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  • Writer's pictureDessie

Losing high-level talent in the new Temporary Graduate visa program

The recently announced changes to take place in the Temporary Graduate visa stream, reducing the age limit for eligibility for the Temporary Graduate visa from 50 years to 35 years is predicted to have significant consequences for Australia’s international PhD student intake according to The Group of Eight (Go8) and the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA).

The groups say that Australia's capacity to attract talented global researchers will be undermined by proposed changes to the Temporary Graduate Visa (485) as outlined in the Government's recently released Migration Strategy. They have urged the Government to exempt PhD students from the 35-year age cap.

"Maintaining a supply of highly skilled talent through international PhD students who choose to study, work and live in Australia, is essential to keep our domestic industries at the forefront of innovation and the nation competitive. It is also critical for the success of government priorities which depend on access to expert research and skilled talent in areas of high global demand,” Go* Chief Executive Vicki Thomson said.

In 2022, the Go8, which educates 165,000 international students both on and offshore, enrolled 28,986 PhD by research students (49 percent of all PhD students in Australia), of which 11,938 (51 percent) were international. In 2022, 40 percent of international PhD students in Australia were 30 years of age or older.

"Admission into PhD programmes requires extensive academic and often industry experience. Given that completing a PhD in Australia takes four years or longer depending on the research project, this change means many international graduates will not qualify under the new TGV age limit.

"Exempting PhD students will have a minimal impact on Australia's migration system in terms of overall numbers but will protect the future of Australia's research and innovation leadership pipeline," Ms Thomson said.

National President of the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations, Errol Phuah, said the policy change would influence the decision-making of prospective international PhD students, who have various global options for their PhD studies.

"Competition for talented global researchers is fierce and competitor countries are increasingly offering incentives to attract the world's best and brightest. Australia will fall behind as a preferred destination for research as a result of this measure,” Mr Phuah said.

The Group of Eight represents Australia's leading research-intensive universities, all ranked in the world's top 100. Go8 universities under undertakes 70 percent of all Australian university-based research, investing $7.7 billion annually into R&D.

The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations is the peak body representing more than 467,000 postgraduate students (domestic and international) in Australia.

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