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Webinar #5: The future of international education

The future of international education – A conversation with Rob Lawrence

As we adjust to the new reality, ways of learning, course delivery, recruitment and how we work in general are all being re-examined. Innovation is upon us, whether we like it or not.

In Insider Guide’s fifth webinar, James Martin is joined by Rob Lawrence, Principal of Prospect Research & Marketing, and one of Australia’s leading international education researchers and marketers, to discuss the future of international education, touching on points such as how the sector will re-emerge, whether degrees will still have value, and how Australia will be viewed as an education destination in the future.

The discussion commenced with Rob sharing the details of his report, The Asian Student of 2020; and where the market is now heading. Despite the rapid changes in the early months of 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic, the report, published in January of 2020, still effectively highlights how the international student sector has evolved in 20 years, and how far Australia has come as a country. Rob emphasises that the most significant change is Australia becoming a destination of choice. 

In discussing employment in a post COVID-19 world, Rob shares that there is likely to be a decline in some traditional industries, but this will be balanced with an exponential increase in new economies. 

“What’s happening now could be the biggest catalyst to change since the Industrial Revolution.”

In regards to Australia’s actions since the COVID-19 outbreak, Rob encourages everyone to talk up our response, as the country used this as an opportunity to invest in new innovations, from courses and industries, to new platforms for learning and working. Taking the sum of the whole of how Australia has responded to the pandemic, and looking at what is now offered, he suggests Australia has only improved. Further to this, Rob argues that the most successful and popular courses of the future for international students will be niche, relevant, with up-to-date content, diverse delivery platforms, a loyal following, market led rather than supply led, and above all, will offer value.

To conclude, Rob expresses that Australia has to demonstrate world best practise in the aftermath of COVID-19. While the pandemic continues to impact people across the world, Rob praises the established sense of community from within the sector, and emphasises that this unprecedented situation has reminded the sector who our clients and customers are, and that we can no longer take them for granted.

The following topics were covered:

  • Will degrees still have a value?
  • The future forms of delivery?
  • Next generation products and services?
  • Where will students come from?
  • How recruitment practices may change?
  • Will the role of agents change post-pandemic?
  • How will Australia be viewed as a destination?
  • Will university rankings be affected?
  • How can smaller providers go into new degrees
  • Long term impact on secondary international students
  • Shift in the reliance on international students?
  • How will the ELICOS sector survive the short term?
  • Are Australian universities with campuses or delivery partnerships in ASEAN locations better places for the future?
  • How will the sector will re-emerge?

During the webinar we polled attendees on the following questions;

  • How do you consider the university response to support and wellbeing?
  • Which country do you believe will recover the fastest?
  • How much growth you do you foresee in offshore university provision (eg offshore campuses and partnerships)?
  • How satisfied are you with the collaboration between states and federal government agencies in response to the pandemic?
  • Which areas of the sector do you think will have the quickest rebound?
  • Which key message do you feel will have the greatest impact on recovery?