Wednesday, 19 December 2012

International Education the Australian Way

Guest blog by Dorothy Davis and Bruce Mackintosh

While the UK, Europe and the US have been the traditional destinations for students from less developed countries, in the last quarter century Australia has become the preferred destination for many, with the third highest number of international students in the English-speaking world.  Despite concerns about massification, commercialisation and the possible consequent decline in standards, it has achieved this position through a combination of smart marketing, high educational standards and a reputation for a safe and welcoming environment for students.

A new book “Making a Difference – Australian International Education” which we have edited and is published by the UNSW Press, reveals all of the history, process and outcomes of the highly successful Australian approach.  It begins with the multiple benefits of international education to students, institutions and communities, and concludes with a look to the horizon of 2025, including the influence of the growth in open/learning/distance education, now heightened by the development of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

It includes a detailed account of the history of international education in Australia, from the enrolment of private international students in the early part of the 19th century, through the significant Colombo Plan scholarship scheme of the 50s and 60s; this cemented the place of Australia in educating the brightest students from Asia and laid the foundations for the expanded, “aid through trade”, phase of international education after the Australian Government moved to allow institutions to enroll full-fee paying students as is done in the UK.  It critically analyses the role of government throughout the century or so of international student enrolments, including the vexatious issues of visas, migration and work rights.  The Australian way of marketing is described for all to see, and the role of private-public partnerships in international education is described using the highly successful Navitas, Australian based but now globally active. 

The supporting roles of off-shore programs, English language schools, English language testing, student welfare organisations, community initiatives, professionalisation and research are all covered in detail.  And the student outcomes are not overlooked with their stories interspersed throughout the book.  There is a tribute to Tony Adams, one of the most important figures in the 25 years of the development of the fee-paying program.  Fittingly the profits from sales of this book will go to the Tony Adams Fund to support professional development, research and student mobility.

This is a book for anyone who wants to understand how Australian institutions so successfully developed an effective system of international education, and how the lessons learned in that process can be applied in countries and educational institutions seeking their own success in this enterprise.

The book contains contributions from many leading policy makers and practitioners in international education and was supported by the International Education Association of Australia (IEAA) and many organizations including Australian Government departments and agencies, state governments, all 39 Australian universities, institutions from other sectors, peak bodies and education-related organizations.

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