Australia announces international education funding

The Australian government has pledged AUS$3.62 million of funding for a range of initiatives to progress the implementation of the country's international education strategy.

"This funding will support 14 innovative projects to help strengthen and grow Australia's booming international education sector," said Senator Simon Birmingham, the Minister for Education and Training.


"From support for think tanks, international collaborations and conferences through backing initiatives that boost student internships and raising the profile of our English language training, these new projects focus on enhancing the experience of international students studying in Australia." The country's first international education strategy was launched last year.


Minister Birmingham said that the government would also be expanding the biennial international student survey to capture information about graduate employment outcomes and increase the reach of the survey. "Having access to timely student data helps our education providers monitor where demand is growing and track their own success against national benchmarks," he said.  


Language school sector peak body, English Australia, welcomed the announcement and its role in some of the funding projects, including AUS$150,000 for a scheme to raise the profile of the English language sector in China.


In a circular to member schools, Brett Blacker, CEO of the association, said, "Australia's international education sector has been fortunate due to the attractiveness as a study destination for Chinese students. However, those in the English language teaching sector would appreciate that the vast majority of these students select English language courses or Elicos as part of their pathway to university study, with very few selecting to study Elicos only."


He continued, "The Minister has recognised the opportunity for the Elicos sector to expand, and English Australia will be leading a project to investigate the market drivers and conditions to develop a stand-alone Elicos market with China, encompassing both onshore recruitment and offshore delivery. The aim is to collect and analyse relevant data and market information with a view to expanding the breadth of, and diversifying, Australia's China Elicos market."


Brett said that the Department of Education and Training had also confirmed ongoing support for the association's annual market analysis of the Elicos sector, adding that this report captures data on all international students at English language schools, regardless of visa type.


In the last full-year English Australia market report, around one-third of all international students were not student visa holders, with most of those arriving on either visitor or working holiday visas.


Other initiatives successful in the round of funding include scoping for a 'sharing economy' model for student accommodation; market action plans to be developed by Austrade; strategic engagement projects with India and Indonesia; and continuing support for the Council for International Students annual conference.


Unveiling the new funding initiatives, Minister Birmingham also welcomed the latest international student data, which showed a 14 per cent increase in the first four months of 2017, compared with the same period of the previous year.


"International students consistently report that the quality of our educational qualifications and the quality of our education system are the main reasons Australia continues to be their first choice destination," he said.


The application period for the next round of projects is expected to open in 2017.


At the time of writing, AUS$1 = US$0.77



By Matthew Knott

News Editor