June 14, 2024

IRU response to changes to international education

Executive summary and key points of feedback

International education delivers significant social and economic benefits to Australia. The measures being proposed by government would fundamentally change the way that the international education system works and must be carefully considered. IRU member universities have diverse international student cohorts and experience in innovative models of transnational education (TNE), but have been disproportionately and unfairly impacted by changes to visa processing since December 2023. Any further changes must be equitable, proportionate to risk and should provide equalisation to address the damage already done.

• The IRU supports measures to improve quality and integrity – these must be targeted, evidence-based, proportionate to risk and more clearly communicated. The draft Strategic Framework as written risks damaging Australia’s global reputation for quality and student wellbeing.

• The IRU supports the principle of “managed growth” with each university negotiating sustainable future growth targets (for both domestic and international students) with the ATEC.

• The IRU does not agree that the Minister should be given additional powers to cancel individual courses offered by universities, or to set enrolment limits at the level of university courses.

• The IRU will engage constructively on planning for new purpose-built student accommodation – this should be evidence-based and avoid entrenching concentration and inequity across the sector.

• Priority groups of students – including postgraduate research students and students in exchange, study abroad and TNE programs – should be excluded from any limits.

• Government should work with universities on new models for supporting the strengthening of key partnerships in the Indo-Pacific through higher education and research.

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