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International student graduates’ report offers new options for career pathways

The new Grattan Institute report whose title is Graduates in limbo: International student visa pathways after graduation focuses primarily on graduates who want to gain permanent residency in Australia.


The Australian government has long maintained that not all international students come to study in Australia to gain permanent residency, many appreciate the high level of education available, the lower costs of gaining a degree compared with countries such as the US and the UK and many stay on temporary visas once they graduate to gain experience in their chosen career before heading home.


While the latest Grattan report states that only half of the international graduates secure full-time employment it also states that one in three returns to study in other vocational courses.


Australia’s current Temporary Graduate Visa (TGV) settings are more generous than those currently offered by other countries, both in terms of maximum length of stay and wide availability to graduates according to the Post-Study Work Rights Working Group Report.


However, the Grattan report does offer some interesting options for the government to consider enabling what it believes to be a better choice for international students’ post-graduation.


It states that Australia should offer shorter post-study work visas to international graduates. Visa extensions for graduates with degrees in nominated areas of shortage, and for living in the regions, should be scrapped. Instead, graduates should be eligible for an extension to their visa only if they earn at least $70,000 a year.


A suggestion was made for implementation of a new Exceptionally Talented Graduate permanent visa should be offered to the most talented international students immediately upon graduation. This would require a reform of the existing skilled visas to encourage talented graduates to stay, and to encourage employers to hire them. Suggestions were made that a visa reform should; allow Australian employers to be able to sponsor graduates earning more than $70,000 a year for a temporary visa, and those earning more than $85,000 a year for a permanent visa; offer points for characteristics that suggest applicants will succeed or have already succeeded in Australia.


Other suggestions for the government include: Launching a campaign designed to change employer attitudes about new graduates. Openning public sector graduate programs to international graduates. Designing universities support facilities to help international graduates build careers in Australia. Replace the fortnightly cap on international students’ work hours with an annual cap, to make it easier for students to gain valuable work experience while studying.


The report calls on the government to:


· Cut the duration of post-study work visas for international graduates.

· Raise the English language requirement for Temporary Graduate visa-holders.

· Limit Temporary Graduate visas to the age of 35 years (currently at 50) as for the working holiday program.

· Scrap visa extensions for graduates with degrees in nominated areas of shortage, and for graduates who live and work in designated regions.

· Only offer graduate visa extensions to international students who earn at least $70,000 a year.

· Create a new ‘Exceptionally Talented Graduate’ visa which offers a direct path to permanent residency for the most talented international graduates.

· Offer more help to international graduates who do stay to pursue their careers in Australia.


According to the Grattan Institute these reforms would cut the number of graduates unsure of their future in Australia and would ensure the country attracts the best international students.

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