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Hola! Peru-Australia FTA a win for education providers

The entry into force of the Peru-Australia Free Trade Agreement (PAFTA) on 11 February 2020 has opened up a raft of opportunities for Australian businesses looking to strengthen their economic ties with the rapidly growing Latin American economy, particularly in relation to education services.

Australia’s educational institutions are well recognised in Peru. In 2012, Australia was the first country to host Peruvian postgraduate scholarship students under Peru’s National Scholarship Agency, PRONABEC. In 2019, there were over 2,000 Peruvian students enrolled in Australian educational institutions, representing 9 per cent growth from the previous year.

A positive outcome for Australian education providers under PAFTA is Peru’s commitment to encourage its relevant authority to recognise Australian university degrees. This would allow Peruvians with Australian university degrees access to better employment opportunities when they return to Peru, particularly in the public service and academia.

PAFTA also guarantees that Australian educational institutions including universities, international schools and vocational education providers can set up campuses in Peru. While Peru has retained the right to enforce quotas on the number of education providers operating in-market, it grants Australian providers the same regulatory treatment as equivalent Peruvian educational institutions.

Greater flexibility around online education services under PAFTA will also benefit both Australian education providers and Peruvian students studying in Australia. Peru has committed not to impose restrictions on online courses that are part of a broader education program that mainly takes place outside Peru. For instance, Peruvian students may have the option to complete part of their Australian education program at home in Peru through online study. 

While foreign workers including teachers, academics and other education staff remain subject to foreign workforce quotas of 20 per cent, Peru has committed not to tighten this restriction in the future for Australians.

Peru will also allow Australian education providers operating in Peru to request waivers that allow them to hire more Australians to work in post-secondary education, private schools and specialised language centres. PAFTA also allows Peruvian private schools to apply for a waiver to employ more Australian language teachers, creating stronger educational ties between the two countries.

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