Category: Australia

How to maintain integrity as an education agent

“With each client there is more learning, as no two cases are exactly the same”

You don’t have to look far to find criticism of education agents in the field of international student recruitment.  From headlines condemning onshore student ‘poaching’ to accusations of application fraud, it’s harder to find praise for the role they play in helping students make one of the most important decisions of their lives. Maintaining integrity is essential for this controversial profession. Dharmendra Patel, managing director of the Aussizz Group, explains some of the key principles education agents must abide by. 

“Being an advisor who helps prospective students meet their future possibilities means having important responsibilities”

In the past not many people had access to study or work opportunities in different countries. But times have changed, and for the better. Countries like the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, and a few mainland European countries have emerged as leaders that offer education and jobs highly desirable to today’s prospective international students. It is not merely that they pay the top dollar, but they provide a chance to nurture one’s talents and grow to be a contributor. Apart from better-paying jobs, and renowned degree, it is the overall experience one can have which is ever more captivating.

Education agents are often responsible for introducing people to these opportunities. Being an advisor who helps prospective students meet their future possibilities means having important responsibilities. Their role is a diverse one, and the overseas consultant significantly impacts the life of a person who comes to them for proper guidance about the crucial decision of studying abroad.

In most cases, to better understand the client’s perspective and provide the best solution, all dealings happen face to face. With each client there is more learning, as no two cases are exactly the same.

Due to the important role agents play in their clients’ lives, preserving truthfulness and being upright with the people seeking advice is vital. There are certain practices that a consultant can observe to maintain the integrity in the entire process.

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Reflecting on 20 years of AAERI

Rahul Gandhi, president of the Association of Australian Education Representatives in India, reflects on the association’s history as is celebrates its 20th anniversary.

While I was a student in Australia 20 years ago, AAERI was born at the Australian High commission, New Delhi, as the brainchild of Prof Tom Calma and the founder AAERI members. For any child, the initial 5 years are important as these define his character. Similarly for AAERI, the initial 5 years were important. It was because of hand holding by the Australian High commission, New Delhi, that AAERI was able to crawl, walk and eventually stand on its own feet. Today, the child has grown into an adult and AAERI is a proud Indian association which operates within the framework of the ESOS act of Australia & AAERI’s code of ethics. For AAERI, Australia is its soul and India is its heart.
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How important are international students to Australia’s universities?

“The prosecution respectfully presents as evidence recent shenanigans purporting to be informed policy debate about university funding, with a starting point of 20% reduction in government contributions”

Stephen Connelly, director of GlobalEd Services, a consulting firm specialising in international education and internationalisation, challenges the claim that Australian universities are too dependent upon the revenue international students bring.

Discussion about the significance of international students for Australian universities often centres around their revenue contribution, and the risk associated with maintaining or growing enrolment levels in a system with a greater proportion of international students than almost any other in the world.[1] This ignores the importance of international students in classrooms and on campuses around Australia, bringing different perspectives and helping local students develop a global mindset, including for about 15% of local students participation in overseas mobility programs.

Acknowledging the need for a more comprehensive appreciation of Australian universities’ internationalisation programs, this article continues the focus on enrolment and revenue, to clarify the extent of the reliance or otherwise of Australian universities on international students.

Each year, Australian universities report enrolment and revenue data to the Department of Education and Training. This data set is a rich source of information about enrolment, revenue, academic success and attrition rates. Of specific interest are proportions of students who are international, proportion of revenue sourced from international students, and academic success of students. 2014 enrolment data are now available, with finance data released around November each year.

In 2014, 24.3% of students in Australian universities were international.

Proportions of University Students who are International – all Modes

2014 24.3%
2013 24.3%
2012 25.2%
2011 26.7%
2010 27.4%
2009 27.6%
2008 27.0%
2007 26.1%
2006 25.9%
2005 25.3%

Proportions here include students studying outside Australia, either online, at branch campuses or in offshore partnership programs.

In 2014, 18.7% of university students studying onshore in Australia were international. Recently, growth in international students has not kept pace with growth in domestic students.

Proportions of University Students who are International – Onshore

2014 18.7%
2013 18.3%
2012 19.1%
2011 20.6%
2010 21.3%
2009 21.1%
2008 20.3%
2007 19.4%
2006 19.1%
2005 18.6%

Open Doors and OECD data show that Australia’s proportion of international students compares with 17% in the UK, 16% in Canada, and 4.2% in the US.

In 2013, 16.3% of total revenue at Australia’s universities came from international student tuition fees.

Proportion of revenue from international students

2013 16.3%
2012 16.4%
2011 17.5%
2010 17.6%
2009 16.7%
2008 15.5%
2007 15.0%
2006 15.0%
2005 15.2%

Does 16.3% represent unhealthy over-reliance? I don’t think so. There is risk involved in managing any revenue source. Far worse to be over-reliant on government revenue. The prosecution respectfully presents as evidence recent shenanigans in Australia purporting to be informed policy debate about university funding, with a starting point of 20% reduction in government contributions. Give me business risk any day.

“Does 16.3% represent unhealthy over-reliance? I don’t think so. There is risk involved in managing any revenue source”

Finally, international students commencing bachelor degrees in Australian universities in 2014 passed 85.2% of what they attempted in first year, higher than domestic students (83.4%), the third year in a row that international students have bettered their domestic peers. Australian universities pay attention to the academic success of international students.

 

[1] Australia in 2012 had the second highest proportion of international students among its undergraduate population of any OECD economy, behind Luxembourg.

I was a rookie teacher and had no confidence – so I came to London

“I was told I’d love it here and no account to book a return flight. Of course I didn’t listen and had to cancel it a few weeks later!”

Kimberley Poon, a supply teacher in London with Prospero Teaching, writes about making the big move from Australia to England to teach, and why braving the journey to the other side of the world – despite dubious encouragement from some of her friends – was worth it.

“Wow, you’re going to London!”

“If you can teach in London. you can teach anywhere.”

What would a translation app have made of my colleagues’ good wishes? “You’re crazy! You’ll be eaten alive by British kids.” Thanks, guys!

It was a fair point, though. Why was I leaving Australia straight after graduation to put myself at the mercy of the English education system – something I knew almost nothing about?

My last term at university in Melbourne had been a tough one for personal reasons. And in the education faculty, our heads had been filled with warnings about the near-impossibility of achieving a work-life balance in teaching. Burn-out was the risk, we were repeatedly warned: “Sixty per cent of you won’t make it beyond five years in teaching.”

Encouraging. Not.

I’d dreamed of being teacher since I was 13; it was all I had ever wanted to do. And I just knew that I was a prime candidate for burn-out. I would give it my all because, temperamentally, I didn’t know how not to.

I was in line for two full-time teaching jobs back home but decided half-way through my interviews that the right way into the profession for me was to work part-time as a supply teacher.

I needed to take it gently and start by boosting my confidence so I had more faith in my own abilities before I took the plunge in a full-time post.

By chance, I found a flier for a British-based teacher recruitment agency and got in touch. And I know I simply wouldn’t have come to the UK without Paddy, the recruitment consultant they teamed me up with in London.

I can get pretty anxious and at this point I was still dithering about whether or not it was a good idea to come to Britain.

Eventually, with much encouragement and calming of nerves from Patrick, I decided to come over – for three months. Patrick said I’d love it here and told me on no account to book a return flight. Of course I didn’t listen and had to cancel it a few weeks later!

So here I was in London, faced with the prospect of my first teaching post. I was still not feeling at all confident in my abilities – I had only just finished my teacher training, after all, and my final school placement in my last term hadn’t gone particularly well and had shaken what self-belief I had.

But straight away in London, I was already experiencing a new sense of independence and personal growth. Back home I lived with my family; here I was an adult building a new life in an unfamiliar city.

And I think London schools are incredible. It’s quite a shock being in such a complex culture, with so many accents to get used to. At home, the area I come from is not very diverse, so this is a new – and exciting – experience for me.

“At home, the area I come from is not very diverse, so this is a new – and exciting – experience for me”

And the range of school types in Britain is so different to Australia. I have taught in public schools (which are actually fee-paying and not free at all), free schools (part of the state sector but free of local authority control), academies (similar to free schools) and Church of England schools. It has been so interesting to see all the different ways teachers plan their classes and the approaches they take.

And as I acquired so much new experience in such contrasting types of school in a very short space of time, I began to find my feet.

Gradually, I began to feel I was missing out on the continuity of seeing the kids through the learning process. So for the last half term I’ve been doing a job share at a school where I’ve been doing supply cover for a while. And I’m working the rest of the week, too, in supply roles.

With the teacher over-supply situation at home getting worse, a lot of my friends have still not got jobs whereas here there’s as much work as I want.

Some of my friends in Australia are doing supply teaching. But, unlike me, their work isn’t guaranteed. In London, once I’ve said which days I’m available, the agency finds me work – or pays me off. It’s a win-win situation.

I’ve made life-long friends among other Aussies in London working for the same agency. We hang out together a lot. The agency let five of us take time off together to do a tour of the Baltic and Russia. It was fantastic.

So, having cancelled my flight home, I’ve been in the UK for two years. And I want more of it. I’m now looking for ways to stay on here. Any ideas?