International student graduates flood low-skilled jobs

Back in July, a group of academics released research showing that international student graduates on temporary (485) visas were struggling to find jobs in their field, with many being either underemployed in low-skilled jobs or unemployed.

However, because these international students perceive that the graduate (485) visa represents a pathway to permanent residency, they continue to arrive in Australia en masse, as reflected in international student enrolments and graduate (485) visa numbers surging to a record high in the June quarter:

Below are key extracts from this July report:

Data released by the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) shows an over sevenfold increase in international graduates’ applications for the post-study visa (485 visa) scheme between 2013-2015, from 974 to 7160 (see figure 1)…

The key findings from the qualitative component of the research show that the poststudy work visa is not perceived to provide international graduates with a competitive advantage on the Australian labour market. Instead, the visa provides them with a pathway to permanent residency (PR)…

Yesterday, a group of academics released another report confirming that international student graduates are struggling to find work, with many occupying low-skilled positions or unemployed:

The number of international students who stay in Australia after graduating on the temporary graduate visa – often referred to as the 485 visa – is growing fast. There were nearly 92,000 temporary graduate visa holders in Australia as of June, 2019. That’s up from from around 71,000 in June 2018 – a 29% increase.

The 485 visa was introduced in 2008 and updated in 2013, taking on recommendations from the 2011 Knight Review, which recognised post-study work rights for international students as crucial for Australia to remain competitive in the education export market…

Australian government data shows occupations such as “sales assistants and salespersons” as well and “cleaners and laundry workers” are in the top three for 485 visa holders across all occupations.

These findings are supported by research from the Australian Population Research Institute (APRI), which found that most international student graduates (i.e. that arrived between 2011 and 2016) were unable to find professional jobs. Specifically, only 24% of international student graduates from Non-English-Speaking-Countries (who comprised 84% of the total international student graduates) were employed as professionals as of 2016, compared with 50% of international student graduates from Main English-Speaking-Countries and 58% of the same aged Australian-born graduates:

As noted yesterday, Australia offers the most generous post-study work visas in the world:

One has to ask why, given a huge percentage of international student graduates are struggling to gain meaningful employment and they are clearly adding to the pool of unemployed and underemployed?

Alongside the proliferation of regular international students permitted to work 20 hours per week (with some working more hours illegally), they are also harming the employment prospects and wages of younger Australians, as noted recently by the Grattan Institute:

As the Productivity Commission noted, where migration does displace existing populations, it tends to affect people with low skills and youth most. That seems to be happening in Australia. And because international students and backpackers are primarily looking for part-time work, they may affect under-employment more than unemployment…

Low-skill migrants might also put downward pressure on wages (if accurately measured). The measured wages of those aged 20 to 34 have not risen as fast as the wages of older workers for some time (Figure 7)…

Australia is now running a predominantly low-skill migration system. People from this system form a material proportion of the younger workforce. Because of visa conditions, many of these migrants have incentives to work for less than minimum wages, and there is anecdotal evidence that many do.

The answer for why this situation has been allowed to persist is simple: to funnel as many international students through Australia’s universities as possible in order to maximise fees:

The impact on education standards and the employment prospects facing younger Australians is ignored entirely.

Unconventional Economist
Latest posts by Unconventional Economist (see all)


  1. Stewie GriffinMEMBER

    It won’t be long before all these Invaders International Students start asking legitimate questions as to why they were brought to Australia and the deal that they have ended up receiving.

    Then we’ll start getting an idea as to the longevity of the “a beautiful Multicultural Liberal Democracy” we’ve established for ourselves, and exactly how well it is going to work out for the majority of native born Australians.

    • Stewie. Best make plans for ur kids like I am of going o.s and raking as much as u can before it gets bad

      • Stewie GriffinMEMBER

        Unless the plan is to move to Eastern Europe the Multicultural malaise effecting Australia is the same one impacting the quality of life in all Western nations.

        It is abhorrent, it is unjust and those responsible for it need to be held to account.

        The plan, such as one that exists, is to move to the country and work to ensure the infection that is destroying our cities and culture is contained within those cities and then let the cities work as the population sinks that they are, and consume what has been imported.

        • Jumping jack flash

          +1, it isn’t a uniquely Australian problem for sure.

          Immigration like what we have here is eventually required for any economy built on debt and its growth for providing the illusion of actual economic growth.

          Consider that we are a debt ponzi where people buy debt and hand it up the pyramid, so we need a constant influx of new people to buy ever-increasing amounts of debt and pass it up to the next level.

          Or, as what actually has happened, the existing players in the ponzi enslaved the newbies to increase their own shares in the ponzi [to hand them up the pyramid].

          Not as effective, of course, but it’ll hold it for a while, until the effect wears off.


    Fodder into the hopper of the now insatiable mortgage monster.
    There can be no other way now.

  3. TailorTrashMEMBER

    Must be a lot of status anxiety among all those
    Indians with PHDs and Masters from second rate universities (not to mention their legacy British arrogance ) as they clean toilets or pick up trollies .

    Wonder if they ever think a prestigious appointment as a call centre executive in Bangalore might seem better .

    • once they’ve been here and picked up our accent, surely they can demand a premium.
      “G’day my name is Bruce, what is needful doh!”

    • But they steal IT and accounting jobs too. Along with retail jobs.

      Hopefully the bridging visas expire over the next few years.

      • Last time I was in Sydney, they seemed to have a monopoly on the railway platform jobs too.

        It used to be guys with ZZ Top beards, but alas the times change.

        • I can not believe they are hired to make announcements at train stations in Melbourne.

          Despite the millions of people in Vic who speak an Aussie accent, the government-funded train stations hire men with very strong accents.