23/10/2018 - 15:37

Uni VCs skip education strategy launch

23/10/2018 - 15:37

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Premier Mark McGowan and StudyPerth chair Rod Jones this morning launched a new strategy to attract international students to Western Australia, with Mr Jones throwing out a challenge to the sector to turn the strategy into action.

Rod Jones says the international education sector needs to work together.

Premier Mark McGowan and StudyPerth chair Rod Jones this morning launched a new strategy to attract international students to Western Australia, with Mr Jones throwing out a challenge to the sector to turn the strategy into action.

WA’s share of international students has fallen sharply in recent years, with the premier saying a minimum goal should be a return to the state’s per capita share.

That would lift WA's national market share from about 7 per cent currently to at least 11 per cent.

The government has committed $2 million over five years to support implementation of the strategy and has emphasised the sector as a whole needs to commit.

In a similar vein, Mr Jones said the sector needed to work together.

“As a state we have gone backwards,” he said.

“The strategy establishes a shared direction framework for future action, and I think they key word there is action.

“It’s the responsibility of many people in this room who represent the international education community in Western Australia, to convert this strategy into action.”

Mr Jones, who established global education services business Navitas, agreed that the sector has not received due recognition over a number of years.

“This has led, as the premier said, to the state falling well behind the rest of Australia.

“It’s therefore gratifying, as chairman of Study Perth, to see the change in attitude across all key stakeholders, which has led to a willingness to work together.”

WA’s universities have previously been criticised for running their own race rather than working together on international marketing.

Judging by attendance at the launch this morning, they are still lukewarm.

The vice-chancellors of Perth’s five universities were all invited but none attended the launch; those contacted by Business News said they had other commitments.

Four of the five universities sent their deputy vice-chancellors with responsibility for international education.

Opposition leader Mike Nahan said the strategy lacked funding and vision, with the government doing too little too late.

“The strategy is a $2 million plan for a plan,” he said.

“It lacks detail and has no specific policy commitments that will translate into more students coming to WA to study.”

WA currently has about 50,000 international students with the sector generating about $1.9 billion in export income.

It has been estimated the sector supports 10,000 full-time jobs, and that each international student attracts 1.5 visiting friends and relatives from overseas.

The strategy is built around three themes – Perth as a place to live, learn and launch a career.

Mr Jones said the board of Study Perth was expected to approve a detailed action plan next month, to convert the strategy into a series of commitments, check lists and initiatives

One of the priorities will be a multi-year destination marketing campaign to raise awareness of Perth as an international study destination.

“Internationally, Perth is not well known,” Mr Jones said.

In this regard. a pilot project targeting China is currently being developed.

A second key priority was to improve employment outcomes, which Mr Jones said was a critical driver of student decision making.

This area encompassed opportunities across graduate employment, work experience, part-time work, internships, mentoring and work-ready skills.

Mr McGowan said increasing the numbers of international students studying in WA was a priority of his government.

“More international students will help boost the local economy, create jobs and add to the social and cultural vibrancy of our city,” he said.

“Our new strategy sends a message to the world we are open for business as a world-class international education destination.

“Government and industry are now working together on a range of actions - guided by the strategy - to put Perth on the map as an education destination.”

Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery said encouraging international students to choose WA as an education destination was central to helping boost the economy and create jobs.

“We have excellent education institutions, including five world-class universities in one of the most liveable cities in the world and a long, proud tradition in supporting international students in a safe, vibrant and beautiful environment,” she said.

Tourism Minister Paul Papalia said the government was working hard to secure direct flights and increase capacity from some of our key international student and tourist markets such as India, China, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. 

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