Well thank you so much Michaela. To my ministerial parliamentary colleagues, to the wonderful gathering we have here today of leaders of industry and business, leaders in education, leaders in government.
t is a very esteemed gathering, and it is great to see so many familiar faces, but expert faces, in the room, who are working to contribute to this very significant industry and the role in Australia that we have in international education.
The old saying goes that it is better to give than to receive; but the beauty of the international education market is that as nation Australia benefits by both giving and receiving. We give to the students who come to Australia, we give them life-changing opportunities that enhance
and develop their careers, and at the same time their presence here gives to Australian students the enrichment of their educational opportunities, a greater understanding of the world in which they will work, and a greater capacity to reach out to that world.
We of course give to the countries from which those international students have come the opportunity to further advance their economies, to further develop their prosperity. And at the same time they, by being here – through the tourism benefits, the other economic benefits –
advance our economy and enrich us through the trade and other benefits that come from their presence. We of course have also seen a reaching out of educational institutions, beyond just having students come to Australia to having Australian educational institutions reach out to the world and provide services elsewhere, which is a very important feature that I want to touch on
It's important as we consider this draft international strategy today that we work on policies and measures in that strategy that deliver for all four pillars of our international education sector: for schools, for universities and higher education institutions, for English language providers, and for vocational education and training.
As the Assistant Minister for Education and Training, my particular responsibilities lie in the vocational education and training sector. And I'm very, very pleased to see the number of business and industry groups who are here today, but also who made submissions to the
process to date, and who in their submissions have highlighted the role of the VET sector as one of the key facets – one of the key four pillars in international education.
Some $2.5 billion of that economic activity we enjoy is specifically derived as result of international VET students in Australia – 24 per cent of enrolments over the last 12 months have been in that VET space, with faster growth over that last 12 months than the growth enjoyed in higher education or in English language providers.
We've seen strong growth and impressive growth across all four sectors, and it's important that in developing this strategy we are very mindful of ensuring that the elements of the strategy support and compliment advancement in all four of those pillars of international education.
It's especially important to have the industry and employer partners here today, and all of the majors are represented in the AI Group, ACCI, the Business Council of Australia, as well as a number of other key parties. Because it is their role in both vocational education and through
a number of university courses that are offered, that helps take the role – the experience for international students from good to great. Because it is their role in providing industry opportunities and industry engagement opportunities that ensures students who have studied in Australia are given the opportunity to leave and to be work-ready at the time they return to their countries and to be able to apply not just the educational theory, but those learnings in a
workplace that help deliver real and meaningful outcomes for them in their careers and lives, as well as of course for their countries.
We should remember today as we're working through the strategy, that there's more than just one objective behind this strategy. There's the obvious objective, which is to grow the number of international students that we have studying in Australia. That of course is a shared objective for all of us, we want to continue to maximise that and the work that Christopher has outlined in reaching out to Latin America in addition to what we're already doing directly in our region is critical to being able to grow those numbers overall. But we also want to make sure we continue to expand the opportunities for Australia's educational institutions to move offshore, to be located offshore, and to grow the opportunity for them to deliver qualifications, training, and education in foreign markets, and to expand the footprint of Australian businesses, Australian educational institutions right around our region and the world.
We want to make sure that where possible we embed the very high quality of Australian qualifications and standards as part of a transnational arrangement for skills and standards. But particularly in our region, as global labour and workforce mobility increases, there is greater
recognition of the skills of Australian employees because we have complementary arrangements and arrangements in those other countries that reflect the type of high quality qualifications and standards that we have built in Australia over a very long period of time.
And of course we want to make sure that through the provision of these educational and training opportunities, Australian businesses who are operating overseas are able to access skilled and qualified workforces of the type that they have come to expect and enjoy operating here in Australia.
So there are many objectives to keep in mind today, not just the central objective of getting more students to Australia, but the objective of expanding the horizon of our educational offering overseas in a much, much broader way.
We have already done much to rebuild the educational experience in Australia and to restore our international education numbers. As you've heard from Christopher, and Julie, and Ian and Michaela, we've also done much to reach out to the world already through qualifications mapping and standards development programmes that we have run in countries like – or are
running in countries like India, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam. The free trade agreements that we've signed, and the new simplified visa arrangements, now open up even new opportunities to take the recovery that we've seen in international student numbers in recent years to a whole new level. And this strategy is critical to make sure we capitalise on that. It's estimated the world will need around 3.5 billion skilled workers by 2030, and
Australia wants to make sure that we are doing the best we possibly can to contribute to the delivery of those skilled workers wherever they may be working.
I said at the outset that it is critical and beneficial to both give and receive as part of this process. And I think TAFE Queensland in their submission, if I can highlight just one in closing, did it exceptionally well where they said, and I'll quote: “international students from over 90 countries represent an integral part of our population and enrich our campuses with cultural diversity. International education and training creates invaluable and lasting business, research, diplomatic, and personal connections that enrich both domestic and international students alike, providing the foundations of strong relationships between Australia and other
That of course is what we're trying to build upon today to achieve even more of.
Thank you so much for being here and for your participation, we really look forward to your feedback to take this draft strategy to a new level. And with that, we've saved in the ministerial line up – no? There we go. I was about to introduce Senator Scott Ryan, the Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Training, but apparently I'm closing and that means I'm handing back to the wonderful Robert instead. Thank you everyone.