Whilst working in the education sector means varied days within an accelerating industry, there are also a number of challenges present for in-house lawyers in the space.
Anurag Kanwar AARPI is the compliance and continuous improvement director at Group Colleges Australia and said that she enjoys working in the education sector as “no day is the same”.
“Education is a highly regulated sector, hence almost all decisions have a regulatory impact and risk. It’s a dynamic sector, an industry that is changing,” she said.
“Working in-house means that I’m more involved in the potential outcomes than a standalone practise where the advice is sought and then considered. In-house also means far more buy-in. You also get to see if your advice is accepted in full or in part, [making it] more confronting than a remote opinion.”
To work in this sector, Ms Kanwar said you need to have good listening skills, a keen sense of curiosity and be “unafraid to ask questions” as well as question how things can be done better.
However, there are also a number of challenges to be aware of within the education sector – including closed borders limiting the number of international students, and the ongoing requirement to meet the “needs of the business while the sector is contracting,” according to Ms Kanwar.
“A major issue for the sector is the cost of regulations (now with full fee cost recovery). A regulator which is delivering mixed efficiencies – the time taken for applications in some cases is over one year. So, this stifles innovation. It places the independent sector (some 180 providers) at a disadvantage compared to universities,” she said.
“There is also the pressure to give advice to ameliorate the regulatory disadvantage of the regulatory bias.”
Despite the challenges, Ms Kanwar added that there were a number of opportunities within the sector, particularly for in-house counsel.
“[Group Colleges Australia] is a leader in innovation using technology, particularly in administration and online delivery.
“The industry is accelerating – different mediums of education and brings issues that need to be resolved which can include cyber security, data protection, and privacy. The growth in online learning presents opportunities to deliver education and services in new innovative ways.”