Is Australia Giving False Hope Of Permanent Residency For International Students?

By Consultants Review Team Monday, 16 October 2023

In light of the Australian federal government's crackdown on student visa fraud, alarming data has revealed that only half of international students find work after graduating. Grattan Institute, Australia's largest public policy think tank, highlighted a grim reality for more than 600,000 young people who flock to the country's colleges in search of secure employment in research released this week.

It discovered that only over half of those who completed their degrees found full-time work, with the majority working in low-skilled professions and earning less than $53,300 USD a year. Brendan Coates, director of Grattan's economic policy program, stated that the government is giving 'false optimism' to thousands of graduates who would never be granted permanent status. 

"We shouldn't keep offering so many international graduates false hope about being able to stay permanently in Australia when most clearly can't," the article quoted Mr. Coates as saying. "It undermines public confidence in our migration program." It harms the long-term prospects of those graduates who stay."

According to official data from India's High Commission, there were around 95,791 Indian student visa holders in Australia this year from January to April 2023. According to Yeganeh Soltanpour, president of the Council of International Students Australia (CISA), who was quoted in the local media, international students aren't necessarily given misleading information, but the picture is often painted 'overshiny'.

"Every student comes with a purpose and hopes to secure a role, but there have been cases where they don't really know what they're in for entirely," Yeganeh said in an interview with SBS.  Yeganeh would like colleges to assist students in better preparing for the workforce and to make study career requirements more transparent. 

"Many job ads blatantly stated they don't accept international students," Yeganeh says, recalling her first career festival in Australia in 2018. There were only a few roles available to us and extremely few work opportunities." Despite the fact that Yeganeh claims that things have changed drastically since then, the Grattan report indicated that many firms were still reluctant to hire international graduates.

According to the Grattan assessment, the government's "generous" approach will leave tens of thousands of young people "in limbo" working in low-wage positions unrelated to their professional goals. "Most worryingly, one in three recent temporary graduate visa holders return to further study after their visa expires, typically to study a lower level VET course - suggesting that the visa is not acting as a stepping stone to full-time work in their chosen profession," according to the report.

According to Amrita Arora, a Flinders University student who recently completed her Masters in Mechanical Engineering, "we are facing challenges in securing steady employment and are frequently working in jobs that require lower skills."

Amrita is well aware that her post-study visa will expire and she would be forced to return to India, but she is enjoying her time in Australia anyhow. "We have opportunities here, but if this doesn't work, we should always have a plan B," she went on to say.

The research also advocated for fundamental legislative changes, such as shortening the period of post-study work permits for international graduates. It advocated for increasing English language standards for graduate visa holders and limiting graduate visas to those under the age of 35.

'These measures will reduce the number of graduates we leave stranded while ensuring Australia continues to recruit the best overseas students and assist the best graduates in staying,' says the government. According to Mr. Coates' report.


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