March 8, 2013

 

Nearly three-quarters of Australians believe international students should be encouraged to stay in the country after completing their university studies, according to a survey.

Universities Australia has released research on perceptions of the tertiary sector on the eve of this week’s higher education conference in Canberra.

About 80 per cent of 300 business representatives surveyed and 72 per cent of 1000 members of the public said international students should be encouraged to stay in Australia on completion of their studies, particularly if sponsored by an employer.

”However, some stakeholder respondents have voiced concerns that the university system is perceived to be too heavily reliant on income from international student enrolments,” the report said.

”There is also a view that additional support, for instance with English language learning and better facilities such as affordable student housing, may be required.

”Participants were generally comfortable about the proportion of internationally students, at roughly 20 per cent.”

The study found Australian universities were generally well regarded, with 88 per cent of the surveyed public saying they would encourage their child or young people they knew to attend university.

Most saw the main role of universities to educate for skilled/professional jobs, with far fewer identifying the sector’s contribution to research and development – something Universities Australia described as being of ”some concern”.

Universities Australia chief executive Belinda Robinson said the study showed that people strongly valued international students, who helped build deep cultural ties with their fellow students and the wider community.

”International students are also playing a pivotal role in increasing our engagement with Asian nations during this Asian Century,” she said.

”They are helping Australia forge valuable links with their home countries, providing a cross-cultural dialogue with domestic students and sustaining ongoing relationships with Australia in their post-student lives.”

A spokesman for Universities Australia said the polling involved qualitative and quantitative research, including focus groups and surveys of the public and business.

He said the data was weighted to be representative of the Australian population and the whole business community.

The higher education conference, running from Wednesday to Friday, will include keynote speeches by new Tertiary Education Minister Chris Bowen, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, Universities Australia chairman Glyn Davis, and former Treasury secretary Ken Henry.

 

By Daniel Hurst Feb. 26, 2013

Source: NewCastle Herald

March 23, 2012

 

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen MP, today announced key changes to the student visa program recommended by the Knight Review will commence from 24 March, as part of the government’s commitment to position Australia as a preferred study destination for international students.

‘International education plays a vital role in a growing economy, educational outcomes and Australia’s diplomatic engagement with other countries, so it’s important that we give it the best possible support,’ Mr Bowen said.

‘From 24 March, we are implementing streamlined visa processing arrangements for prospective students enrolled in Bachelor, Masters or Doctoral degrees at participating universities, making the application process simpler and faster.’

In recognition of these institutions’ track record, university students — regardless of their country of origin — will be treated as though they are lower risk and will need to submit less evidence in support of their visa application, similar to the current assessment level (AL) 1.

‘Universities in Australia have embraced the opportunity to sign up to the arrangements, which are expected to help boost international enrolments for semester two 2012 and beyond,’ Mr Bowen said.

From 26 March, the government will provide more flexible work conditions for all student visa holders, which will also provide more flexibility for their employers.

In recognition of the importance of the higher degree by research sector, the government will also allow postgraduate research (subclass 574) visa holders to work an unlimited amount of hours per week once their course has commenced, which will mean they can engage in employment related to their research.

Other Knight Review changes to be implemented from 24 March include:

Improved access to English language study for schools sector visa applicants and for student guardian visa holders

Removal of the requirement for higher risk schools sector visa applicants to provide evidence of an English language proficiency test.

In line with the Knight Review recommendations, the minister today introduced legislation to Parliament to abolish the automatic visa cancellation process for international students.

The Student Legislation Amendment (Student Visas) Bill will reduce complexity and uncertainty for students and provide for fairer, more efficient monitoring and compliance processes.

 

Thursday, 22 March 2012

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

October 13, 2011

 

Students at Australia’s universities will have access to better quality services and amenities when they return to campus next year, following the passage of the Higher Education Support Amendment (Student Services and Amenities) Bill.

Minister for Tertiary Education, Senator Chris Evans said the Bill signalled a long overdue boost for student services, and a big win for regional universities which have been among the strongest advocates for change.

“This legislation will assist universities in rebuilding vital student services and amenities to ensure that they can support their growing student populations,” Senator Evans said.

“From next year, countless campus services which were stripped of funding under the former Coalition Government will start to be rebuilt.

“Students will benefit from improved access to a range of campus services, including sporting and recreational activities, employment and career advice, child care, financial advice and food services.

“The Coalition’s neglect of student services hit regional campuses particularly hard, with many student facilities at regional campuses forced to close down.”

A key feature of the new arrangements is that students can benefit from better student services while they are at university but defer payment of the fee through the HECS system until they are earning a decent income.

“Students have a clear interest in how their fees are being spent. Universities will be required to consult with students on the specific uses of the proceeds from any services and amenities fees,” Senator Evans said.

Under the new legislation, higher education institutions can charge a fee of up to $263 per student in 2012. No student will be forced to join any student organisation and the Bill expressly prohibits fee revenue being used to support a political party.

The student services and amenities fee will provide universities with more than $250 million over four years for much needed student amenities and services.

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