Monday, July 28, 2008

Foreign students at capacity level

Australia's international education body has signalled a change of course in foreign student education with a new focus on maintaining the $12.5 billion industry rather than growing it.

The shift comes as universities indicate they have reached capacity in their foreign student intakes, and concern over "fragility" in the international education sector.

Universities rely on foreign student fees for an average of 15% of their overall funding.

Australian Education International (AEI), the international arm of the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, will focus on broadening the range of countries from which international students come, encouraging diversity in the courses they study, enriching the links between Australian and overseas institutions, and getting the international student numbers right.

About 65% of foreign students come from Asia, with half of them studying management and commerce, mostly in Melbourne and Sydney.

AEI chief executive Fiona Buffinton told The Age: "Certainly, I would say that sustainability is the aim" rather than growth as in previous years.

She said the first phase of international higher education involved Commonwealth scholarships to international students as part of a foreign aid scheme.

The second phase was a "very commercial sort of view" for the past 20 years, which encouraged growth. "Now universities are certainly looking at what I think is the third phase, which is the sustainable model," she said.

She denied the commercial model for growth had been unsustainable. "We've got to keep evolving and improving on what is considered to be a good model," she said.

To draw students from a wider range of countries, AEI has opened offices in the Middle East and Latin America, part of a bid to protect the industry from regional economic downturns.

View the full article at:

Welcome to nation of university ghettos

A Widening gulf between local and foreign university students is creating segregated classes, cultural cliques and religious ghettos, raising fears of a backlash on campuses.

International education is a $12.5 billion industry, and foreign students' fees account for an average 15 per cent of universities' overall funding, but a higher education experts warns of "informal but real segregation".

Professor Simon Marginson, from the Centre for Higher Education at the University of Melbourne, said local students tended to work off campus and were not active in student life, and international students spent most of their time on campus, generally in the library.

While the atmosphere on campuses generally supported foreign students, Professor Marginson said: "So you've got this odd situation with the local students half-disengaged in a way I've never really seen before. The international student industry runs off the back of a reasonably strong local system which presumes a healthy relationship with the local students … all of that has become the marketing pitch. That's the flashpoint that worries me more than any other - that it could spring back into resentment."

Almost two-thirds of international students are from Asia, and many have no contact with local students. Eric Pang, president of the National Liaision Committee for International Students in Australia, said foreign students were not given a strong welfare system and had to rely on peers for support, yet were accused of failing to integrate. Many had told the committee: "There's not much international students can learn from Australia in terms of culture, or in terms of English. After all, the standard of English of Australian students is not high anyway."

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Friday, July 11, 2008

PIER Online is getting Lively!

At PIER, we are dedicated to providing innovative solutions for delivering information and resources to the International Education sector within Australia and around the world.

Today, we are very pleased to announce that we will soon be trialling an exciting new way to deliver discussions online in a dynamic 3D environment just released by Google, named Google Lively.

Lively is an interactive 3D chat room, managed by PIER, of which up to 100 guests can join, and 20 of those can participate by asking questions. We have setup two rooms already, one for the PIER team in which our administrators, developers & Diploma tutors will be available at certain times to assist with any questions you may have.

The next room is the PIER conference room, where we will hold presentations and seminars at specific occasions throughout the year.

We hope to see some of you drop by and say hello in the next few weeks as we work on designing the PIER Lively rooms and adding useful materials. Please leave us any comments you may have.

Note: Google Lively is a BETA release product and requires Windows XP and Internet Explorer or Firefox to run. In order to join a room, you must use a Google Account (your Gmail username if you have one). A Google Account is very easy to sign up for and gives you access to all of Google's wide range of services.