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Australia’s first strategy for international education: lacking vision or precision?

Australia, already one of the largest higher education exporters, seems set to further strengthen and expand its position in the global field. The recently launched Australia’s first National Strategy for International Education 2025, complemented by the Australian International Education 2025 (AIE2025) market development roadmap and the Australia Global Alumni Engagement Strategy, is the result of a broad stakeholder consultation of 2015 and represents a ten-year plan aimed at making Australia’s international education more innovative, adaptive and globally competitive.

The National Strategy alone is based on three pillars that focus on:

  • better student services, teaching and research excellence, and quality assurance,
  • mobility and stronger partnerships at home and abroad, and
  • global competitiveness based on the promotion of excellence and the use of available opportunities for growth vis-à-vis international education, such as new technologies, markets, areas of teaching and research, to name but a few mentioned in the document.

The two supporting documents point to the acknowledgement of the importance of alumni as ambassadors of the country’s education as well as to a market-driven policy approach to higher education placement or its further consolidation in a number of targeted regions in Asia, particularly India and China. Apart from the stakeholder consultation, the AIE2025 market development roadmap relies on the projections from a report by Deloitte Access Economics, Growth and Opportunity in Australian International Education, according to which Australia’s onshore enrolments will grow by around 45% by 2025, accounting for some 720 000 foreign students enrolled in Australian institutions by then. In light of these prospects and with a view to other modes of delivery through the opportunities offered by new technologies, the roadmap envisions a 10% of the global education market share belonging to Australia by 2025.

Received with mixed feelings, the strategy indeed seems to fall short of specific, thought-through targets apart from a figure here and there, and very general, market-oriented discourse. Whether this signifies the breadth or lack of vision is yet to be seen.

National Strategy for International Education 2025
Australia Global Alumni Engagement Strategy 
Australian International Education market development roadmap