The Australian government has released a 10-year plan for the development of its international education sector, initiating the expansion with the introduction of online courses.

The blueprint has been launched with the aim of making the nation a global leader in education, training and research.

Under the plan, the government has implemented three new strategies – the National Strategy for International Education 2025; the Australia Global Alumni Engagement Strategy and the Australian International Education 2025 (AIE2025) market development roadmap.

The National Strategy for International Education 2025 outlines three core goals:

  • Strengthening the foundations of the country’s entire education system to ensure quality assurance and the delivery of the best possible student experience;

  • Increasing the global network to link students, universities and governments to increase mobility and form lasting alumni connections; and

  • To become globally competitive by promoting Australia’s teaching and research excellence, and taking advantage of any opportunity for international growth, thus enhancing the nation’s brand.

The strategy states that as the third-most popular global study abroad destination for tertiary students, Australia must strive to “deliver and improve support services, affordable and convenient accommodation and public transport”, as well as “facilitate work opportunities”. Australia currently boasts one of the best post-study work climates, permitting international students to work part-time alongside their studies and apply for a working visa following graduation.

Senator Richard Colbeck, Minister for Tourism and International Education, has discussed the formation of a Council for International Education to oversee the strategy, with members including the Chief Executive of Universities Australia, Belinda Robinson, as well as the Chief Executive Officer of the International Education Association of Australia.

Over the four years it will take to put the strategy in place from 2016-17, the Australian government will spend an estimated AU$12 million (US$8.8 million.)

“The intent of this strategy is to ensure Australia remains a leader in the provision of education services to overseas students,” said Colbeck.

“Australia already has a well-deserved reputation for the quality of our education and research; however, to fully realise our potential we must be both strategic and ambitious.”

The market development roadmap also feeds into the government’s plan to expand international education, capitalising on the forecasted increase to one billion international students actively seeking higher education by 2025, predicted by a Deloitte Access Economics analysis.

The plan suggests that by 2025, university students will be more flexible, mobile and diverse when it comes to their careers, as digitisation continues to sweep global business and industry. The strategy notes that: “Australian institutions are already responding to these skills gaps by partnering with business to build specific learning pathways through online-based education.”

If executed effectively, Australia’s online courses could boost the current international student population of 500,000 to 720,000 by 2025.

On top of this, the Australia Global Alumni Engagement Strategy, which states that the 2.5 million international students have studied in the region over the past 50 years, combined with Australia’s current domestic cohort who are studying overseas, will form Australia’s ‘Global Alumni Community’.

These former students are the “current and future leaders, influencers and change-makers”, and this new, innovative strategy seeks to “unlock their full potential” by connecting them with each other, encouraging mobility and celebrating their global achievements.

“In order to achieve this, it is critical that we embrace the role as a driver of change,” said Senator Colbeck.

“We must be conscious of what our competitors are doing, particularly what they are doing better than us. It is vital we are honest about our shortcomings and proactive in addressing concerns when they arrive.”

Additional reporting by University World News.

Image via StockPhotoSecrets.

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