Next steps in ensuring the integrity and sustainability of the international education sector

THE HON JASON CLARE MP
MINISTER FOR EDUCATION

THE HON BRENDAN O’CONNOR MP
MINISTER FOR SKILLS AND TRAINING

THE HON CLARE O’NEIL MP
MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS
MINISTER FOR CYBER SECURITY

Next week the Albanese Government will introduce legislation to support the integrity and sustainability of the international education sector. 

The legislation will enable the Minister for Education to set an allocation for the maximum number of new international student enrolments education providers can offer.

For vocational education, these allocations will be set based on advice from the Minister for Skills and Training.

The legislation will also deliver important reforms to strengthen the integrity and quality of international education, including the power to:

  • Prevent education providers from owning education agent businesses.
  • Pause applications for registration from new international education providers and of new courses from existing providers for periods of up to 12 months.
  • Require new providers seeking registration to demonstrate a track record of quality education delivery to domestic students before they are allowed to recruit international students.
  • Cancel dormant provider registrations to prevent them being used as a market entry tool by unscrupulous actors.
  • Prevent providers under serious regulatory investigation from recruiting new international students.
  • Improve the sharing of data relating to education agents.

In addition, the Government will prohibit agent commissions on student transfers between providers in Australia to remove incentives for unscrupulous agents and providers to ‘poach’ students.

This is the next step in delivering on the objectives of the Government’s Migration Strategy and is informed by engagement with the international education sector.

The Government is also today releasing the draft International Education and Skills Strategic Framework. The draft Framework will support consultation with the sector on how to implement a system of sustainable, managed growth in international student enrolments.

The Framework will support the sustainability, quality and integrity of our world-class international education sector.

The Government will work with international education providers to limit the number of international students that can be enrolled over a particular period of time.

If If universities want to enrol international students above that limit, they will be required to establish additional, new supply of purpose-built student accommodation to benefit both international and domestic students and free up pressure on the rental market.

International students are an incredibly important part of our economy and our communities, and we need to ensure the sector is set up for the future.

Through the new Framework, the Albanese Government is taking an active role in supporting:

  • a sector built on quality and integrity
  • a managed system to deliver sustainable growth over time, and
  • Australian providers to take our high-quality education and training to the world.

The Framework will provide greater certainty for the sector, particularly Australia’s regional universities, and enable international education to better contribute to Australia’s skills needs.

The Government will consult with the sector on all aspects of the Framework over the coming months and release the final Framework later this year.

The draft Framework can be accessed here.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Education, Jason Clare:

“Our international education sector is incredibly important to our country.

“International students are back but so are the shonks seeking to take advantage of them.

“These reforms are designed to ensure the integrity, quality and ongoing sustainability of this vitally important sector. 

“The draft International Education and Skills Strategic Framework will lay the groundwork for an international education sector that is more sustainable and provides the highest quality education and student experience for all students.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Skills and Training, Brendan O’Connor:

“International education not only enhances Australia’s workforce and economy, but it contributes to our rich cultural diversity.

“We are focused on ensuring our VET sector is safe, welcoming and supportive for international students and this is the next step the Albanese Government is taking to strengthen integrity and sustainability in international education.

“Because there is no place for dodgy operators who undermine the strong reputation of the sector, we are making it tougher for bottom-feeders to take advantage of international students for a quick buck.

“Most providers do the right thing and are in education and training for the right reasons. They will benefit from a high quality and sustainable international education sector, and the Government’s efforts to crack down on non-genuine and unscrupulous actors who undermine integrity and trust in the sector.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Home Affairs, Clare O’Neil:

“International education is a huge national asset, but only when it’s working for the country.

“Last year, our Government adopted a strategy to deliver a smaller, more strategic migration system, and these announcements today take a big step toward that goal.

“With international student visa grants back to pre-pandemic levels, the focus now shifts to ensuring numbers in the sector are managed more strategically over the long-term.”