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Migration Strategy Reckless in its Approach to the International Skills Training Sector

Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA) Media Release

The Australian Government’s approach to the international skills training sector set out in the new Migration Strategy is highly problematic, based on broad and often inaccurate generalisations about quality, and data from a broken visa processing system. That is the view of the Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA), the peak body representing independent providers in the skills training, higher education, and international education sectors.

“The language in the Migration Strategy is reckless and ignores the high-quality skills training outcomes that the majority of international students in Australia receive,” said Troy Williams, ITECA Chief Executive.

ITECA welcomes measures to strengthen the integrity and quality of international education. In committing to working with the Australian Government on initiatives in this area, ITECA is anxious to ensure that there is no massive overcorrection that adversely impacts the entire international skills training sector while dealing with the undesirable approach of a small number of providers.

“It’s in this context that ITECA believes the language in the Migration Strategy concerning quality in the international skills training sector is unhelpful and paints an inaccurate picture of the sector as a whole. There is a real risk that it will diminish Australia’s reputation as a high-quality provider of skills training to international students,” Mr. Williams said.

ITECA notes that growth in the international skills training sector has been principally driven by the reputation for quality that independent skills training providers have, as evidenced by the following data from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER):

NCVER Data – Student Satisfaction

  • Achieved main reason for doing the training: 90.6%
  • Recommend training provider: 83.1%
  • Satisfied with assessment: 87.0%
  • Satisfied with support services overall: 80.1%
  • Satisfied with teaching: 84.2%
  • Satisfied with the facilities: 80.1%
  • Satisfied with the learning resources: 81.0%
  • Satisfied with the training overall: 87.2%

ITECA also has significant concerns with using international student visa processing data to assess the integrity of training providers that support international skills training students.

“ITECA has formally advised the Minister for Immigration that the irregularities in the visa processing system have now reached a point where they threaten the integrity of Australia’s international education system. The reports of irregularities are not isolated incidents but rather, represent a troubling pattern over a considerable period that requires urgent attention as there is arguably a systematic failure in the student visa processing arrangements that renders the system not fit for purpose,” Mr Williams said.

In looking at the Migration Strategy in its entirety, ITECA has concerns about how the sweeping nature of the reforms set out in the Strategy will play out when detailed policy is determined.

“When it comes to actioning the reforms set out in the Strategy, ITECA is calling on the Australian Government to develop, in close consultation with our members, policy responses that are measured, ones that support international students and the quality independent tertiary education providers these students study with,” Mr Williams said.

Given the Australian Government’s messaging about reducing the overall migration intake by more than 200,000 people per year, there are concerns that it’s international skill training students wanting to study in Australia that the Australian Government will target.

“The fact that the Australian Government has not ruled out placing a cap on the number of international students able to come into Australia is of concern,” Mr Williams said.

ITECA shares the Australian Government’s commitment to ensure that overseas students can study in Australia with confidence, having complete confidence in the quality of the tertiary education they will access.

“While we broadly welcome the direction of the reforms set out in the Strategy, the ITECA membership has concerns that the Australian Government’s response will be disproportionate to the risks that may exist,” Mr Williams concluded.

 

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5 comments

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  1. Clakka

    Huh! The temerity of ITECA.

    The utterly exploitative and dysfunctional migration system of the last decade was paired with and guilefully manipulated by those in the privatized skills training sector – rorts and shonky operators abounded. And visa holders were left untrained or inadequately trained, with quals being handed out willy-nilly like tissue paper. The reputation of the sector was in tatters.

    The government has been in process of an in-depth review of the education and training sector, and is still taking consultations.

    To me it seems more than a bit reckless of ITECA to be making knee-jerk and sensational accusations against the government’s serious efforts over the inter-related fronts before any detailed conclusions or defined actions are proposed.

  2. Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA)

    Your statement raises some significant concerns about the functioning of the migration system and its interplay with the independent skills training sector. However, it’s important to consider the broader context, as highlighted by the data from the National Centre for Vocational Education and Research (NCVER). This data indicates that the majority of international students have had positive experiences with independent Registered Training Organizations (RTOs).

    While issues of exploitation and inadequate training are indeed serious and warrant attention, generalising the entire sector based on isolated examples overlooks the successes and positive outcomes reported by many international students. These students have gained valuable skills and qualifications that have been recognised and respected within their fields.

    The Migration Strategy reflects a less than balanced approach, failing to recognise both the both the shortcomings and the successes of the the independent skills training sector. Addressing the issues in the training sector requires a nuanced understanding that recognises the diversity of experiences among international students and the varied performance of RTOs. It’s important to support continuous improvement in the sector while acknowledging and learning from its successes.

  3. B Sullivan

    A student exchange system might justify the huge geographical commute between home and the campus of the educational institution that international study requires. Australians might benefit from being educated overseas and Australia might benefit if they return to it with that education. But if students end up migrating to the place of study then their respective countries are deprived of their newly acquired expertise and their service.

    Using education as an excuse to promote economically rationalised migration is supported, like so many stupid ways of doing things, because it is very profitable. Selling education was pre-COVID Australia’s third highest export earner. Australian profiteers were hooked on it. They just couldn’t get enough of it. Like Real Estate and Mining. So because overseas students are so profitable they don’t wan’t to waste valuable student places on locals who used to have free access to a University education, unless the locals, like the international students, pay a fortune for the privilege of acquiring the knowledge that they sell.

    Yet the knowledge bestowed by an education is an odd commodity that can be given to people freely and still possessed by those that give it. People can even steal your knowledge and you will still have it. All you have lost is the ability to restrict that knowledge. Restricting knowledge is what the profiteers do. The more that knowledge is freely available the less dependent people are on the profiteers who control the flow of it. The more we have free access to knowledge the more we are capable of dealing with the things that arise as a consequence of possessing or being deprived of knowledge.

    If we all have access to Artificial Intelligence, instead of it being limited to the few who would use it to control the rest, then we can put it to use to protect ourselves from such misuse. For example, how do you know if the political interview you are watching on your personal device of choice is not a fake AI creation? The AI app on your device detects it as an AI fake, and then automatically warns you and can even provide you with evidence of the fakery, all because it can do in seconds what a team of expert video analysts might take weeks or months to detect.

  4. New England Cocky

    Perhaps the optimal resolution would be to deregister ITECA and return all funding to the TAGFE system, where standards can by maintained and the general public can be confident that tradies are properly trained to successfully complete any relevant task in acceptable time to a competent standard.

  5. New England Cocky

    @ B Sullivan: An excellent comment identifying many of the errors of COALition unthinking. Skills training at every level must be encouraged, not killed off by financial barriers to pay Vice Chancellors exorbitant salary packages for a desk jockey job. VCs may aspire to corporate greatness and unwarranted salary packages, that was the ”gift” of the Dawkins ”Reforms” imposed by unthinking Canberra Bubble pollies who believes an inch apart on the map was just a short step.

    But consider the proposal to amalgamate education centres in Armidale, Bathurst, Lismore, Coffs Harbour as one giant super-campus ….. in the times before high speed Internet connections. Stupidity proven, the Dawkins Report was an unfortunate pre-cursor to the Piccoli Reforms in NSW school education, that force amalgamated schools in regional centres because ”country kids never do very well”.

    The disastrous consequences have destroyed regional state school secondary education ….. while the political idiot who planned & implemented the disaster was awarded a Professorial position at UWS Sydney. Not a a bad outcome for a country boy from SW NSW.

    The late David Drummond (MP for Armidale then New England) established the Armidale Teachers College in 1929 with the belief, ”Give a country kid a chance and do not be surprised how far they go”. UNE graduates have risen to top executive positions in multinational corporations and been state Premiers, agricultural leaders both with innovation and politics. Our non-graduates have done at least as well thanks to the excellent schools before the ”Piccoli Reforms”.

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