Thanks very much Peter, if only I’d received a reference like that from my principal when I was in high school.
It is really a pleasure to be here today and firstly can I also acknowledge the traditional owners of the land and pay my respects to their elders, past and present. To my parliamentary colleagues, Julie [Bishop], it’s wonderful to be here with you today and to all of our captive guests and heads of missions who are here enjoying this wonderful state. It’s terrific to be here with you and I can’t think of a better forum with so many international representatives here today to launch our International Education Strategy.
I think it’s not only as the Vice Chancellor has just said a university on campus where 43 per cent of the students are from international sources, but with our friends from the diplomatic corps it is I think really quite fitting that we have an opportunity to do this here today.
To my colleagues, Brett Whiteley from the seat of Braddon, my home patch and our host today, Andrew Nikolic from the seat of Bass – fantastic to see you here today and thank you for being here.
To our departmental heads and those of you who have done a lot of work in preparation of the two documents that we’re launching today, it’s wonderful to see you here today and thank you for being here.
Can I particularly thank the Vice Chancellor for hosting us here today, we appreciate your efforts in putting us up. I also want to welcome our coordinating council members who assisted with the development of the strategy in particular, and the chair of that Phil Honeywood, great to have you here Phil and thank you for your work. Sue Blundell is not here I don’t think, Belinda Robinson from Universities Australia, Kate Carnell, Bill Spur and Malcolm White.
This has been quite an undertaking and in my view, an important document, so I very, very much appreciate and express my gratitude to the work that’s been put together by the coordinating council in preparation of this document. This document is not just about what government can do in the international education space, it is about what Australia will do and that includes all the participants in the international education sector.
Largely, that work will be taking advice from the sector. Government obviously has its place to play but it is work that will largely be done by the sector.
It is quite exciting for me as Australia’s first ever Minister for International Education, to be launching Australia’s first ever International Education Strategy. It demonstrates the fact that our Prime Minister has had real vision in making that first every appointment, but also demonstrates the importance of international education to our economy but also to our culture. The Vice Chancellor has demonstrated some of the benefits of that just here on this campus.
The Strategy itself is about placing Australia in a strong and competitive position internationally in the sector that is clearly now a borderless and global sector.
I’ve seen on a number of occasions on international visits that I’ve done since coming into the portfolio, the value of international education. I said at the alumni function with Julie in Hobart earlier in the week for the New Colombo Plan, that it is a generational experience.
The number of people who I’ve met who’ve come to Australia under the initial Colombo Plan where in the 50s, 60s and 70s we actively brought people to Australia for an education that now hold senior offices in our region. They are now sending their children here, and that demonstrates that it is not just an experience for the person who comes but also for their communities and also a generational one.
Julie will talk later of our Global Alumni Strategy which is also being launched as a part of this process today. It demonstrates the work that we’ve done to tie all of the different elements in Australia’s approach to international education together. We see them coordinating our role and supporting our place in global education.
As the nation that sits at number 3 globally behind the United States and the UK in the international education space, we see the opportunity to continue to grow our place in this market. We are trusted for the high quality education that we offer, and we understand that we must do everything that we can to maintain that. That’s what brings in the key pillars and goals of our Strategy that we’re launching today.
So the first element of that is strengthening the fundamentals; as I said we are recognised as providing a high quality education and we need to make sure that we maintain that level and we build on it.
The goals under that first element are to build on our world-class education training, and research system, to deliver the best possible student experience. We know that is a key indicator for students, and that’s why we measure and focus on this.
To provide effective quality assurance and regulation; that is important in students understanding of the quality of the institution that they are going to choose. We know, particularly in the higher education sector how universities covert their rankings and they tell me every time they come to visit me how good they are, which is appropriate, but it’s an important part of student choice.
Making transformative partnerships; this is a very important part, I think, of the entire Strategy. It’s not just country to country, it’s not just institution to institution, it includes institution to business, it includes institution to individual, it includes people to people.
Fundamentally, as the Vice Chancellor quite correctly said in his presentation, one of the real values of international education is the building of people to people links and the better understandings by our individual countries and the strength of relationships that brings - a very important part of the strategy.
Then competing globally; as I said we are ranked number 3 in the world behind the United States and the UK and there are other nations who are out there in this space as well. We need to promote our excellence and that’s what we will do through AIE 2025 which has some very ambitious targets, but it’s important I think that we aim high.
Of course, embracing the opportunities to grow international education; and that’s the point of the exercise. We have at the moment about 500,000 students studying here in this country, 220,000 or so of those at tertiary level, 130,000 studying in the vocational area, 110,000 studying English and about 40,000 in school and non-award courses.
One thing the strategy does recognise is the rapidly changing face of education and I think it’s important that we actually acknowledge that its boarderless, there are new mechanisms for delivery, the Vice Chancellor very often tells me how good his MOOC is, that’s massive open online course for those who haven’t heard the acronym before.
The face of education is changing very quickly and we need to be taking the opportunities to participate in that - that’s the intention of the Strategy.
When you experience the excitement of students who have had the opportunity and we saw that at the alumni ceremony in Hobart with Emily Forsyth the other day. So, featured within the strategy document is a student who I met in China a couple of weeks ago, who provided a presentation about her experience here in Australia and described Australia in her experience as colourful, wonderful, amazing and life treasuring. You can read some of her words in the front pages of the strategy document.
So in the context of AIE 2025, the Australian International Education Strategy 2025, that’s the marketing document that sits alongside our national strategy and it gives some more detail on our approach to the market.
The work that Austrade have been doing in promoting Australia in the international education space I can only commend. I saw it myself just a few weeks ago at Australia Week in China and the interest from the Chinese side in talking to Australian institutions, the 80 of them with us in China, was very encouraging and shows what the opportunities might be.
For those who might not understand the scale of what we’re looking at, I was in Indonesia just before Christmas and they have 2.5 million students qualified to certificate level and vocational training.
They wanted 10 million students by 2019. So they have to quadruple the number of students they have qualified to certificate level in 4 years - that’s a huge task. In India, 500 million students we see looking for a vocational education.
So this is not just about tertiary, it’s not just about vocation, it’s also about online, and it’s about encompassing all the different options for an education experience.
Of course the other element of this will be our council for international education, that council will continue on from the work that the coordinating council has done in the past and we will be announcing those who are participating in that in a few weeks. They will have the responsibility of driving the outcomes of this strategy with government and the sector. So, a very important role.
As Australia’s very first minister for International Education, I am absolutely delighted to be able to present Australia’s first ever International Strategy for International Education and the accompany market development roadmap.
As I’ve indicated, the task in educating our communities in this global environment and particularly in Australia’s regions is absolutely huge. In my view, it’s our responsibility to step up and play our role in delivering the services, bringing our countries closer together and importantly providing a quality education for the people of Australia, our region and further afield.
Thank you all for being here. Thank you.
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