Unemployment surge due to Australia’s foreign student influx: Immigration expert

The forecast regarding a rise in unemployment could lead the government to reduce student entry numbers and redirect potential immigrants to better job prospects in Canada, the UK, and the US, warned Abul Rizvi, an immigration expert. Many of these prospective entrants have used study visas as a way to enter the workforce.

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Australia’s international student and graduate population has swelled to a historic high of nearly one million, prompting warnings that the softening economy could leave young workers vulnerable and hurt universities.

The forecast regarding a rise in unemployment could lead the government to reduce student entry numbers and redirect potential immigrants to better job prospects in Canada, the UK, and the US, warned Abul Rizvi, an immigration expert. Many of these prospective entrants have used study visas as a way to enter the workforce.

Visa applications for international students hit a record high in May, with 46,000 applicants. The number of foreign students in Australia is on track to surpass the pre-pandemic record of 633,000 soon, with estimates suggesting there are 350,000 people on graduate visas and another 100,000 on COVID visas that allow them to stay and work unlimited hours for up to 12 months.

Rizvi projects student enrollment to reach a record high of 700,000 to 750,000 by year’s end.

International students in hard-to-fill jobs such as hospitality and cleaning may not be affected by rising unemployment, labor market economists say. But it’s a different story for graduates with limited work experience, who could be the first to go in cost-cutting measures.

Before the last three crashes in the student market, conditions were present that could have been addressed to make student intake more sustainable, according to Mr Rizvi. These included: a rapid increase of student visa holders amid a robust labor market and weak regulation; fraud among prospective applicants; rising numbers of low-quality courses enabling little study and much work; and migration agents misinforming students on the cost of living and pathways to residency.

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles said the government’s efforts over the past year had addressed visa backlogs and wait times left by the former Liberal government. He also noted plans to reform the system through the migration review and partnerships with higher education providers.

A deal between the government, unions, and the aged care sector in Australia has created a new pathway for temporary migrants to gain permanent residence if they complete a short course in aged care and work in the same job for two years. The agreement could help resolve one of the country’s most difficult labor shortages.

NAB economist Taylor Nugent noted that international students, the largest group of temporary migrants, have mitigated skill shortages and bolstered population growth in Australia and have also increased consumer demand. 

Nathan Yasis

Nathan Yasis

Nathan studied information technology and secondary education in college. He dabbled in and taught creative writing and research to high school students for three years before settling in as a digital journalist.

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Nathan Yasis

Nathan Yasis

Nathan studied information technology and secondary education in college. He dabbled in and taught creative writing and research to high school students for three years before settling in as a digital journalist.

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