China and Australia’s International Education sector


Australian Minister for Tertiary Education, Senator Chris Evans, shares his views on the importance of China to Australia’s international education sector.

About one-third of international students in Australia come from China, more than any other nation.

So it’s no surprise that education is one of Australia’s biggest trades with China and a very important part of our close relationship. Both countries are well known for their collaborative approaches to international education.

As the Australian Minister for Tertiary Education, I recently led a delegation of Australian education officials to China. I met representatives from Chinese government and education institutions. I gained valuable insights into issues for international education in both countries.


The visit reinforced the far-reaching role of education in our globalised world.

Outside the classroom, international education contributes to economic and cultural life. It brings in valuable overseas knowledge and higher academic standards. It builds relationships that will benefit our nations for decades to come.

We know that international students who come to Australia enjoy their experience, and the Australian Government is committed to ensuring that we continue to deliver high-quality outcomes and a rich and rewarding experience. Our latest university survey shows that more than 80 percent of international students are satisfied with their learning experience and 85 percent are satisfied with the experience of living in Australia.

All levels of government know that positive experiences off campus support students to learn. That is why the Council of Australian Governments have signed off on a comprehensive International Students Strategy so we can better understand and respond to any issues of concern for students in Australia.

All students who come to Australia are protected by law. First introduced in 1991, the Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000 (the ESOS Act) sets standards and tuition assurance for international students.

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With the large numbers of international students coming to Australia each year, the Government is making changes to improve the ESOS Act. In March 2010 we introduced laws that required all Australian institutions providing international education to re-register on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS). As part of this process, all CRICOS-registered providers seeking to deliver education to international students must meet stringent new criteria.

In addition, the Australian Government is establishing two new national regulators: the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency and the Australian Quality Skills Authority. These new national agencies will regulate and monitor providers in the tertiary and vocational education sectors.

We are also working to preserve the integrity and relevance of our student visa program. The Australian Government wants to streamline visa processing and make sure that only genuine students come to Australia on a study visa.

In order to do this, I have commissioned an independent review of the student visa program with Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Chris Bowen. The Hon Michael Knight AO is conducting the review and has been seeking views in Australia and overseas, and he recently spent a week meeting Chinese government and institution representatives.

Australia and China have a long history of cooperation in the education sector, dating back to the 1980s. The Australian Government was one of the first to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Chinese Ministry of Education. This partnership led to a series of education programs.


One is the hugely successful China Australia Executive Leadership Program. More than 100 Australian and Chinese leaders ‘shadowed’ a counterpart in each other’s universities. In China, this is known as the ‘lucky’ program, as many of its graduates are now university presidents. Vice Minister for Education Hao Ping graduated from this program.

The vocational education and training (VET) sector plays a crucial role in supplying the skills needed for industrial advancement and remains an important part of the education relationship between Australia and China.

The Australian Government and TAFE Directors Australia worked together on the Australia-China Vocational Education and Training Chongqing Project. This used Australia’s VET system as a model for China. The project was very successful, and participating schools have won many awards from the Chinese Government.

Australia is continuing to engage with China on all aspects of international education. In April the Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, His Excellency Mr Jia Qinglin, visited Australia. He joined Australia’s Prime Minister to witness the signing of a new Arrangement on Higher Education Qualifications Recognition between Australia and China. This will support increased academic and professional mobility between our two countries.

In the spirit of continued cooperation, we offer prestigious scholarships and awards for Chinese students and professionals to study in Australia, including the Endeavour Awards. Since 2007, when the Endeavour Awards began, 136 Chinese people have received awards to study or research in Australia. In the latest round of the International Student Exchange Program, 191 Australians and 178 Chinese nationals took part in the exchange.

People from China (including Hong Kong and Macau SARs) are eligible to apply for:

· Endeavour Australia Cheung Kong Research Fellowship

· Endeavour Postgraduate Award

· Endeavour VET Award

· Endeavour Executive Award

· Endeavour Research Fellowship

· Prime Minister’s Australia Asia Incoming Postgraduate Award

I encourage you to spread the word and consider applying. Applications close on June 30, 2011 for commencement in 2012.



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