Universities Australia provided a submission to the review of Australia's Export Policies and Programs (the 'Mortimer Review'), noting that trade-related programs and services are delivered by a number of government agencies and organisations. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and Austrade have broad responsibility for trade policy, market development, trade promotion and international business development. However, Australian Education International (AEI) within the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) has specific responsibility for export promotion and regulation of international education.
Universities Australia's key recommendations in relation to this review were that:
- Universities should gain greater representation in government trade policymaking forums, in line with the position of education as Australia's largest services exporter.
- Base public funding for university teaching and infrastructure should be increased, to allow higher education exports to continue to grow in a highly competitive international market.
- Greater attention should be given to `whole of government' issues that affect overseas students studying in Australia, including affordable housing, broadband availability and transport infrastructure.
- Funding for Australian Education International should be maintained or increased and its role expanded.
- Australia's ability to apply quality standards to higher education providers should be preserved in any free trade agreements currently under negotiation.
- Strong and consistent representation of the education export industry should be a central part of Australian trade negotiations, including advocacy on `behind the border' issues in partner countries.
- The current high cost of Australian student visas should be reviewed.