Australia suggests cap-like limit on enrolments in latest salvo

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Australia’s minister of education will have the power to set a limit for maximum number of new international student enrolments at any institution, the government has suggested as it heralds new legislation becoming law this week.

The departments of home affairs, education and skills & training jointly explained that along with incoming legislation, a limit on enrolments per institution is being suggested as part of a new international education and skills strategic framework.

The aim of the legislation and draft framework is to ensure “there is no place for dodgy operators”, as Brendan O’Connor, minister for skills and training, put it.

The government will consult with the sector on all aspects of the framework and release a final version later this year.

In impending legislation, any institutions under serious regulatory investigation will be prevented from recruiting new students, while new providers seeking registration will need to demonstrate a track record in teaching domestic students before getting approval to teach internationals.

The new rules are aimed at the vocational college space. O’Connor said, “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.”

A summary of the incoming restrictions to businesses:

Ability to limit new international enrolments
Prevent education providers owning colleges
Pause all new applications to be regulated for 12 months
Cancel dormant provider registrations
Prevent any business under investigation from continuing to recruit
Prove quality delivery for domestic first in cases of new registrations
Prohibit agent commissions on student transfers to colleges while onshore

This last new rule was part of plans already announced in October last year when Clare O’Neal pledged that “rorts and loopholes that have plagued this system will be shut down”.

The ongoing focus on “bottom feeders” – as well as the well documented slowdown in visa issuance as the government seeks to control before and after a student is applying to come to Australia – are all part of the drive to deliver on quality and integrity.

The draft international education and skills strategic framework will see stakeholders picking through recommendations.

Limiting enrolments per institution is not dissimilar to the move Canada has made this year with provincial allocation letters capped per institution controlling their ability to make offers to international applicants.

Interestingly it is being suggested that if universities want to enrol international students above a particular 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.

Education minister Jason Clare commented, “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.”

The post Australia suggests cap-like limit on enrolments in latest salvo appeared first on The PIE News.

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