November 9, 2012

 

Professor Lesleyanne Hawthorne writes:

Amid Australia’s ongoing doctor shortage, the health system risks losing dozens of Australian-trained, foreign-born doctors because of a shortage of intern places. The Australian Medical Students Association estimates the system needs 182 intern places to ensure all international students can finish their medical training and gain full registration as doctors.

These intern, (or post-graduate year one) places, are based in hospitals, which are run by the states. But the Commonwealth also bears some funding responsibility for medical training. The Commonwealth, state and territory health ministers are expected to discuss who should pay and potential solutions to the problem when they meet tomorrow in Perth.

Rise of international student migration

Over the past decade, international students have emerged as a prized and contested human capital resource. OECD and select Asian countries are expanding their international student flows, through global promotion strategies and regional migration programs, aligned with lower entry requirements, including for medical degrees.

International students have been immensely responsive to these migration options. In 1975, 600,000 international students were enrolled abroad, compared with 3.4 million in 2009. By 2025, it is predicted there will be 7.2 million international students studying globally.

A recent British Council survey of 153,000 international students confirmed opportunities for migration exert an extraordinary impact on the choice of study destination. While students sought a high quality, internationally recognised education, the scope to remain and work was found to “massively impact” both decisions and expectations.

 

In 1999, following the removal of a three-year eligibility bar, international students became immediately eligible to migrate to Australia. Within six years of the policy change, 52% of skilled migrants were selected onshore.

By 2010, 630,000 international students were enrolled in Australian courses (all fields and sectors). Of these, 18,487 were undertaking health degrees, including over 3,000 medical and 10,000 nursing students. International medical student graduates grew 223% from 1999 to 2009, compared with 52% growth in Australian domestic graduates.

International medical students

In 2009, the majority of international medical students were enrolled at

  • Monash,
  • Melbourne,
  • Queensland,
  • New South Wales and
  • Sydney universities.

Their source countries were highly diverse – most notably

  • Malaysia (1,134 students),
  • Singapore (577),
  • Canada (437),
  • the United States (84) and
  • Botswana (74), followed by
  • South Korea,
  • Brunei,
  • Hong Kong,
  • Indonesia and
  • Sri Lanka.

These international students achieve stellar rates of immediate employment and are highly attractive to local employers. As demonstrated by yet-to-be-published research conducted for the Medical Deans of Australia, 45% of international students plan to remain in Australia when they commence their studies. By their final year, 78% accept intern places (virtually all those who are not scholarship students sponsored by their home governments).

Australia’s Graduate Destination Survey from 2009-2011 reveals their employment outcomes to be near identical to those achieved by domestic students (99.6% working full-time at four months compared with 99.7%). The source country was almost irrelevant, with 100% of Canadian, US, Malaysian, Indonesian, Taiwanese, Norwegian and Botswanan students fully employed, compared with 97% from Singapore and 89% from China.

International medical graduates

As affirmed by the OECD, Australia has developed extraordinary reliance on international medical graduates (IMGs), who gain their qualifications overseas.

 

By 2006, 45% of Australian residents holding medical qualifications were overseas-born, including an estimated 25% who were overseas-qualified. The United Kingdom/Ireland, China, India, North Africa/ Middle East, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Africa and the Philippines were major sources of migration.

This diversification of supply has proven extremely challenging for Australia. The 2006 census shows just 53% of IMGs secured medical employment in Australia in their first five years of residence (across all immigration categories).

Doctors from English-speaking background countries moved seamlessly into work, while Commonwealth-Asian doctors fared reasonably. Outcomes were poor, by contrast, for many birthplace groups. Just 6% of doctors from China found medical employment within five years, along with 23% from Vietnam and 31% from Eastern Europe.

 

Employment access is significantly better for IMGs selected through the 457 visa temporary sponsored pathway. From 2005-06 to 2010-11 17,910 doctors were sponsored as temporary 457 visa migrants to pre-arranged jobs, with a 99% immediate employment rate.

From 2004-05 to 2010-11, an additional 2,790 IMGs were admitted through the permanent General Skilled Migration category. But not all passed the Australian Medical Council examinations, which are a requirement for unconditional registration in Australia. From 1978 to 2010, 82% of candidates passed the MCQ (the standard theoretical examination), typically on their first or second attempt, along with 85% of clinical candidates. But overall AMC completion rates were just 43%, since many choose not to persist with the process.

Large numbers of IMGs face significant barriers to securing professional registration. By contrast, international medical students face no impediments: they’re of prime workforce age (far younger than IMGs) and have self-funded to meet Australian domestic requirements.

Medical students’ future

We know that large numbers of international medical students wish to migrate to Australia – and access to intern places is critical for them to secure permanent resident status.

If Australia fails to retain these graduates, other countries will. Singapore, for instance, actively recruits in Australia, in a context where the nation’s fertility rate is incredibly low. New Zealand annually registers over 1,200 IMGs per year, but two-thirds will have left within two years. So there is major interest in attracting Australian-trained graduates.

If Australia is serious about retaining international medical students in the future, it’s vital to provide access to intern training places. While the students’ long-term intentions are unknown, it’s clear they have great potential to address Australian workforce shortages in the future.

 

** Lesleyanne Hawthorne is Professor of International Health Workforce, at the Australian Health Workforce Institute, University of Melbourne

This article was first published by The Conversation. A reminder to www.mystudyinaustralia.com readers that TC articles are freely available for republishing under a creative commons licence.

November 7, 2012
November 7, 2012

 With seven of the world’s top 100 universities, Australia has confirmed its position as one of the world’s leading destinations for international students.

Australia has always punched above its weight in the QS World University Rankings, and 2012 is no exception. In fact, Australia’s haul of seven universities in the global top 100 is bettered only by the US and UK.

This tally includes all but one of Australia’s elite Group of Eight, the universities at which the bulk of the nation’s cutting-edge research has traditionally taken place.

  • Australia National University leads the pack in 24th place, extending its lead over second-placed
  • University of Melbourne, which drops slightly to 36.

Fellow Group of Eight members

  • University of Sydney (39) and
  • University of Queensland (46) make the global top 50, with a further three Aussie universities in the top 100:
  • University of New South Wales (52),
  • Monash University(61), and
  • University of Western Australia (79).

 

Great job prospects

So what makes Australian universities stand out? A big strength is their reputation among international employers, which will be good news both for Australian graduates and the 240,000 international students who study there each year.

Interestingly, employers identify the University of Melbourne as the nation’s top producer of graduate talent, and ninth in the world in this measure. The rest of the Group of Eight also performs strongly in this measure, alongside other Australian institutions such as RMIT University and the University of Wollongong.

This high level of international recognition for Australian graduates is testament to Australian universities’ success in preparing candidates for the workplace. Employers are asked to identify the universities that produce the best graduates, meaning the leading Australian universities are regarded as a great place to find highly skilled employees.

 

Global student mix

Australian universities’ success may also be linked to another factor: their internationally diverse character. Australian universities were among the first to really embrace internationalization, and as a result the campuses are meeting points for students and academics from all over the world.

Read More

August 25, 2012

 

USQ Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting) student Clare Anthony took advantage of the Tafe pathway by completing a diploma before beginning her degree.

AN initiative developed between the University of Southern Queensland and Tafe Queensland to encourage more students to take up tertiary education has returned promising results.

More than 740 students have already joined USQ after studying at Tafe’s throughout Australia.

It is a 121 percent increase in 2011 and early results indicate an even stronger result for 2012.

The Queensland Tertiary Education Network, established in 2011 is the second initiative of the university, designed to strengthen the connection between industry, the higher education sector and the vocational education and training sector.

QTEPNet project manager Di Paez said the increase in numbers indicated students were taking advantage of new seamless pathways into a university degree from Tafe programs.

“There have been a number of opportunities opened up for prospective students,” Ms Paez said.

“Many Tafe’s now offer dual awards with USQ with the benefit of being able to jointly market courses that give seamless transition into degree programs and expand on the number of articulation pathways that are already in place.”

Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting) student Clare Anthony took advantage of the Tafe pathway by completing a Diploma of Events Management at the Bremer Institute of Tafe before beginning her degree.

“On completion, I was able to gain direct entry into a USQ business degree without having to reapply and it took one year off my three year degree,” Ms Anthony said.

“I decided to take this route as I wasn’t certain my OP would make the cut off to go directly into university.

“This way I still only had to complete a three year program, but I have a diploma as well as my degree.

“The Tafe to uni option really suited my situation and worked for me. USQ were extremely supportive and I think it is one of the best pathways to university I know of.

“There is no time wasting and you receive the credit you deserve for the hard work you already put in. If I can do it, than anyone can.”

Now in her final year of study, Ms Anthony said she planned to work as an accountant and continue studying to become a Chartered Accountant.

Source: The Chronicle 23rd August 2012

June 1, 2012

The Australian education system has earned a reputation of being one of the most sought after curricula in the world. In June last year, more than 15,000 Malaysian international students were living in Australia.

In 2010, 73 countries took part in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) testing, an internationally standardised assessment for 15-year-olds, conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Australia was placed in the top 10, out-performing most of the large English speaking countries. Seven of Australia’s universities are ranked in the top 100 worldwide.

Considering the above and the popularity of the Australian education in Malaysia, it is undoubted that the Australian International School Malaysia (AISM) has earned an outstanding reputation through its rich and rigorous educational programmes, stimulating learning environments, international and multicultural perspectives and highly qualified and experienced Australian-trained staff.

AISM is a vibrant and growing Kindergarten to Year 12 international school for children from age 3 (Preparation) to age 18 (Year 12). Established in 2000, AISM is the only international school in Malaysia offering an Australian curriculum, delivered by Australian teachers and following the Australian school year.

AISM houses all three of its schools, Junior, Middle and Senior, on one campus and has about 560 students represented by more than 30 nationalities. The school offers a rigorous academic programme leading to the Higher School Certificate (HSC).

Whilst great emphasis is placed on academic excellence, the physical, emotional and social dimensions of growth are seen as crucial elements of the school’s teaching and reflect the Australian education philosophy of developing the whole child.

“AISM is certainly a pathway to international excellence. Our students have successfully entered institutions in Australia, the UK, the US, Canada, Hong Kong, Korea, Taiwan, New Zealand, Malaysia, as well as many European countries,” says David Kilpatrick, the school’s principal. “In fact, one of our Year 12 students has received a full scholarship to study in the UK and will be applying to the University of Oxford.”

AISM recently hosted the inaugural meeting of the Principals of Australian International Schools from all over the world. The meeting was attended by principals from other eight countries — United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Bangladesh — who have become the Founding Members of the Australian International Schools Association (AISA). The forming of this association brings together more than 10,000 students who are studying the Australian curriculum throughout the world.

With the formation of AISA, the principals have formalised different means of collaboration between the Australian International Schools that will provide more diverse opportunities for their students to be involved in competition and collaborative events between the schools, explains Kilpatrick.

With the aim of providing the best of Australian education for all in Malaysia, AISM has also invested heavily in creating a truly 21st century, student-centred learning environment. Its recent major development and expansion project will accommodate classrooms and open learning spaces for the school’s Junior students (aged three to 10 years), extensive performing arts facilities (including a Black Box Theatre, instrument practice, orchestral and dance rooms), excellent ICT facilities, a science and technology centre, a new learning resource centre (library) and a dedicated space for Senior students in their final years of study (Year 11 and 12).

Source: New Straits Times (www.nst.com.my )

March 12, 2012

 

A renewed pride in the Australian flag seems to have bloomed as a new wave of patriotism sweeps the nation. Picture: Bob Barker

MIGRANT numbers have hit a two-year high, confirming that we are hurtling towards a “Big Australia”.

And more than 160 protection visas are being issued to asylum seekers each week as the Federal Government deals with rising numbers of arrivals by boat and air.

About 146,000 permanent settlers came to Australia in the past year, the most since 2010.

There were 14,210 arrivals in January alone – a 41-month high.

But the growth in population is much higher when the number of foreigners given permanent residency visas is taken into account.

Net overseas migration is about 184,000 a year and is expected to reach 204,000 by mid-2015, according to the latest Immigration Department forecasts.

The so-called Big Australia target of 36 million by 2050, disowned by PM Julia Gillard before the last election, is on track with annual net migration of 180,000 and above.

Monash University population expert Dr Bob Birrell said permanent immigration was at a very high level and temporary migration was increasing at an even higher rate.

“This is a sign of what’s in store for us given the Government’s policy settings,” he said.

Separate Immigration Department figures show 4260 asylum seekers were given protection visas in the second half of last year. This compares with 4818 visas for the whole of 2010-11.

About half of the successful visa applicants were from Afghanistan and Iran, while significant numbers also came from Iraq and Sri Lanka, according to the department’s latest Asylum Statistics Australia report.

Of those given visas in the second half of last year, 2845 were boat arrivals and 1412 sought asylum after arriving by air.

Adult boat arrivals are initially detained, but the Government’s policy is to release people while their refugee claims are assessed.

It has been reported the Government will start releasing 400 asylum seekers a month into the community after initially promising to release 100 a month.

The Opposition has branded Labor’s asylum seeker policy as “let them in and let them out”, but the Government says if the Coalition were truly concerned about boat arrivals it would pass the Malaysia solution legislation.

Source: Herald Sun March 07, 2012 by: John Masanauskas

March 9, 2012

 

THE Federal Government is likely to shift its focus for university funding to completions rather than enrolments in its response to a base funding review.

Tertiary Education Minister Chris Evans says the sector already knows he wants to make this shift.

He believes it will help keep quality high in the new era of demand-driven government funding for undergraduate places that began this year.

The Group of Eight, which represents Australia’s eight top research universities, has released a policy paper that says offering more places meant more students who were not well academically prepared would enter higher education.

There was clear evidence that students with lower entrance scores were more likely to drop out of university courses before finishing.

Senator Evans said the notion that opening up access would result in lower quality university education was insulting to universities and insulting to students.

But he agreed there would need to be more support for those students.

“We will have to put greater emphasis on transitional support for some of those students to focus on teaching and learning,” he said at a Universities Australia conference in Canberra on Wednesday.

“I’m looking to refocus funding on completions rather than just commencement to make sure the signals to the sector are strong that the purpose of these reforms is to produce graduates not to produce enrolments.

“If we take the right policy measures to support students we’ll get strong completion rates and we’ll get people who never otherwise would have had the chance going to university.”

The tight fiscal environment prevented him from promising more money for preparatory or transition courses.

But he said many universities already were doing good work in that area and he promised to give it priority in the coming year.

“We can grow and access equity without losing a strong focus on excellence,” Senator Evans said.

“These are not contradictory or mutually-exclusive goals.”

The Government released the independent base funding review in December. It will respond in the next couple of months.

Source:  AAP March 07, 2012

November 3, 2011

Norway, Australia and the Netherlands lead this year’s newly released Human Development Index (HDI) rankings, the annual United Nations measure of progress in human well-being, while the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Niger and Burundi are at the bottom.

 

The HDI, issued today by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), combines measures of life expectancy, literacy, school enrolment and gross domestic product (GDP) per capita. This year a record 187 countries and territories were measured – up from 169 last year.

 

Norway retained its top position from last year, ahead of Australia and then the Netherlands, while the United States, New Zealand, Canada, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Germany and Sweden comprise the remainder of the top 10 in that order.

 

But when the HDI is adjusted for economic inequality, Australia becomes number 1 in the world with 0.979 over 1, and New Zealand #2 with 0.978 and Norway # 3 with 0.975.

 

While Australia becomes number one,  standings of some countries fall significantly. The US falls from 4 to 23, the Republic of Korea (ROK) from 15 to 32, and Israel from 17 to 25.

 

In the case of the US and Israel, their positions are affected by income inequality, although health care is also an influencing factor for the US, while education gaps between generations are the main reason for the ROK’s ranking change.

 

In contrast, other countries’ standings improve after the HDI has been adjusted for inequality. Sweden jumps from 10 to five, Denmark from 16 to 12, and Slovenia rises from 21 to 14.

 

“The inequality-adjusted Human Development Index helps us assess better the levels of development for all segments of society, rather than for just the mythical ‘average’ person,” said Milorad Kovacevic, chief statistician for the Human Development Report that accompanies the index.

 

“We consider health and education distribution to be just as important in this equation as income, and the data show great inequities in many countries.”

 

The report, Sustainability and Equity: A Better Future for All, notes income distribution has worsened in most of the world and reveals Latin America has the largest income inequality, although it is more equitable than sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia in life expectancy and schooling.

 

The report also shows that countries at the bottom of the list still suffer from inadequate incomes, limited schooling opportunities and low expectancy rates due to preventable diseases such as malaria and AIDS.

 

The report stresses that a lot of the problems encountered by countries with low rankings are worsened by armed conflicts and its devastating consequences. In the DRC, the country with the lowest ranking, more than three million people died from warfare and conflict related illnesses.

 

Seven countries – the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the Marshall Islands, Monaco, Nauru, San Marino, Somalia and Tuvalu – were not included this year because of a lack of data.

 

UNDP today also released its related Gender Inequality Index, which puts various European countries at the forefront of gender equality. Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark and Switzerland head the rankings, followed by Finland, Norway and Germany.

 

That index takes into account indicators on reproductive health, schooling years, government representation and participation in the labour market. Yemen ranks as the least equitable, followed by Chad, Niger, Mali, the DRC and Afghanistan. In the case of Yemen, just 7.6 per cent of women have secondary education, 0.7 per cent of legislature seats are occupied by women and only 20 per cent of working-age women have paid jobs.

 

In addition, the report highlights regional differences which cause gender disparities. In sub-Saharan Africa, gender gaps arise in education and are worsened by high maternal mortality and adolescent fertility rates. In contrast, in South Asia, gender inequality is mainly due to women lagging behind men in parliamentary representation and labour force participation.

 

Source:

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=40290&Cr=human+development&Cr1=

October 13, 2011

IEAA can help your kids to study in Australian High School, then direct entry to University.

One of the option is TAYLOR College. Established in 1920, Taylors College provides world-class secondary school education (Year 10, 11 and 12) and specialised university preparation programs in partnership with leading universities in Australia and New Zealand.

At Taylors College, the unique learning environment allows students to fulfil their ambitions and to enjoy life at university and beyond. With campuses at central locations in Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland, Taylors College is known throughout the world for its success in preparing students for the rigours of tertiary study and providing the smoothest transition to help them achieve the career of their dreams.

English Language Preparation Program (TELP)

The Taylors English Language Preparation program, taught by experienced teachers and delivered in 12 week terms, will prepare you to study their High School or Foundation Programs in Australia or New Zealand.

High School Programs in Australia (Year 10, Year 11 and Year 12)

Taylors College High School program is the passport to the best universities in the world.

Taylors College delivers the final three years of Australian secondary education (Years 10, 11 and 12) for the following qualifications at Melbourne and Sydney campuses and Years10, 11at Perth campus

  • Victorian Certificate of Education (Victoria)
  • Tertiary Entrance Examination (TEE)
  • Higher School Certificate (NSW)

University Foundation program

Taylors College Foundation Programs are unique, dedicated pathways to some of the most prestigious universities in Australia and New Zealand. The Foundation programs are run exclusively at Taylors College campuses in Sydney, Perth and Auckland.

  • Taylors Auckland Foundation Year (TAFY)
  • The University of Sydney Foundation Program (USFP)
  • The University of Western Australia Foundation Program (UWAFP)

Partner Universities in Australia and New Zealand

  • University of Sydney, Sydney
  • Monash University, Melbourne
  • University of Western Australia, Perth
  • University of Auckland, Auckland
  • Auckland University of Technology (AUT), Auckland
  • Massey University, Auckland
for further information please write to sydney@inteducation.com
October 12, 2011
October 12, 2011

Seven Australian universities have secured places in a list of the top 200 higher education institutions in the world, according to the Times Higher Education world university rankings.

Heading the list is the University of Melbourne (37, down from 36 last year).

Big improvements were made by the University of Sydney (58, up from 71 last year) and the Australian National University (38, up from 43 last year).

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The University of Queensland continued its impressive rise in the international standing, reaching 74 from 81 last year.

The University of Adelaide (73 last year) has dropped from the list.

Monash University (117), the University of NSW (173) and the University of Western Australia (189) round out the list of Australian entrants.

Harvard was knocked from the top of the perch for the first time in eight years by the California Institute of Technology to now sit in equal second place with Stanford University.

Oxford, in fourth place, edged past Cambridge, which is sixth.

Arts, humanities and social sciences placed on an equal footing with science in the Times rankings, which are built on what the publication terms the four core missions of a modern global university: research, teaching, knowledge transfer and international activity.

The highest-ranking Asian university is the University of Tokyo in 30th place; China has only three universities in the top 200 list.

The Times list is one of the more authoritative rankings.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald  smh.com.au

September 28, 2011
September 28, 2011

 

UNIVERSITIES will be allowed to entice foreign students with quick visa approvals and the right to two years of work after graduation as part of a reform package to stem further losses of overseas student income.

 

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen and Tertiary Education Minister Chris Evans said yesterday they would act on a remarkably frank report on Australia’s education export industry by former NSW politician Michael Knight.

 

By mid next year, foreign students keen on an Australian university degree will have access to a new, fast-track visa system.

 

Students from supposedly high-risk countries, such as China, no longer will have to show $75,000-plus in a bank account to prove they can cover fees and living costs.

 

Regardless of where they are from, would-be students will simply have to make a declaration they can support themselves.

 

Onerous financial requirements have been bitterly criticised as an over-reaction to past failings when migration was the motor of education, especially in private colleges.

 

Under yesterday’s Knight reforms, which single out universities for special treatment, foreign graduates emerging with a bachelor’s degree will be entitled to two years of work with no restriction on the type of job.

 

But if they want to stay for good they still have to satisfy stricter rules for skilled migration, which are much less generous to on-shore foreign students with low value skills.

 

University leaders yesterday welcomed the liferaft thrown them by the government.

 

“The reforms announced are more positive than anyone we spoke to expected [and] they come when competitors are kicking own goals _ riots in the UK and US funding cuts,” said University of NSW vice-chancellor Fred Hilmer.

 

“We expect a moderate lift in 2012 and a significant lift in 2013.”

 

In New Delhi yesterday, Professor Hilmer said education agents had told him that a streamlined student visa system was “the key to restoring our competitive position”.

 

Violence against students and tighter rules for skilled migration drove Indian students away while the US and Canada were making inroads on the China market.

 

In 2010-11, Australia’s education export earnings fell by almost 10 per cent from their $18 billion peak. Sharp declines in numbers at English language colleges and tertiary preparation courses suggest that universities are heading into tough trading conditions next year.

 

The education export industry complains of “a perfect storm” _ meaning rapid and unsettling changes in visa rules and skilled migration policy, the strong dollar and more competition for students overseas, and lingering reputational damage done by attacks on Indian students.

 

Under the Knight reforms, broadly adopted by the government, students wanting to study for a bachelor’s or higher qualification at university will find it easier and quicker to get a visa, regardless what country they are from.

 

“Unfortunately the worst perceptions about visa processing times are in Australia’s biggest market, China,” Mr Knight said.

 

From next autumn, would-be university students would benefit from an end to the requirement that they show large amounts of money upfront as evidence of capacity to pay.

 

Also promised next year is a comprehensive review of the so-called risk assessment levels that immigration officials use to vet would-be students. This system makes it harder for students from China and India, for example, to get visas.

 

Mr Knight recommended a new work rights regime for foreign students who graduate from an Australian university.

 

He said this had to be “administratively very simple”.

 

“The scheme must be one which can be marketed by the universities to prospective students as almost guaranteeing post-study work rights,” he said.

 

Glenn Withers, chief executive of Universities Australia, said the work entitlement was “one of the biggest breakthroughs”.

 

“This [work right] is as good or better than the Canadian or the US provisions,” he said.

 

But Monash University researcher Bob Birrell said the labour market implications had not been thought through.

 

Locals already were competing with thousands of former overseas students who were on bridging visas following a reform of the skilled migration rules, he said.

 

Stephen Connelly, from the International Education Association Australia, welcomed the Knight reforms.

 

He praised the extension of the new streamlined visa rules to packages including university study with foundation programs or English language courses.

 

“Australia has world’s best practice in pathways and preparatory programs for university studies, and this aspect of the recommendations will help cement our competitive advantage in this area,” Mr Connelly said.

 

He urged rapid implementation of the reform package to try to reverse the downward trend in on-shore student numbers.

 

Mr Knight justified special measures to boost overseas student recruitment by universities, rather than by TAFEs or private colleges, on the basis that universities were of “universally high” quality.

 

He also cited the “huge financial stake” of taxpayers in a university sector that had become heavily dependent on fees paid by foreign students.

 

He expressed surprise at the degree of dependence, pointing out that in 2009, about 25 per cent of students at the elite group of eight universities were internationals.

 

Andrew Norton, higher education expert at the Grattan Institute, was troubled by the favouritism shown to universities.

 

“My concern is that this is a big blow to the private higher education sector and the TAFES … and that this will distort the market further,” he said.

 

He said public universities already enjoyed a privileged position in the demand-driven system starting next year.

 

Adrian McComb, from the Council of Private Higher Education, said the “university centric nature” of the Knight report was disappointing.

 

He said this ran counter to the unified system of regulation for higher education, public and private, under the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency.

 

Mr Knight said universities were “not perfect”.

 

He put universities on notice that they would be held accountable for systematic migration abuses by their students or for lower standards.

 

“The financial dependence which universities now have on the fees from international students could create pressure to soften entry standards and assessment standards,” he said.

 

He said his freeing up of student visas would be “quite dangerous” unless immigration officers put new effort into checking that applicants were genuine temporary visitors as well as genuine students.

 

However, Dr Birrell said the guidelines for this new student visa test were “so opaque that it’s almost impossible to apply. I cannot see how [an immigration] officer could possibly implement them.”

 

BY: BERNARD LANE From: The Australian September 23, 2011 12:00AM