ASQA report shows more support is needed for International ECEC students
The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) recently published a strategic review into international education, which found that overseas students, including those studying early childhood education and care (ECEC), have good experiences studying in Australia, however work is needed to ensure this continues to be the case.
ASQA Chief Commissioner and CEO Mark Paterson AO said strong demand from overseas students has seen an increase in the number of registered providers delivering VET courses to overseas students and offering English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS), or delivering training offshore.
“Our latest report is a comprehensive response to risks identified in Australia’s international VET and English language education markets,” Mr Paterson explained.
“We have found that a very high number of overseas students are satisfied with their experience gaining qualifications in Australia, so we can be confident that the majority of providers are delivering quality training.
“However more work is needed to make sure providers meet their obligations, and to ensure we have the right data to monitor activity and eliminate poor behaviour.”
Mr Patterson highlighted ASQA’s commitment to working in partnership with other government and industry bodies and the regulated community to address the complex and dynamic issues facing this growing sector.
Evidence is provided in the report that points to some VET providers not meeting their obligations to ensure overseas students receive accurate information about their courses, meet the prerequisites for courses, and participate in a minimum of 20 contact hours per week.
The report warns that providers failing to meet these obligations “can cause significant harm to overseas students, undermine the community’s confidence in the VET sector and the student visa program, and impact providers that deliver quality VET courses”.
The potential impact of such omissions was highlighted in February this year when a group of concerned international students who had enrolled with Australia Institute of Business and Technology International (AIBT) appeared on a live talk show program in their home country of Nepal to share their concerns about the provider. The students outlined that they were amongst over 800 overseas students enrolled in the Diploma of Nursing (HLT54115) with AIBT who had been told their qualification gained at AIBT would not be recognised, following reports that the provider had enrolled students in the Diploma of Nursing without accreditation from the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council (ANMAC).
Recommendations in the report to address the concerns include amending the National Code to make it explicit that overseas students are required to attend courses on a full-time basis, strengthening collaboration across agencies to ensure consistent access to data and intelligence and ensuring offshore students have the same protections as students in Australia.
ASQA has indicated that it will publish clear information for providers about expectations for delivering training to overseas students and continue work to identify and take action against providers not complying with their obligations, with the findings from the report to inform ASQA’s ongoing risk-based regulatory focus.
The full report, Protecting the quality of international VET and English language education, is available here.