How student migration could be improving educational targets

Date: Dec 12, 2011

The Australian government has recently released a number of papers on the developments of future university-level education targets for public discussions.

According to the minister for tertiary education Chris Evans, these documents seek to gain useful input from key stakeholders on the type of information to be provided through the MyUniversity website to both local and international students.

"The papers consider the effectiveness of the new instruments, their ability to operate together coherently to obtain a comprehensive view of student experience and the quality of learning outcomes," said Evans.

This initiative was put in place on the advice from the International Education Advisory Council (IEAC) formed back in August 2011 to provide the official bodies with advice on a number of key areas relating to student outcomes.

Chaired by Michael Chaney, the IEAC is also responsible for providing insight into long-term strategies used by the government to bolster tertiary institutions.

It was on the advice of the council that the government began rewarding universities for supplying higher education to key demographics rather than using a subjective student survey.

In its place, the government has set a target for 2025 which will see 40 per cent of people between the ages of 25 and 34 years in possession of a bachelor degree.

Evan's previously said that the government was well on track to reach this goal - recording an attainment rate of 35 per cent in 2011.

One of the key factors in this development has been the increased patronage of international students, according to senior research fellow at the Australian Council for Educational Research Dr Daniel Edwards - who said that universities are reaching their targets thanks to recent changes in immigration policies.

It is a common practice for large organisation to use lawyers in immigration to assist them in preparing documentation to facilitate the transfer of foreign nationals.

Edwards said that the 35 per cent participation rate enjoyed by many institutions was including both domestic and international students.

He claimed that attainment rates for domestic students had remained somewhere between 23 per cent and 26 per cent.

"The different trajectories of these two trends suggests it is not Australian government education policy that has fuelled the growth in attainment over the past decade ... [it is] more likely to be a result of migration policy," Edwards told The Australian on December 8.

This highlights the need for tertiary institutions to be sure that they offer the best possible services - perhaps prompting them to consult with an immigration lawyer to review their visa offerings.