Page 4529 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 18 October 2011

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conversation. That is the answer from Mrs Dunne: “Let’s empower people and let’s have a conversation.”

Education—Knight report

MS PORTER: My question is to the minister for education. Could the minister report to the Assembly on the implications of the Knight report for ACT higher education institutions?

MR BARR: I thank Ms Porter for her question and, indeed, for continuing her tradition of asking more questions on the Education and Training portfolio than the entire opposition combined.

Michael Knight released his report on this important Australian export industry last month. The report makes 41 recommendations, a number of which are critical to the competitive higher education environment that Australia competes in. Most importantly, these recommendations include reducing visa processing times for students enrolling at universities, reducing the financial requirements that international students need to meet to get their visa by up to $36,000, by giving bachelor, master’s and PhD graduates access to a post-study work visa that will allow them to work in Australia for up to four years after they graduate, and, importantly, changing the work restriction for international students from 20 hours per week to 40 hours per fortnight. The federal government has agreed to these recommendations and will be implementing them, with some modifications.

It is important to note that these changes are of particular benefit to universities in the ACT. Whilst the University of Canberra and the ANU have not been impacted as badly as some other Australian higher education institutions by the recent decline in international students coming to Australia, both institutions will welcome these changes—and, indeed, have welcomed these changes. It will make it easier for them to boost their international enrolments, which will be critical to the new demand-driven model of higher education that comes into place in January 2012.

Importantly for the economic diversification of our economy, it will be a great boost and will help us to achieve a long-term vision that education and training, particularly in the higher education sector, will drive the ACT economy well into our second century as a city.

MS PORTER: Supplementary.

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Ms Porter.

MS PORTER: Minister, how has the vocational education sector been affected?

MR BARR: Whilst I have indicated support for the Knight report recommendations, in my view they do not go far enough to assist vocational institutions—in our local context particularly the CIT—to bring international students into the country. Public vocational institutions like the CIT are highly regulated—in fact, more regulated than universities—to ensure that they provide a high quality of education provision for international students.

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