Tertiary education policy

Research Training Programs at Australian Universities Warrant Review: Overseas Research Students Completion Performances are Superior to Domestic Students

Professor Emeritus Frank Larkins, The University of Melbourne (2018)

Australian Universities funding from government for research training programs is performance-based with timely completions a very important determinant as to the amount of money received. Overseas research students have proven to be a better investment for universities in terms of financial returns from government because their completion rates are superior to those for domestic students. Growth in the recruitment of overseas research students has far exceeded the growth in domestic students. One outcome of the research training program is that Australian universities are now graduating more overseas information technologists, engineers, agricultural and environmental scientists with research training than Australian students. An adverse outcome of concern is that there were fewer Australian male research graduates in information technology, architecture and building and agriculture and the environment in 2017 than a decade earlier. These imbalances may have longer term consequences for Australia’s economic competitiveness in a technologically-oriented digital world. Female research students also do have superior completion performances to their male counterparts. A review of research training recruitment practices in our universities, including the countries of origin for students, is warranted to establish if the national interest is being adequately served.

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International Student Enrolments in Australia by Sector in Comparison to Higher Education

Professor Emeritus Frank P. Larkins, The University of Melbourne (2018)

The growth in international students enrolling at Australian educational institutions has been a major success story, especially since 2012. From 2002 to 2017 VET has expanded 4.9 times, higher education 2.8 times, ELICOS 2.7 times, non-award 2.1 times with schools only 1.1 times. Overall growth at 2.9 times presents challenges and risks. In 2017 44% of the international students were in higher education, 27% in VET, 19.4% in ELICOS, 6.3% non-award with only 3.2% in schools.

Eight of the twenty nationalities that provided at least one percent of student enrolments in 2017 had a lower proportion of the annual cohort in 2017 compared with 2002. They are all strategically located in our region, - Malaysia, South Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore. Four of these nationalities – Indonesia, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore – actually had fewer students enrolled in Australian educational institutions in 2017 compared with 2002. The narrowing of the demographic diversity of provider nations should be of national concern. The outcome does have significant implications for the strength of Australia’s engagement with our regional neighbours.

New entries into the top 20 student provider nations in 2017 were Nepal, Columbia, Pakistan, Philippines, Italy and Spain displacing the 2002 ranked nations Norway, Bangladesh, United Kingdom, Sweden, Germany and Czech Republic. Five of the six displaced nations were from Europe for a net loss of three. This changed demographic distribution does highlight Australia’s student recruitment reorientation to Asia and the Middle East away from Europe.

At an earlier time, originating with the Colombo Plan, the Federal Government did have a proactive role in sponsoring students from underrepresented strategically important countries in the region. It is timely to again consider such a sponsorship initiative in the context of a broader national discussion for the management of economic, social and political risks associated with demographically unregulated international student enrolments

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Narrowing Diversity of International Students Attending Australian Universities Can Compromise Educational Experiences and Regional Engagement

Professor Emeritus Frank P. Larkins, The University of Melbourne. (2018)

Australian Universities are enrolling international students in record numbers. This trend is likely to accelerate now that the domestic demand-driven undergraduate enrolment policy has been effectively capped.  In 2017 some 53.7% of all international student enrolees were from China or India, compared with only 21.7% in 2002. Of the 28 nationalities with more than 1000 enrolees in Australian higher education in 2017, seven nationalities had fewer students enrolled than 25 years ago. They included some of our most important strategic Asian partners – Indonesia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Japan – as well as the United Kingdom. Furthermore, some 18 of the top 28 nationalities now represent a smaller proportion of the international student higher education cohort studying in Australia than in 2002. This is because of the dominance of Chinese and Indian nationals and improved educational opportunities at home. A national policy discussion on the impact of unregulated international student enrolments and the corresponding narrowing demographic diversity profile is warranted. The financial vulnerability of the higher education system and the impact on the quality of the academic experience for all students are important considerations. Australia’s higher education profile is significantly misaligned internationally, because of the higher proportion of international students enrolled, compared with United Kingdom, United States of America and New Zealand. It is timely for educators to focus on the national implications of these developments. There are also strategic regional engagement issues to be considered by government.

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Internationalization, Deregulation and the Expansion of Higher Education in Korea

Christopher Green (2015)

The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of internationalization policies in Korean higher education since 1993. Deregulation was a key strategy of Korean governments, but this strategy has led to an increasing oversupply of enrolment capacity. In response, the current government is implementing a system of reregulation to reduce the number of institutions and control admission quotas. Although cross-national comparisons put Korea’s schooling system among the world’s highest performing, deep structural and cultural challenges exist in higher education. The article recommends that future policy development and implementation should focus on three broad areas: 1) strengthening quality assurance; 2) increasing engagement with international bodies and networks; and 3) enforcing regulatory compliance.

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Profiling diversity of Australian universities

Hamish Coates, Daniel Edwards, Leo Goedegebuure, Marian Thakur, Eva van der Brugge, Frans van Vught (2013)

There is a good deal of consensus that institutional diversity in higher education is a good thing. Simply put, systems with more diverse institutions perform better than systems with less diverse institutions. Yet the overall diversity of Australia’s higher education system remains unclear. Significant questions and opportunities remain unresolved. How diverse are Australia’s institutions today? How can stakeholders— particularly institutions and policymakers—understand and manage this diversity?

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Tertiary education policy in Australia

Simon Marginson (2013)

While Australia is a relatively high private investor, we are now seeing cuts to public funding without increases in private funding. The international student market, which provides almost one university dollar in every five, has been in the doldrums since 2009. Whether international student income rises or falls, gone are the days when international students could be cranked up by 10-15 per cent to fill the gap in public funding. The Opposition implies a worse outcome, as its reading of the fiscal position is likely to result in large-scale spending reductions in many areas, including higher education.

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Rational deregulation of university fees

Vin Massaro (2014)

The confusion in people’s minds about what the government is trying to achieve with its higher education reforms and the impact they might have is neatly encapsulated by this conundrum.

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