Why Australia attracts so many international students

As documented recently by Salvatore Babones for the Centre for Independent Studies, Australia has the highest concentration of international students in the developed world, with a per capita intake that is roughly 2.5 times second-placed United Kingdom and three times third-placed Canada:

Last week, Quartz published an interesting chart illustrating why Australia’s international student intake is so high:

As you can see, Australia currently offers the most attractive post-study work rights in the world, at 24 months for bachelor degree students (and up to four years for post-graduates). This is around double the post-study working rights offered by most other competitor nations.

These post-study work rights are offered through Australia’s Graduate (485) Visa. This visa was liberalised in 2013 to give international graduates full work rights without needing to have a job offer or being required to work in an area deemed to be experiencing perceived ‘skills shortages’. The Graduate (485) Visa is also commonly perceived by international students as being a key pathway to achieving Australian permanent residency.

Not surprisingly, the attractiveness of the Graduate (485) Visa has seen numbers skyrocket to record highs:

With especially strong growth experienced among Indians, whose numbers surged by 37% alone in the 2018-19 financial year:

Indeed, Australia has attracted a dominant share of Indian international students on the back of its generous Graduate (485) Visa:

Australia’s dominance is coming to an end, however, with the United Kingdom last month announcing that it would match Australia by extending post-study visas from four months to two years (as illustrated in the first chart above).

This announcement has already scared Australia’s university lobby, which is concerned that the flow of international students, especially from India, could slow to a crawl:

Phil Honeywood, chief executive of the International Education Association of Australia, said Britain’s reintroduction of a two-year post-study work visa “could be a game changer for a number of markets we have taken for ­granted”…

International education expert Rahul Choudaha said… “Students will be very likely to switch over to the UK”… He said the British visa would be particularly attractive to students because it offered a pathway to permanent residency.

By contrast, universities across the United Kingdom are jumping for joy, predicting a new boom in enrolments of international students:

The government’s latest announcement was widely welcomed by university chiefs and representatives, who highlight that Indian students were particularly prone to make their higher education choices based on being able to gain some work experience at the end of their degree…

“The UK ranks first for international student satisfaction overall, compared to other major study destinations, but having a more attractive post-study work offer will open the UK up to even more international students”… said Vivienne Stern, Director, Universities UK International, which has been lobbying for such a visa for many years.

When viewed alongside the Morrison Government’s recent 30,000 cut to Australia’s permanent migrant intake, and students from India and Nepal being classified “high-risk” by the Department of Home Affairs (thus requiring greater scrutiny in visa applications), the boom in Indian international students looks like it is about to turn bust.

Unconventional Economist

Comments

  1. Bust seems a little optimistic. There’s a fairly large supply source. Although was it on MB that the analysis was the Indian middle class is about a twelfth the size of the Chinese.

  2. Thanks for the graph.

    It says that Portugal allows foreign “students” to stay for 12 months after “graduating”. But the population of Portugal is still shrinking.

    Mass immigration must be due to Jacinda giving out Kiwi passports – to exam cheats who are working for illegal wages – rather than the 12 month period.

  3. it’s not about post study work rights, it’s about two important things:
    – during-study working rights (australia is too expensive so without being able to work while studying 80% of current students would not be able to afford)
    – non-tertiary education options in Australia are abundant while providing same working rights and require no effort

    • Yep. The overseas student deluge is all due to the work rights they are granted during and at completion of their courses and the other great enticement … pathway to permanent residency.
      Their is no financial necessity for overseas students to be able to work here while studying, because it is a requirement that visa applicants wanting to study in Australia must have sufficient funds to provide for themselves and carers whilst studying here, before a study visa is granted.

      If the treacherous government really wanted to lower/abolish unemployment/underemployment, they only have to revoke work rights and permanent residency pathway for overseas students.
      The treacherous government doesn’t care one bit about the unemployed, the neoliberal governments just want to stop paying the welfare bill for the unemployment problem they created via massive Third World immigration, greatly fueled by the massive overseas student numbers.

  4. reusachtigeMEMBER

    The reason why is because we have great sandstone universities like the greatest of them all, Sydney University!

  5. Work rites whilst studying should be clearly stopped. They are here to study not run uber or delivered.

    This has destroyed australia for my son

    • reusachtigeMEMBER

      I disagree. It has kept prices down which is a great outcome. We need more if it not less. Especially around domestic help.

    • Foreigners should be banned from driving trucks here and also banned from working in government-funded jobs.

      • Foreigners should not be allowed to work here at all, unless it is a genuine specialized vocation which is practiced by a relatively few, because the vocations are few world wide or the foreign worker is here as a trainer for local workers.

  6. By contrast, universities across the United Kingdom are jumping for joy, predicting a new boom in enrolments of international students:

    It is little wonder that the last thing academics saw in Cambodia was a plastic bag being put over their heads as they were left in an open field.

    • blacktwin997MEMBER

      Yes, though his methods were a little excessive I can see where Pol Pot was coming from. Especially with the calibre of academics we are now cultivating here.

  7. Lenny Hayes for PM

    Wonder what will now happen to the IPO of that education consultant ECA ?. They appeared to be particularly leveraged to this game.

    Could be one or two ASX listed groups in a similar space that also cop it in the neck.

    • Tragic news, while I am still reeling from the unexpected news of WeWork’s IPO failure.

  8. If the Government can change the rules to wind it back, they can change the rules to wind it back up. Don’t expect this to last, the ScoMo Government will yield to the Universities protests.. no doubt in my mind.

  9. Don’t forget our foreign students also benefit from Australian universities world leading gold standard benefits of:
    1) Plentiful English requirement waivers
    2) Automatic exam passes even if you don’t write anything
    3) No individual effort needed due to group tasks
    4) Not actually having to turn up to uni
    5) No one policing limits on work hours for students

  10. kiwikarynMEMBER

    That is incorrect – NZ offers a three year visa for those with a Bachelors degree. I think that makes NZ the winner! And the one year work visa for crappy qualifications can be extended to two years if they actually get a job in their studied field (ie. not working as an Uber driver). Also its automatically two years for anyone working outside of Auckland.

  11. kiwikarynMEMBER

    That is incorrect – NZ offers a three year visa for those with a Bachelors degree. I think that makes NZ the winner! And the one year work visa for crappy qualifications can be extended to two years if they actually get a job in their studied field (ie. not working as an Uber driver). Also its automatically two years for anyone working outside of Auckland.