| Education, International, Students

Growing International Education in Regional Australia: IRU response

The Innovative Research Universities (IRU) has responded to the Department of Education and Training’s Growing International Education in Regional Australia consultation, which has set out to consider how to encourage more international students to study in regional areas.

The IRU supports the Government’s objective that potential international students for Australia are alert to the value of studying at all of Australia’s universities.

There is a risk that the larger cities are better known such that options for study elsewhere may not be given sufficient consideration. There is a need to make better use of the potential from the breadth of the country to reduce the pressure on the major cities and create positive outcomes for all current and future Australians.

To ensure this, the IRU supports actions that will improve knowledge of the breadth of Australian universities and to stimulate vibrant, educated communities around all of our universities. The focus should be the value of each option, not to offset perceived weakness.

Possible actions are:

  • employing on-shore agent training and site visits to generate better knowledge of the education options available across the whole of Australia
  • stronger investment by Government in its coordinated national approach to promoting Australia, inclusive of all cities and institutions, as an education destination
  • stimulating research capability across all campuses as essential to vibrant effective universities in any location. In particular, ensure a wider geographical distribution of new research infrastructure to ensure a broader distribution of the positive spill-over effects of infrastructure.

There is no place for directing students to particular destinations, which would only have the negative impact of deterring students from coming to Australia at all. Amendments to the visa system to create incentives for students to study in particular locations could be considered but need to work with the broader immigration framework.

Read the full IRU response (PDF)

| Funding, Students, University Operations

Response to student loan cost recovery proposals

The Innovative Research Universities (IRU):

  • opposes the government’s plan to levy a higher education provider charge
  • accepts, but does not endorse, levying an application fee for providers wishing to access FEE-HELP.

If the Parliament passes the legislation now before it, the proposed charging scheme, as set out in the Cost Recovery Implementation Statement, provides a viable model to distribute estimated expenses according to the main drivers of that expenditure.

Why the higher education provider charge is not cost recovery

The ostensible reason for the higher education provider charge is to recover the cost to Government of providing HECS-HELP and FEE-HELP.  The schemes to assist students study out of Australia (OS-HELP) and to pay the student services chare (SA-HELP) are not included.

Charging providers for students’ use of HECS-HELP and FEE-HELP avoids recovering costs from those who actually use the schemes – the students. This shows the fundamental error underlying the charge as proposed by the Government.

The Government – rightly – will not charge students directly for access to HELP. Yet it will, instead, penalise students by further reducing the resources universities and other higher education providers have to deliver students a good education.  Since the charge is tied tightly to cost generators it involves several per student elements. This will have greater impact on universities and higher education providers with higher proportions of part time students.

The IRU members would not deny their students access to HELP nor does the IRU propose that students should pay to access HELP.  Rather, as a Government program that reduces Government direct expenditures on higher education the Government should bear the cost.

Read the full IRU response