Visa holders vie for graduate jobs
Finding a job in highly competitive fields such as fashion design, sports
administration and dance teaching is set to become harder for domestic graduates
following moves by the Federal Government to make it much easier for overseas
students to remain in Australia after they graduate.
Previously, most overseas students had to return to their home countries
after graduation, but under changes to the Government's skilled migration laws
that came into effect this month many more will be able to stay in Australia for
an extra 18 months.
During that time they will have a compelling incentive to get jobs in their
industries: points towards permanent residency.
Analysts have estimated that as many as 30,000 former international students
might be competing for jobs, leaving domestic graduates as "collateral damage"
as they face a flood of people with strong incentives to accept low wages.
The changes were designed to make sure students who were given permanent
residency because they had studied in areas of skill shortages found employment
in those industries, by giving them a chance to improve their English skills or
get work experience.
But the Government has capitulated to pressure from educational institutions
and widened the categories eligible for the new 485 temporary visa, deviating
from the original recommendations by Bob Birrell, a Monash University
demographer commissioned to evaluate the previous policy.
This means that students who have studied to become fashion designers,
journalists or park rangers will be competing against local students for jobs,
as well as those who have taken courses in areas such as engineering and
accounting where Australia is in dire need of skilled workers.
Universities and many private colleges rely on international students and
warned the Federal Government when it mooted the changes that the more onerous
requirements for permanent residency might prompt students to study in another
But extending the temporary visa to more courses would allow educational
institutions to market it to students as an extra reason to come to
A labour market analyst, Bob Kinnaird, warned there was a risk the visa would
create oversupply in the graduate labour market, with some overseas graduates
undercutting wages or even working for nothing to qualify for permanent
Mr Kinnaird said Australian graduates would be most affected. "They've been
loaded with increased HECS fees … hit by reduced student assistance through
Austudy and now they're going to get a triple whammy through this 485 visa."
A spokesman for the Federal Minister for Education, Julie Bishop, said it was
a matter for the Immigration Minister, Kevin Andrews, who last night had not
responded to calls.
The Sydney Morning Herald