Australia plans to promote the Higher School Certificate and Victorian Certificate of Education as rivals to Britain’s A-levels as part of a new push to export its education expertise to the lucrative international school market.
Despite high regard for the quality of Australia’s education system and growing demand from Asia, the country’s curriculum, assessment and regulatory material is offered in only 89 overseas schools, a 0.01 per cent slice of the market.
Victoria is the biggest exporter of education products and expertise, servicing more than 30 overseas schools, according to a report by the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) for the federal education department.
NSW and other states – except Tasmania and the Northern Territory – service between eight and 14 schools abroad between them. In comparison, 495,000 students from across 130 countries sit Britain’s AS and A level exams.
“We’ve been resting on our laurels and have not been as active as we should be in this domain,” NESA chairman Tom Alegounarias said.
“The HSC is generally regarded as world standard. We have not sought to market anything to anyone but we get approached all the time. We’re as well placed as anyone but we have not been active and it’s high time we were.”
The number of students studying at internationalised schools is predicted to grow from five million to 10.8 million between 2018 and 2028, with the strongest demand in Asia.
“With the number of English-medium schools expected to double in the next decade, and global revenues expected to approach $100 billion by 2028, there is substantial opportunity for Australian export growth,” the NESA report said.
The products Australia could sell include assessments such as the HSC and VCE, curriculum materials – the academic content taught in schools – and regulation products, such as quality assurance processes.
But the present approach is ad-hoc, with little coordination between school, agencies and states.
“This has caused confusion among overseas customers,” the report said.
As countries such as China seek to improve their education systems, Australia could also sell teacher training and accreditation systems.
“The growing area of international educational business is around teacher quality,” Mr Alegounarias said. “Our teacher accreditation work is the best and most comprehensive in the world. They know that, so they seek that sort of advice as well.”
The report identified China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam as key markets. By exporting to these countries, school agencies could raise revenue and funnel international students into the Australian higher education sector.
Some 94 per cent of students that sat the VCE offshore in 2017 went on to study at Australian universities. The report surveyed international parents and found Australian education was well regarded overseas.
But it suggested a national brand for school products, to reduce confusion among potential customers. For example, the HSC could be described as the Australian School Certificate (NSW).
The NESA report put the case for exporting Australian education products. A tender has now gone out to identify opportunities in the market.
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald