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Corporate advisory and consultancy in Australia, South East Asia and India.
The focus of this feedback to the Draft International Education Strategy relates to Indonesia due to its geostrategic importance to Australia and its undoubted challenges for our international education sector.
Our government representation on education in Indonesia has included both a role and leadership from Austrade and from AEI, the latter I understand no longer formally exists. This is very confusing for Indonesian government officials who have had many years of productive partnership with AEI across all sectors including with the Australia Awards, The Universities Australia (UA) Indonesian University Mentorship program, The BRIDGE Schools program as well as the TAFE Directors Australia initiated Indonesia Australia Vocational Education Leadership Program (IA-VELT)
It would be helpful if all stakeholders were clear on exactly what Austrade is responsible for,what the Education Office is responsible for ,where we want to be in 5 years time in our education sector relationship with Indonesia and how we plan to get there.
Australia has an opportunity to position itself as a natural best practice partner in Educational Leadership,School Management and Teacher Training.There are hundreds of private international schools operating in Indonesia and the numbers are growing annually.Peak bodies in Australia such as the Association of Independent Schools (NSW) have been increasing their international footprint in ASEAN including Indonesia and India running School Leadership and School Management workshops.Indonesia is a fertile ground for further development in this niche area of international education.
The ELICOS numbers from Indonesia remain low due to a combination of visa and price point challenges for stand alone ELICOS study in Australia. English is now the official language of the 10 member ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) which launches in late 2015.Currently there is no articulated English Language Strategy to position Australian as the natural ELT partner for Indonesia or for ASEAN.
VET numbers are showing significant increase for onshore study at both Private and TAFE colleges however it is proving very difficult for the VET sector to engage internationally. There is a lot of work to be done in Indonesia on building brand awareness of Skills Training opportunities between Australia and Indonesia.
Opportunities exist to significantly boost regional Australian Indonesian university links with regional universities in Indonesia. Currently we have a concentration of focus on Javanese located universities and capital city based Australian universities.
The Australian Regional Universities Network (RUN) could provide a platform for regional Australia to Regional Indonesia connectivity better reflecting the reality of regional autonomy in Indonesia where both the political and economic power is devolving from Jakarta to the provinces. Southern Cross University(SCU) for example has initiated a regional link with Indonesia through the SCU Partnership with Indonesia for Cooperation in the Eastern Islands (SPICE Islands Project) focusing on South Sulawesi, North Sulawesi, West Papua and Maluku.
Regional initiatives could also assist in developing outbound and inbound student mobility opportunities in regional hubs such as Medan, Makassar, Palembang and Manado. Further development of these initiatives would benefit from Commonwealth Government funding. The well supported Australia Indonesia Centre is doing an excellent job in promoting university linkages however it significantly advantages a select group of G8 universities and a select group of elite Indonesian Universities. Funding mechanisms could be developed that assist well planned region to region links and reflect the role of the regions in economic development as well as in education and skills development at the polytechnic level.
One of the key challenges facing Australian providers who want to develop a presence in the Indonesian market is the difficulty in getting visas for foreign teachers and the narrow qualifications that are acceptable in Indonesia to work as an TEFL teacher This impacts on English Language schools in Indonesia being able to employ Australian teachers.
Price point compatibility continues to be a major challenge for the Australian VET sector in its efforts to engage with the Skills training opportunities in Indonesia.The Australian cost of delivery is high and the Indonesian capacity to pay is low.Australia as a VET skills leader faces intense competition from government supported initiatives by Singapore ,Malaysia ,Japan ,Korea,Germany and the UK.
Some very effective VET sector strategic engagement has been done by TAFE Directors Australia and AEI ( 2102-2014) This needs to be extended and consolidated over a 5 Year period with input from KADIN and ACCI and with funding support from both governments as well as business and industry in both countries.
BUSINESS and INDUSTRY
In 2013 the Indonesia Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA) was initiated. Little has happened since then. The joint Business Councils plus ACCI and KADIN can work more closely with the Australian Skills Training and English language sectors to both address challenges and find market based solutions to the skills gaps. Before IA CEPA negotiations recommence it would be helpful to develop a road map for future cooperation and include Indonesian Polytechnics who have visited Australia under IA VELT in the discussions.