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Future of International Students in Australia Australia Student Visa 2024 Updates

Australia’s International Students: A Closer Look at Employment, Policy Shifts, and Implications

Australia’s Stance on International Students

Australia stands as a global leader in attracting international students, holding the record for the highest proportion of international students relative to its population. As of October 2023, the country issued nearly 673,000 student visas, a historic peak. This influx of international students, however, raises questions about their impact on the Australian job market and economy.


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Policy Shifts and Employment Challenges

A major policy revision by the Albanese government limits post-study work rights (PSWR) for international students to two or three years, a reduction from the previous four, five, and six years. Indian students, forming Australia’s second-largest and fastest-growing student group, are exempt from these new rules. This change aligns Australia’s policy with countries like Canada, the U.S., and New Zealand, all of which offer up to three years of PSWR.

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Implications of Policy Changes

These policy alterations, however, are met with concerns. Experts like Ly Tran from Deakin University warn that reducing PSWR duration may not aid international graduates in acquiring necessary job experience or addressing the skills shortages in high-skilled professions. Further, reducing the age cap for temporary graduate visas from 50 to 35 could disadvantage mature students with caregiving responsibilities.

The Reality of Employment for International Graduates

Contrary to the notion that international graduates are filling critical skills gaps, data reveals that 51% of such graduates with a bachelor’s degree are employed in low-skilled jobs within three years of graduating. Moreover, international graduates reportedly have lower employment rates, participation rates, and median earnings compared to domestic graduates.

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Long-term Consequences and Recommendations

This situation contributes to a broader issue in Australia: a growing underclass of low-paid, low-skilled migrant workers, exacerbated by the international education sector’s current trajectory. The recent migration accords with India, offering extended work rights and recognizing Indian qualifications, may continue to attract a high volume of lower-skilled workers.

To avoid perpetuating these issues, experts suggest prioritizing quality over quantity in international education. This involves raising entry standards and breaking the direct link between studying, working, and permanent residency in Australia. By focusing on attracting genuinely skilled and qualified students, Australia could mitigate the challenges of youth unemployment, wage exploitation, and overburdened infrastructure, which are partly attributed to the current approach to international education.

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Australia’s recent policy shifts regarding international students reflect a balancing act between maintaining its attractiveness as a global education destination and addressing domestic labor market needs. However, the emphasis on volume over quality in international student admissions has led to significant employment challenges and societal impacts. It underscores the need for a strategic revaluation of immigration and education policies to foster a more sustainable and beneficial system for both international students and the Australian economy.


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