With drastic fall in revenues during the last 20 months and the government promising to come out with an optimistic 10-year strategy for international education by the end of 2021, sector leaders are urging for steps to increase social acceptance and inclusion for international education and overseas students.

“One of the discernible and unfortunate trends [in relation to Australia’s international education sector] has been around perhaps not [having] as much social inclusion [for international students] as we would have hoped for,” Phil Honeywood, CEO of the International Education Association of Australia said at AIEC.

Linda Kristjanson AO, the former vice-chancellor and president Swinburne University of Technology added that the HE sector “will have an improved social license to operate, if we are a more inclusive and a more engaging entity”.

“One of the outcomes of secondary and tertiary learning should be to create global citizens”

“Students from different countries, cultures, and backgrounds foster a wider range of ideas, experiences, and insights.

“One of the outcomes of secondary and tertiary learning should be to create global citizens. Diverse student populations therefore foster the ability to be more culturally competent in a globalised and interconnected world.

“And so, even our domestic students who may not have had an opportunity to study overseas yet, would benefit from a culturally diverse student cohort,” Kristjanson said, emphasising the importance of diversity, for attaining an enhanced social license.

“If we are able, as a sector, to demonstrate a diverse, balanced, long term approach to student enrolments and educational participation, we have a greater chance of building socially cohesive learning communities. If the sector can self regulate in this way and demonstrate its commitment to diversity and inclusion, it will go a long way in to building our social license to operate.

“We have an opportunity to emerge from this recent crisis, more connected, more resilient, more innovative, more caring, and more compassionate,” Kristjanson posited.

Highlighting the HE sector’s role in the US and in the world more broadly, at AIEC 2021, Esther Brimmer, executive director and CEO of NAFSA reminded the university sector is “at the forefront of helping advance social justice and to shape the generations of the future”.

This year, AIEC 2021 laid emphasis on building a framework for a strategy towards enhancing the social license for the sector in Australia and attempted to bring the sector together for facilitating the achievement of this goal.

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