In addition to those who come to Australia to study VET programs, there are also offerings in their home countries.
“Since 2015, data on offshore VET students and VET courses delivered offshore can be extracted from the Total VET Activity (TVA) data collection.” These enrolment data can be found here, both for VET and higher education. Data for 2016 and 2015 are available at this site, and it also gives you access to earlier data for 2013 and 2014. You can use a ‘data slicer’ to focus your analysis.
The snapshot tells us that:
“Australian training providers delivering VET programs to offshore students reported 36,765 program enrolments in over 40 offshore locations in 2017. The majority (92%) of VET program enrolments offshore were with public providers. China was the top offshore location for public training providers and Vietnam was the top offshore location for private training providers.”
Offshore provision is therefore relatively small in comparison to what’s happening onshore, as we reported in an article in the last edition.
In addition, the “number of Australian training providers delivering VET programs offshore increased from 53 in 2015 to 68 in 2017.” “More than half (58%) of VET program enrolments offshore were with providers in Victoria followed by providers in New South Wales (16%).” In terms of what they studied in 2017:
“Management & Commerce was the top broad field of education for offshore VET students (45% of all enrolments) followed by Engineering & Related Technologies (15% of enrolments), although enrolments in these fields did not grow in 2017. Offshore enrolments did grow in the fields of Education (by 41%), Health (by 25%) and Food, Hospitality & Personal Services (by 19%). Offshore enrolments in Natural & Physical Sciences field more than tripled from 70 in 2016 to 265 in 2017.”
Insights from students studying offshore
Authored by Justin Brown and his colleagues, the Australian Council for Educational Research have produced a report which is based on the analysis of quantitative data collected through the “first ever global survey of students enrolled in Australian VET courses overseas” and supported by “analysis of qualitative data collected through a series of focus groups with students located in two Chinese provinces.” The report was published in late December 2018.
The report found that “Australian VET offshore includes a diverse mix of partnerships and delivery models.” The majority are delivered through partnering arrangements with in-country providers and are contextualised to local needs as well as providing an Australian qualification.
What do these offshore students think? First, “Most students are enrolled in international programs because their school or college recommended it to them.” In fact, “two-thirds of students had enrolled in an international major (i.e. with Australian content) because their
school or college recommended it.” However, “parent(s) or family members were rated highly by students as playing an important role in their choice of course.” Second, “students use and trust information but are looking for more information on outcomes and pathways.” Students highly rate trusted information about the course, especially in relation to costs and affordability. Having English as the language of instruction is seen as highly desirable because it makes them more employable. Other key outcomes relate to employment and accessing pathways into higher level qualifications. In their view, having both a local and Australian qualification “creates a point-of-difference in an increasingly competitive job market.”
Finally, if you have not seen it already, take a look at the National Strategy for International Education 2025.