Australia’s education interests. AEI represents the Australian Government in several Joint Working Groups to further pursue recognition of Australia’s education systems and qualifications, and to open opportunities for the education of the education industry.
AEI is also instrumental in positioning the high quality of Australia’s education and training systems internationally through its extensive support for the Study-in-Australia brand, both on and offshore. AEI delivers services through a network of offshore offices in 15 countries and extends its reach through partnership with Austrade.
The regulatory framework, provided under the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act 2000, the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) and the National Code, assures the quality and sustainability of the education and training industry for overseas students studying in Australia. AEI-NOOSR (formerly the National Office of Overseas Skills Recognition) provides a coherent framework for skills and qualifications recognition in collaboration with professional associations and other industry partners. This work supports Australia’s Skilled Migration Programme as well as Australia’s education and training export industry. The Australian Government also works to establish both bilateral and multilateral mutual-recognition arrangements.
One way to begin understanding the official Australian view is to subscribe to the newsletter that Australian Education International produces. The eNewsletter “contains short summaries of information items on international education that are garnered from the DEST International Network of Education, Science and Training Counsellors and selected Austrade offices around the world each week”. These eNewsletters are are circulated nationally and globally every Wednesday afternoon (GMT +10). This week’s newsletter just arrived in my Inbox and is pasted in below to convey a sense of content and approach.
ENEWSLETTER: EDITION 037/2007 [12 September 2007]
|Welcome to the AEI eNewsletterThe AEI eNewsletter contains summaries of new market intelligence items on international education provided this week by the DEST International Network of Education, Science and Training Counsellors in key locations around the world, and other sources including DEST National Office. CRICOS-registered Australian institutions that subscribe to AEI’s Market Information Package (MIP) can use the eNewsletter as an indexing and access tool to full information and contacts for items in which they are interested.|
|New Korean-Language Resource to Help Promote ‘Study Law in Australia’ (National Office)
Australian providers offering law-related programs and interested in attracting more Korean students are encouraged to link to the new Korean version of “Study Law in Australia 2007” developed by the Council of Australia Law Deans.
|AEI Market Information Package (MIP) subscribers can view full details of these summaries by accessing the ONLINE NEWSLETTER. Full details of Market Information is accessible by subscription to the AEI Market Information Package, which requires a registered login and password. If you would like to consider access to the Market Information Package, please refer to the Apply for MIP page for information on eligibility, fees, terms and conditions and the application form.MARKETING OPPORTUNITIES:
You will find, as you note, the focus on overseas recruitment is very strong at present in Australia. The University of Melbourne, one of the top 3 institutions, is not proposing to base offshore but is nonetheless completely changing its curriculum along North American lines, and refocussing student numbers on lucrative Masters level courses with an overseas marketability (because international fees are higher). Because it is in the transition to this new ‘Melbourne Model’ there are complications – cost overruns, huge staff dissatisfaction (numbers of undergrad majors will be reduced), and some skepticism from Australian parents and potential students. Also, the old system will have to be taught out. There are redundancies on the table for staff (voluntary at present) to reduce costs and to respond to the new teaching needs. Lesson: do educational reform SLOWLY not QUICKLY (this is being phased in over only two years from start to finish). See widespread media reporting for further details. Geography has been saved rather than axed, thank goodness, but by moving Faculties.
One interesting aspect of this is rent-seeking – some academics regard the restructuring as an opportunity to promote their own interests or disciplines above others, rather than working towards the common project. Thus in the choice of reduced numbers of Majors and the creation of new larger Schools (another cost saving measure) there have been some nasty dealings. The Fac.of XXX has been badly affected and the Dean brought in to oversee changes to this august institution lasted just one year before resigning last month, faced with reducing a $12m defecit as well as doing curriculum and organisational changes. See media reports in The Age.