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Friday, 22 March 1985
Page: 630

Senator RYAN (Minister for Education) —by leave-In June 1984, the Government tabled two reports which concerned overseas student policy. They were the report of the Committee of Review of Private Overseas Student Policy, the Goldring report, and the report of the Committee to Review the Australian Overseas Aid Program, the Jackson report, which also considered some aspects of overseas student policy. The reports recommended different approaches to the question of overseas student policy, and a task force was established to consider both reports.

The Government has now decided on a new program to be implemented, adopting basically the Goldring approach, with the following main features:

There will be an annual ceiling on overseas students in all categories, to be determined by the Government, and not to exceed aggregate numbers now applying.

Institutions will have flexibility to enrol overseas students up to 10 per cent of their total number, and up to 20 per cent in any course, within the overall ceiling. (Quorum formed)

The overseas students charge will be increased, so that it represents 35 per cent of the full cost of a place in 1986, and 45 per cent of the full cost of a place in 1987. For 1986, this will mean that the charge will be $4,340 for students studying medicine, dentistry and veterinary science, and $3,500 for students in other courses currently attracting the charge. There will no longer be any distinction between postgraduate and undergraduate students for the purposes of the overseas students charge. All students will be charged according to the cost of their course of study.

An overseas student office will be established within the Education portfolio to provide improved administration of the overseas student program. It will co-ordinate all matters relating to private overseas students, and will be a 'one-stop shop' for students themselves, institutions and others interested in overseas students. It will have responsibility for policy development and administration. It will act as a central applications centre for overseas students and carry out co-ordination with institutions and education authorities.

Overseas students sponsored by the Australian Government through the Australian Development Assistance Bureau, the majority of whom come from South East Asia and the South Pacific, will remain with the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Within the overall quota established by the Government, there will be separate quotas for individual countries. These will be determined by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Education, in consultation.

The Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs will be responsible only for visa and entry permit matters.

The Government acknowledges that there are likely to be students who wish to study in Australia but who are not able to be accommodated within the quota of students to be subsidised by the Government. To provide increased opportunities for these students, institutions will be able to offer places at full cost in courses, separate from their normal degree and diploma courses, which are specifically designed for overseas students. A steering committee will also be established to recommend guidelines under which institutions may be permitted to offer places at full cost in normal degree courses. These places would be above and beyond those places subsidised by the Australian Government.

New procedures to implement the Government's decisions are being established. There will be extensive consultation with institutions, State education departments, non-government school organisations and other relevant bodies. The new program which the Government has adopted will allow for the planned provision of opportunities for overseas students to study in Australia, while safeguarding the rights of Australian students.