Interview with Béatrice Dias, Project Coordinator at Francaustralia Education
Could you tell us more about the history of Francaustralia Education?
Francaustralia Education was the first education agency established in Australia 14 years ago to provide support to young people coming from France to study English, undertake tertiary education or follow professional courses. With offices both in Paris and Brisbane, the agency encountered an immediate success. After 7 years the French founders sold the business to the current owners, Ashlyn and Chris Philipps. Ashlyn and Chris are joint directors based in Adelaide. Coming respectively from an education and entrepreneurship background, they are both passionate about education and promoting French-Australian relations.
Our staff in Paris and Brisbane handle most of the day to day operations with a high level of autonomy and responsibility. However, our directors are very much involved in the strategic and future planning for the company. We have now expanded our business from Australian only partners to several key locations in Asia and New Zealand. So our students now have even more choices.
Although increasing our team has been very stable over the years, which is very much appreciated by our partners, and enables us to provide the best services. Over the past 14 years, over 7,000 students trusted us to make their dream to study in Australia come true and 92 % declared themselves satisfied with their experience with Francaustralia (Sources: Oryanoo survey).
How would you describe the activity of Francaustralia Education?
Originally primarily focused on languages courses, Francaustralia’s activity is now mainly centred on tertiary education and professional training. We follow our students all along, providing information and counselling, administrative and logistical support. Concretely, this means helping them finding the best course and the best place to study according to their profile and objectives both personal and professional. Our services are not free, but because we are paid by the universities, there is almost no extra cost to students. Sometimes we can help them with scholarships and discounted fees. The small application fee we charge also contributes to charities we support for education of the disadvantaged indigenous children in Australia and also “street kids” in Vietnam.
Once the students are in Australia, we offer ongoing support all the way through to the completion of the chosen curriculum. Thanks to our strong network in the education sector, we are able to solve any issues our students face very efficiently anywhere in Australia. That is why we recommend students make use of us, most especially if a crisis like an accident happens. We can directly facilitate the best outcomes and where needed, act as interpreters as all our staff are bilingual. Even though our website is in French, our services are technically available to anyone looking at studying in Australia.
Our local partners are universities, private language schools and TAFE learning centres. We have agreements with 25 universities in Australia, including 7 of the highest ranked Group of 8*. In addition to our local partners, we have several partners in other countries – New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Emirates. Most of these partners represent Australian based universities with excellent standing in the higher education stakes worldwide.
A growing segment of our activity over the past years has been the support to WHV holders, who are desperate to find a way to stay in Australia, in finding a professional course that may lead to a job and sponsorship opportunity. That said, we do not offer job services and cannot guarantee a job at the issue of the training.
We also give general advice and counselling in regards to visas, in particular the Post-study visa which allows students to stay and work full time for two years following the completion of their degree. If our students are interested, we refer them to an immigration agent we’ve been working with for years.
Can you describe your personal background and your role as Project Coordinator within Francaustralia Education?
I am originally from Picardie in France, where I studied Philosophy and French as a Foreign Language. I have been French teacher for 10 years, teaching in Africa and the Netherlands before coming to Australia in 2010. I’ve been very fortunate when I arrived in Brisbane to immediately start working at the Alliance Française. I did 2 years and a half with the Alliance, both teaching and counselling students on the best courses to follow. Thanks to my background in the education sector and my international experience, I got the opportunity to join Francaustralia Education’s team as Project Administrator in 2012. Since then, I have been juggling three main responsibilities: counselling students, admin and logistics, and marketing. As often in a small business, we have to wear many hats and practice multitasking assiduously.
My colleague, Marianne Millé is in charge of the relationship with our partners (universities, language schools and TAFE learning centres) which whom she renegotiate agreements every year.
How do you envisage the future of your company and how can the French-Australian Chamber help you achieve your objectives?
We always are looking for more partners in France who would like to send students (as a group or class) to Australia. As more and more French students seek to complement their degree with an international experience in English, we are trying to draw part of the flux towards Australia.
In complement to our traditional activity, we are also developing partnerships with French Business Schools to provide studies opportunities in France to international students. We run for instance 6 short international courses with Paris Business School dedicated to Luxury Brand Management, Arts & Culture Management, Event Management, Islamic Finance, and Globalization, Conflict & Diplomacy. These short programs are a two-week hands-on immersion including an average of 40 contact hours & conferences, company visits, excursions, events, and accommodation. They provide 7.5 ECTS points to be added to the student’s grades.
If these courses can complement a student’s curriculum, they can also be of interest to companies wishing to give their staff the opportunity to travel and deepen their knowledge of a specific sector. FACCI can obviously help us pass the word around and gives us many networking opportunities to pass the message ourselves.
* University of Queensland
University of Sydney
University of Adelaide
University of NSW
University of Melbourne
University of WA
For more information, please consult Francaustralia Education’s website: www.francaustralia.com.
Interview conducted on 13 March 2015 by Claire Dupré.
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