Non-Partisan Int’l Ed Parliamentary Group Launched in Australia
|16 April, 2023
With an aim to bring together sector stakeholders and legislators, Australia officially launched The Parliamentary Friends of International Education last week.
The group’s co-chairs, Libarela Party MP, Zoe McKenzie, and Labor MP, Julian Hill, were joined by the Federal Education Minister, Jason Clare, at the launch event that took place in Canberra on March 28.
Meetings and interactions with international students as well as industry leaders from both the private and public sectors are expected as the non-partisan forum should allow the MPs to do so.
Literacy about the international education system needs to be improved across the parliament, which was a main reason why this group has been established. Additionally, this group acts as a part of the advocacy activities put forward by Australian sector leaders.
Student experience, market distribution, and the sustainability of growth are among the issues that this group hopes to address.
“At different times, every study destination country has concerns about the strength of our social licence to operate in our wider community. Just when you think that international students are becoming more welcome some issue can come out of left (or more particularly right) field to cause concern,” The chief executive of the International Education Association of Australia, Phil Honeywood, said.
“For example, who would have thought during the recent Covid pandemic that accommodation shortages in countries such as the UK and the Netherlands would create pushback against any increase in overseas student numbers?” He continued.
“IEAA has recognised for some time the need to better educate both the wider Australian community, as well as our elected representatives, in the benefits that a diverse cohort of overseas students can provide us with.” Honeywood added.
He went on to say how the official Parliamentary Friends Group for International Education has been formed to this end. “Altogether, 43 federal senators and House of Representative MPs from all major political parties have now signed up as members of the group.”
After hosting a previous trivial virtual meeting, the IEAA has now officially launched the initiative. “We were overwhelmed with the response and had over 100 attendees, including the CEOs of associated peak bodies, on the night. Our guest speaker, the federal minister for education, Jason Clare, spoke passionately about the importance of our sector to the nation’s future. He placed particular emphasis on our sector’s soft power diplomacy attributes,” Honeywood explained.
Reiterating this statement in an online post, the CEO of the Group of Eight, Vicki Thompson, said that international education is “so much more than a numbers game”.
“Our universities have, over decades, developed deep and meaningful partnerships built on a foundation of research and education.” Thompson said.
“Group of Eight unis educate one in three international students who choose to study at one of our global powerhouses. It’s a no brainer that this sector, our largest export that we DON’T dig out of the ground, is supported across the political divide,” she added.
A statement that the group will be “conduit between the MPs who are interested in and support international education and international students in Australia” was previously made by one of the group’s co-chairs, Julian Hill.
According to Hill, this group is meant to serve as a forum for dialogue for both students and providers to “build an understanding and literacy amongst parliamentarians, of international education and international student issues”.
“With so many elected representatives in attendance, our association did not want the opportunity to go by without providing everyone with a handout that highlighted recent ‘Good news on policy initiatives’ but also contained ‘Calls to action’ to our politicians on the reverse side!” Honeywood continued.
“We are now forwarding a copy of this advocacy piece to every federal and state politician in the country. Going forward, we are planning to host at least one large cocktail networking event at Parliament House each year and we are ascertaining which politicians might be best suited to act as vocal champions for our sector.” He concluded.