Is Australia Promising International Students False Hope Of Permanent Residency?

Is Australia Promising International Students False Hope Of Permanent Residency?

In light of the federal government's crackdown on student visa fraud in Australia, shocking data has revealed that just half of international students find work after graduating.

Megha ChowdhuryUpdated: Monday, October 16, 2023, 07:04 AM IST
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"I might get a job or I might not, but I'll just have to keep trying," said a student. | File

In light of the federal government's crackdown on student visa fraud in Australia, shocking  data has revealed that just half of international students find work after graduating.

A report by Grattan Institute, Australia's leading public policy think tank revealed a harsh reality for more than 600,000 young people who flock to the nation’s universities in hopes of landing a stable job.

It found just more than 50 per cent land full-time work after finishing their studies, with most working in low-skilled roles and earning less than $53,300 US Dollar per year.

Grattan’s economic policy program director Brendan Coates said the   government is giving 'false hope' to thousands of graduates who will never gain permanent residency. 

“We shouldn’t keep offering so many international graduates false hope about being able to stay permanently in Australia when most clearly can’t,” Mr Coates said in the report.

“It erodes public trust in our migration program. It hurts the long-term prospects of those graduates who do stay permanently.”

According to official data from the High Commission of India, there were around 95,791 Indian student visa holders in Australia from January to April 2023 this year.

The rosy future paradox

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 told the SBS. 

 Yeganeh wants universities to help students better prepare for the workforce and make study career requirements transparent. 

While recalling her first career festival in Australia in 2018, Yeganeh adds, "Many job ads blatantly stated they don’t accept international students. There were a few roles that we could get into and very limited job opportunities."

Although Yeganeh says that things have changed dramatically since then, the Grattan report revealed that many employers were still unwilling to hire international graduates.

According to the Grattan report, the government’s “generous” policy will leave tens of thousands of young people “in limbo” working in low-paid jobs unrelated to their career aspirations.

“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,” it said.

"I might get a job or I might not, but I'll just have to keep trying."

Amrita Arora, a Flinders University student who just finished her Masters in Mechanical Engineering, says, "We are facing challenges in securing steady employment and are frequently working in jobs that require lower skills."

Amrita is well aware that she might end up back in India once her post-study visa expires, but she’s enjoying her time in Australia regardless. "We have opportunities here, but if this doesn't work, we should always have a plan B," she said.

Calls for an overhaul 

The report also called for major policy overhaul, including a reduction in the duration of post-study work visas for international graduates.

It pushed to raise English language requirements for graduate visa holders and limit graduate visas to people younger than 35.

‘These reforms would cut the number of graduates we leave in limbo while ensuring Australia continues to attract the best international students and help the best graduates to stay,’ Mr Coates said in the report.

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