How to Effectively Market and Manage Quality Australian International Education Article

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'How to Effectively Market and Manage Quality Australian International


A primary focus for the nearly half a million international students choosing to study in Australia each year seems to be on obtaining a higher education; oftentimes it is because they believe it is an investment in their own future. For the vast majority of these international students the hope is that their education will lead to improved employment opportunities and a higher quality lifestyle, either in Australia, another country, or after they return to their homeland. Interestingly enough, almost half of the surveyed higher education graduates and two thirds of VET graduates were living in Australia, with most either already having been granted permanent residency or hoping to obtain permanent residency status.

Graduates who were working in Australia had a slightly higher level of unemployment than those who returned home, although most were working or undertaking further study. The majority of graduates who were working were doing so in an occupation in the same field they had studied or in a related field, and most of these graduates reported a high level of satisfaction with their job. Graduates working overseas were even more likely to be working in a job related to their qualifications, and reported higher levels of satisfaction than graduates working in Australia. For graduates who were unemployed and looking for work, the most common perceived barriers to finding work were a lack of work experience, not having permanent residency, and a lack of jobs in the graduate's field of study.

Many of these students have traveled to Australia with the dream of participating in Australia's higher educational system and educating these students is deemed as a revenue enhancer for many of the universities and schools that cater to them. International education is Australia's third biggest income earner and Victoria's biggest income earner. However, there are currently a number of changes taking place in the policies that govern how education is provided both to Australia's home students and to international students. The system is seeking continuous improvements and it seems as if the willingness to grow and embrace these changes is paramount to success at this particular juncture.

In developing a quality education program, it is important to look at: prevention of errors rather than correction, identification and elimination of waste, identifying the need to improve inputs, focus on improvement at every step in the process, productivity improvement as a result of quality improvement, understanding of variation and inconsistency, importance of small step improvements, involvement of all academic staff and empowerment of staff and employee participation in the process of improvement of quality education.

It is also extremely important that the marketing of these improvements and qualities is accomplished in a professional, efficient and cost effective manner. One method for doing so is by ensuring that the customer (student) is not only aware of the various improvements and enhancements but those qualities are what the students are actually looking for in a quality educational system. Student feedback is one of the best forms of information we could get when looking for improvements to services and products.

In a nut shell, Australian international education system comprises the following sectors:

. Primary and Secondary Education

. English ELICOS

. Vocational Education Programs

. Higher Education Programs

Important Statistical Data for future Planning:

According to DIAC findings, student visa applications fell by 18.9% between 2008-09 and 2009-10. The decline in student visa applications has coincided with the global financial crisis; escalated concerns about the welfare of international students studying in Australia; the rising value of the Australian dollar; and the introduction of a range of changes to visa processing to improve the integrity of the student visa program. Another concern is that the ongoing college closures are creating uncertainty about the stability of Australian education providers;

There have also been changes to the skilled migration program which have effectively decoupled the student visa program from permanent residence. In 2009-10 the top five source countries for international students (based on visas granted) were the People's Republic of China, India, South Korea, Thailand and Brazil, in that order. A total of 270,499 student visas were granted in 2009-10; of the visas that were granted, 45.8% were to nationals from the top five source countries: There were 382,716 student visa holders in Australia on 30 June 2010. This compares with only 209,169 student visa holders in the country on 30 June 2006. 52.2% of student visa holders in Australia on 30 June 2010 held a higher education (subclass 573) visa.

41.8% of student visa holders in Australia on 30 June 2010 were Indian or Chinese citizens. The grant rate for offshore student primary applications for the three-month period between 1 October 2010 and 31 December 2010 increased to 91.5% as compared to the previous four periods. The grant rate for onshore student primary applications remained consistently higher than offshore grant rates. The grant rate for offshore international students from India for the three-month period between 1 October 2010 and 31 December 2010 was 43.1% and for onshore applications it was 89.6%.

At the end of December 2010 there were 291,204 international student visa holders in Australia. 83.5% of student visa holders in Australia at the end of December 2010 were primary visa holders.

The time required to process visa applications depends on a number of factors including; whether the applicant is on or offshore, the assessment level applicable to the applicant and the supporting evidence provided by the applicant. Applications that are complete are generally processed faster than incomplete applications. Where applications are incomplete processing officers may request additional material from applicants. Student visa applications can also be accessed via the internet which is quick, easy and guarantees priority processing.

During the three-month period from 1 October 2010 to 31 December 2010 the processing times for offshore applications improved compared to the previous four periods. During the same period the processing times for onshore applicants increased as compared to the previous three periods. Offshore student applications receive priority to give students lead time to organise travel and other arrangements related to their study in Australia.

International students must have a valid visa for the duration of their studies in Australia.

There are eight types of student visa:

1. English Language Intensive Course for Overseas Students (ELICOS)

(subclass 570) visa. This visa is for international students undertaking a stand-alone English language course that leads to a certificate level award or non-formal award.

2. Schools (subclass 571) visa. This visa is designed for international students applying to study in Australia in a primary, junior secondary or senior secondary school course or an approved secondary school exchange program.

3. Vocational Education and Training (subclass 572) visa. This visa is designed for international students applying to study in Australia and whose main course of study is a certificate, vocational education and training diploma, vocational education and training advanced diploma, vocational graduate certificate or vocational graduate diploma.

4. Higher Education (subclass 573) visa. This visa is designed for international students applying to study in Australia and whose main course of study is a bachelor degree, associate degree, higher education diploma, higher education advanced diploma, graduate certificate, graduate diploma or Masters by coursework.

5. Postgraduate Research (subclass 574) visa. This visa is designed for international students who want to study a Masters degree by research or a Doctoral degree in Australia.

6. Non-Award (subclass 575) visa. This visa is designed for international students who want to study non-award foundation studies or other full-time courses not leading to an Australian award.

7. AusAID or Defence (subclass 576) visas. This visa is designed for international students who are sponsored by AusAID or Defence to study a full-time course of any type in Australia.

8. Student Guardian (subclass 580) visas. This visa is designed for a parent or close relative to accompany an underage student to Australia.

To be eligible for a student visa, applicants must be accepted for full-time study in a course listed on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS). Applicants must also meet financial, health insurance, English language proficiency and health and character requirements. There is no limit on the number of student visas issued each year. If applicants meet requirements, they will be granted a student visa. Student visas are issued for the entire period of study in Australia, as evidenced by the Confirmation of Enrolment documentation provided by the applicant's education provider. Visas are issued in alignment with the period for which the applicant has Overseas Student Health Cover.

Government Policy:

Quality Education, Employment Driven Education and Skill Migration

Pathway Programs.

The Federal Government is trying to implement a quality driven education system

and as a result has recently come up with changes into Re-registration of RTO's and DIAC skill migration pathways. These new Victorian Registration Qualifications Authority (VRQA) guidelines cover 6 key areas critical to "clearly demonstrated capacity to deliver education": financial & management capacity, governance & reporting, quality &…

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