Australia and China have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to strengthen collaboration on skills and vocational education and training (VET), during a visit to Australia by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said the agreement he signed today with Chinese Ambassador to Australia, Mr Cheng Jingye, witnessed by Prime Minister Turnbull and Premier Li will facilitate further engagement with China, Australia’s most important education partner. 
“The Turnbull Government recognises the importance of our international education system and the vital contribution it plays in the economic and social prosperity of both our countries,” Minister Birmingham said. 
“More of our young people are choosing to study in each other’s countries.  
“More than 150,000 Chinese students call Australia home every year, with a growth rate since 2002 of 350 per cent, while students from all nationalities grew over that period by 140 per cent.

“We value international education not just for the country-to-country and people-to-people links it creates and opportunities it fosters, but students from China also contribute around $5.4 billion to our economy in the form of tuition fees and general costs of living which is all part of the 130,000 jobs international education supports across Australia.”

“China is now the most popular place to study abroad for Australian New Colombo Plan students, hosting almost 4,800 Australians last year. 
Assistant Minister for Vocational Education and Skills Karen Andrews said the MoU built on the success of the break-through China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, which is opening up opportunities in high quality education and training services both at home and in China.

“This agreement will enhance mutual understanding between our respective VET sectors and foster a stronger bilateral skills environment for stakeholders in our two countries,” Assistant Minister Andrews said.

“Skills development is a significant priority for Australia and China, with both countries recognising the critical role that VET plays in meeting the skills needs of industry and boosting economic growth. 

“This MoU will strengthen skills collaboration and promote greater information sharing in targeted areas to provide significant opportunities for both our countries. “

Minister Birmingham said the Australian Government was committed to seeing the already strong number of Chinese VET students enrolled with Australian institutions continue to grow, and to deepen engagement on skills and training between the two countries.

“In 2015, more than 19,000 students in China were studying Australian VET courses, representing nearly 60 per cent of all students who are studying Australian VET courses offshore,” Minister Birmingham said.

“This is in addition to the many students from China who come to Australia to study VET. China was the fourth largest source of international VET students studying here on student visas in 2016, with nearly 14,000 enrolments recorded.

“Through education our students in both Australia and China are not only investing in an education, but also an understanding of our mutual cultures and values.”