Keeping Australia’s English language sector competitive

Keeping Australia’s English language sector competitive

Recent reports show that Australia’s higher education sector is poised to lose billions of dollars due to the travel ban. To combat this, the Federal Government is developing a new long-term strategy to spur economic growth through the English language sector.

Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan said the government is aiming to encourage more international students into universities through the promotion of English language courses, given that English is the most popular language to study.

On Friday, the government released the draft strategy, the ‘National Strategy for International Education 2025’, which seeks to secure Australia’s English language teaching sector’s sustainable growth as the global market becomes increasingly competitive.

"The strategy will identify opportunities for more students to study English in Australia and will build on the excellent reputation of our world-class providers,” Minister Tehan said.

“The strategy will map out opportunities to increase our English language teaching footprint in Australia, online and internationally”.

Last year, the Federal Government tightened regulations on English language tests as part of the campaign to keep the International education sector’s standards up-to-date.

This move also followed reports of some International students commencing studies despite lacking proficiency in English.

In 2018, almost 180,000 students from 150 countries flew to Australia to study English either as a stand-alone course or a pathway leading to further study, generating $2.4bn to the economy.

While the sector is smaller compared to the overall International education, which contributed $37.6bn to the economy, a considerable number of international students also relied on Australia’s English language sector before commencing their studies.

Some 22% of international higher education students had gone through English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) before starting their studies in Australia.

Likewise, some 28% of international VET students had also took ELICOS as well.

Latest figures from English Australia, which represents more than 120 member colleges, reported that ELICOS commencements went up by 0.6% in November, mainly by Chinese students despite a 15.6% drop in participation. Colombia took up half of the commencements in that period.

English Australia CEO Brett Blacker, in a statement, said that an effective strategy is critical as Australia continues to grapple with the effects of the coronavirus and bushfires. Earlier reports state that the education sector is bound to lose up to $8bn due to the travel ban.

“These events have the potential to heavily affect our sector, so looking at ways to reduce their impact is crucial,” he said.