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Australia’s Innovative Education Policy
In the last decade, Australia’s innovative approach to the development and delivery of education has made it one of the world’s leading international education service providers. Australia has developed an education system which is innovative and effective, and is renowned for its policy developments. Many countries, eager to further develop their own education systems, look to Australia for advice and policy suggestions.
Australian Qualifications Framework
The quality of Australian education is assured through the development of robust and comprehensive national quality assurance frameworks covering the key areas of an institution’s operations including courses and qualifications, teaching, governance and client service and protection. The foundation is the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF), which links Australian school, vocational and higher education qualifications into a simple coherent structure of 15 nationally recognised education and training awards.
Work based qualifications and academic qualifications are part of a single system, allowing maximum flexibility in career planning and continuous learning. The students can start at a level which suits them and then enhance their qualifications as per their needs and interests which develop and change over time. The AQF encourages choice, flexible delivery, lifelong learning and simplifies international comparison and recognition. It also encourages cross-sectoral linkage programmes such as:
- Vocational Education and Training in Schools, which allows schools to offer industry based units of learning along with the mainstream curriculum
- Articulation and Credit Transfer Arrangements which helps students seek credit for their vocational study and move on to a degree
- Recognition of Prior Learning which helps to gain credits for further study through assessment of an individual’s knowledge and work experience
Australian Qualifications Framework is the world’s first of its type, and attracts strong international attention. Some 20 European and Asian countries have requested briefings on the framework in the last few years.
Education Services for Overseas Students
Australia provides some of the world’s most rigorous consumer protection mechanisms for international students through the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) framework. Under the ESOS legislation, institutions who wish to offer courses to international students studying on a student visa must first meet requirements for registration on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS). Each registered institute and the courses they can offer to international students gets unique CRICOS provider and course codes respectively. An Australian student visa can only be granted to undertake a CRICOS registered course. Registered providers must also meet legislated standards for marketing activities, education delivery, facilities and student support services. The ESOS Act also has a strong focus on tuition and financial assurance for international students and contains provisions for the compliance monitoring of education institutions.
Vocational Education and Training
Australia’s industry-led Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector attracts considerable interest worldwide. Many countries, wishing to develop highly skilled workforces to support strong performance in the global economy, have no equivalent system and are looking to the Australian VET system as a model. In Australia’s VET system, training packages describe the skills and knowledge needed to perform effectively in the workplace. The packages are developed by industry through National Industry Skills Councils or by enterprises to meet the ‘national competency standards’ and identified training needs of specific industries or sectors. Students graduate when they achieve the set of competency standards.
Student Visa to Australia
In an era of increasing security concerns, Australia’s student visa system is also attracting interest from those concerned with achieving a balance between strong international education sector and immigration integrity. Australia’s system is open, transparent, efficient and based on risk-management principles. A state-of-the-art, web based confirmation-of-enrolment system assists with the monitoring of student attendance and contributes to the integrity of the student visa system.
Australia is committed to furthering its international education engagement. An active reform program across schools, vocational education and training, higher education and research ensures that Australia will continue to provide high quality education outcomes for its citizens and international education consumers.