AUSTRALIA’S RIP TIDES
ISSUE #19 | THE PIE REVIEW | 27
“We feel GTE has
subjective bias towards
some vocational education
and training qualifications
rather than as part of further study – as an area of concern.
“For independent ELICOS, which typically makes up 30
per cent of the market... the actual grant rate for a number
of our key source countries has declined since the imple-mentation
of SSVF,” he says.
Blacker tells The PIE Review it’s the visa’s Genuine Tem-porary
Entrant requirement creating a barrier. A subjective
measure, the GTE allows a Department of Home Affairs
officer to consider the value a student’s course will have
on their academic or professional future when processing
“Students studying English language may not be doing it
pegged to a particular career,” argues Blacker.
“There could be personal reasons… which don’t align to
the criterion of the GTE. We’re seeing rejections based on
some of these factors which just mean the criterion is not
designed for this type of student.”
Jen Bahen, who looks after international education for
public vocational peak body, TAFE Directors Australia,
says a similar issue is happening within the VET space.
“We feel the GTE requirement doesn’t support TAFE
recruitment overly well and we feel it has subjective bias
towards some vocational education and training qualifica-tions,”
Part of the issue, Bahen believes, is that many of the
visa officers have studied at a university level and there-fore
have a limited understanding of the VET sector as it
relates to progression of career. A problem, she adds, also
experienced in the wider industry.
NSW and Victoria powerhouses
These factors are contributing to the eastern states of New
South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland seeing most of the
growth – with two above the national average in 2017.
Since 2014, both New South Wales and Victoria (home to
Sydney and Melbourne) have strengthened their market share
to represent 69.8 per cent of international enrolments. Over
half of the remaining students are hosted by Queensland at
15.5 per cent.
There are other factors. The three eastern mainland states
have noticeable and robust state government backing, and all
states and territories have an international education strategy
or action plan except for Western Australia – although one is
That strategy can’t come soon enough. While the rest of
the country grew, Western Australia decreased its total enrol-ments
in 2017, albeit by only just over 1,000.
Other diversity concerns, such as a heavy reliance on China
as a source market, which represents 31.3 per cent of total
and 38.2 per cent of higher education enrolments, leave the
Highly publicised and sometimes incorrect reports
of tensions between Australia and China hide a more
“In geopolitical terms, we’re located in the Indo-Pacific
region... and that’s coming back to bite us,” says Honeywood.
“We can be seen as something of a patsy for the US and
Western democratic powers and therefore an easy target to
try and prove an example to others.”
PHOTO: STUDY GOLD COAST
Inconsistent growth is about more than just a gap bet-ween
the numbers of international students, says John
Paxton, director of Perth International College of English
in Western Australia. It’s about jobs too. “Teachers, admi-nistrators,
marketing people; there’s been a decline in in
WA over the last two, three, four years,” he says.
However, he adds, having fewer international students
creates a “ripple effect” outside institutions. Areas that
increase their number of students consequently increase
their share of the 130,000 jobs which students support.
“With the huge increase in international students co-ming
to Melbourne, you’ve got a proliferation of facilities
and infrastructure to cater for them. Accommodation,
transport, coffee shops, and people working there,” he
says. “The opposite is happening in Perth.”