Earlier this week, Professor Suresh Cuganesan – deputy dean at the University of Sydney Business School – called for the federal government to give international students even greater post-study work rights as an incentive to encourage greater enrolment numbers:
From the outset we need to signal that Australia is focused on the longer-term wellbeing and employability of our international students…
Any changes need to reflect our focus on building the long-term employability of our international students so they can be successful well into the future…
We should also address the sizeable challenge that international students face in getting work experience in their chosen fields…
This is where the government should lead a ‘Team Australia’ approach where leading businesses and start-ups formally partner with universities to offer international students more work experience opportunities, both during and after their studies.
Only days later, Monash University’s Centre for Youth Policy and Education Practice has released a report arguing that Australian graduates are struggling to gain secure employment and decent pay:
The value of higher education in launching young Australians into the career of their choice is being eroded as universities churn out record numbers of graduates who are increasingly forced to take on low-paid, insecure work…
Young people face “the breakdown of a long-held assumption that higher education qualifications will lead to desirable and secure work”…
Young people are increasingly concentrated in fields that are “seasonal, part-time, casual, low-wage and insecure”.
“The link between attainment of higher education qualifications and the movement into certain professions is not happening in a linear way any more,” centre director and report author Lucas Walsh said…
The link between post-school study and a higher income is also eroding, the report shows.
Higher education participation rates have risen by 41 per cent in the past decade… At the same time, the “earning premium” of a bachelor’s degree has shrunk, from 39 per cent in 2005 to 27 per cent by 2018.
As I noted on Tuesday, following Professor Cuganesan’s recommendations would subrogate the interests of Australian students and deprive them of crucial job opportunities. It is the polar opposite of a “Team Australia” approach.
Instead of pandering to international students, our universities and governments should be “building the long-term employability of our
international local students so they can be successful well into the future”, as well as addressing “the sizeable challenge that international local students face in getting work experience in their chosen fields”? That’s what “Team Australia” would do.
Interestingly, the collapse in international student numbers since the beginning of the pandemic:
Has been a big driver of the sharp decline in youth unemployment and underemployment, despite more young Australians participating in the labour market:
Who would have thought? Not having to compete for jobs with hundreds of thousands of foreign students and graduates improves employment opportunities for younger Australians. May wonders never cease.
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