The Australian Strategy for International Education 2021-30

Blog for members
09 March 2022
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The Australian Strategy for International Education 2021-30 Compared to the UK Government’s International Education Strategy: Global Potential, Global Growth (2021 Update)

You can read the full article with included data here


  • Australia has set out an international education strategy to encourage more students to study in their nation, extending visa lengths for recent graduates and including offshore learning as counting towards it
  • Australia plan on tailoring their offered courses to focus on skills missing in the labour market, whereas the UK is providing employability support from application to employment
  • Both countries take different approaches to diversifying the student population, the UK being more actively marketing UK HE and Australia focusing on cultural integration


In November 2021, the Australian Government published their International Education strategy, setting out four priorities they believe will help their higher education sector recover from the pandemic and increase the number of international students in the country. These priorities include growth and global competitiveness, and tailored degrees shaped to meet the country’s skills needs.

As Australia suffered a huge loss of immigrants (70% decrease) during the 2020-21 period due to border closure, there is a concern over the hit the economy might face if this is not resolved. It is hoped that their loss of skilled workers can be recovered by a return of high numbers of international students. This is reflected in the immigration changes.

Within the UK, we can see similarities to our own International Education Strategy, of which an updated version was published in 2021, with a similar goal to strengthen our Higher Education and attract more international students to the UK. This document will draw comparisons between the two strategies and highlight any major differences of opinions the governments believe are important for international students in their countries.

The Specifics of the Strategies, compared



Temporary graduate visa (equivalent to the UK Graduate Route) extended to 3 years for Masters students; temporary graduate visas for VET graduates temporarily increased from 18 to 24 months and temporary removal of requirement for qualification assessment and occupation nomination from the skilled occupations list; offshore online studying counting towards qualifying for a temporary graduate visa

Allowing temporary graduate visa holders, who lost time due to pandemic travel restrictions, to reapply for a replacement visa

UK Graduate Route for 2 years (3 years if PhD); points-based immigration route with student and child routes; Turing scheme providing funding for around 35,000 students in universities, colleges, and schools to go on overseas placements. During the pandemic also introduced: student hardship fund and immigration flexibilities

The graduate route is only open to students that are studying in the UK and applying from within the country. They must hold a valid student visa


Australia will give over $37 (£20) million in targeted support measures including regulatory fee relief (for up to 12 months) and an Innovation Development Fund for English language providers

Nothing on funding for English language lessons, only a brief note that the Government support UK pathway providers to help students improve their English language or study skills before attending a UK university, and that there are visa routes in place that allow individuals to study English in the UK before applying for another type of visa requiring a level of ability in the language to study a degree programme

Employability support

Aims to encourage international students to study subjects/courses where much-needed skills are taught through diversifying qualification levels in them, targeted career initiatives, and making more available micro-credentials and short courses (social inclusion)

Work Integrated Learning (WIL) also provides students with practical experience relevant to their course of study, including internships, placements and projects, and prepares students with the skills required to participate in the global workforce following their studies

Aims to enhance the international student experience from application to employment

Develop an evidence database of success stories with the graduate route through UUKi and BUILA graduate outcomes survey

UKCISA will collaborate with the CBI, UUKi, and key education and employer groups to support international student employability, gaining an understanding of student needs and barriers

Internationalisation and integration

Having international students in the classroom and local communities builds cultural understanding among the local students, preparing them for a globalised workforce and adding diversity to the country and society.

Government wants to go beyond the classroom and work with the sector and Australian communities to champion social cohesion. This includes internships and employer networks, extra-curricular activities, fostering a sense of belonging for the international students in the local communities.

Continued support of the Colombo Plan (a mobility programme for student study and internships in the Indo-Pacific region) and other educational mobility partnerships to develop their intercultural awareness not only at home but abroad on outgoing mobilities.

£1 million invested in a tactical campaign across 16 key markets and further to promote UK Higher Education to international students from diverse backgrounds across the globe.

OfS and UKCISA will launch a new project that will aim to find ‘what works’ in ensuring international students can integrate and receive a fulfilling academic experience in the UK. It will explore the positive impact international students have on home students, and what longer term lessons can be learnt from their response to the coronavirus pandemic on provider-level delivery and student engagement.

£100m into the Turing Scheme for 35,000 students to encourage educational exchanges to other countries, helping to support their broader internationalisation agenda.

Concluding Remarks:

There are many differences of approach in all areas of the international strategies between Australia and the UK. Although the priorities are similar with an aim of global growth and competitiveness, the method of achievement and action points within are less aligned.

With visa procedure, both countries have a graduate route, but Australia has extended the time frame to 3 years to allow graduates more time to start their career (the UK remains at 2). The country has also made it easier for students to apply for replacement visas that expired during the pandemic, and will continue to allow remote learning to count towards their eligibility for their graduate visa. This contrasts with the UK graduate route procedures that must be applied for while still on a student visa in the country and studying face-to-face.

On employability, the UK is focusing on the institutions to give greater student and graduate support from the beginning of the studies through to graduation. Australia doesn’t have this direct support focus for students, instead tailoring the degrees themselves to fill gaps in the job market and making the students’ more employable from the outset.

Australia and the UK both rely on good data collection to track institutional and international student success and place a need for this data. The UK noted a need for enhancing their evidence base of recent international graduates with the help of various organisations in the sector to build a major international student survey. However, despite this importance for data, the quality and reliability of current Graduate Outcomes has already started to decrease for 2021-22 data as HESA has stopped international student calls outside of the UK. Australia has a similar graduate outcome survey it utilises, but takes it further by measuring not only the tangible results of graduates regarding career but also the improvement of student satisfaction through the Student Experience Survey. This measurement into student integration and belonging, and analysis of the cultures at institutions and communities, demonstrates that Australia recognises there is more to drawing potential students to a university than good grades and potential career at the end.

Finally, international student integration and internationalisation. The UK makes a point of demonstrating how they value international students and their contribution to the diverse culture and labour market, setting out an action to investigate how to improve quality integration and fostering the engagement of local students. Australia goes further, placing emphasis on the wellbeing of the students and the benefits they bring to the local students’ intercultural understanding. Part of this is encouraging their local students to study abroad for a period to open their minds further to internationalisation, something the UK places less emphasis on in their own strategy and actions in educational mobility.

You can read the full article with included data here