This visa allows overseas students who have completed at least two years study in Australia to stay here for up to 18 months to gain the additional skills they need to apply for a permanent General Skilled Migration (GSM) Visa. Applicants must demonstrate at least 12 months Australian work experience.
The visa applicant must hold a degree, diploma or trade qualification from an Australian educational institution as a result of at least 2 years of full-time study while physically in Australia to qualify for this category.
In 2005-06, 12,116 overseas student graduates – mainly accountants – gained permanent residence, although 34% failed to demonstrate a competent grasp of English when tested.
The ‘reforms’ are to ensure higher standards of English are attained by students coming to Australia to study says Minister Julie Bishop and students wanting a GSM visa will now be required to have a stronger understanding of the English language and undertake relevant work experience.
Minister Kevin Andrews says:
“The changes would lead to better labour market outcomes for all GSM applicants and help deliver the skills Australian employers need.”
Previous research has shown that a third to a half of overseas students study in Australia as a way of securing permanent residency. As Director of the Centre for Population and Urban Research at Monash University, Bob Birrell says the new visa will make it harder for overseas students to get permanent residency and addresses perceptions that universities are becoming ‘visa factories’ for overseas students with poor English skills.
Students will need to stay here an extra year to improve their English or gain professional trade skills before they can obtain permanent residence. So this increases the relative cost of education in Australia for those seeking permanent residence and might make some other countries more attractive.
“Many [graduates]… will be seeking entry in the hospitality, restaurant, taxi driving, generally low skilled areas where they can pick up money quickly.”
These new visa arrangements for international students could drive down wages and conditions in some industries, as up to 20% more students will have the right to work while they improve their English or trade skills, putting pressure on labour markets that are already overcrowded. Wages for waiters and taxi drivers could fall as at least 30,000 overseas students could apply each year for the new temporary visas, which do not have work restrictions.
The ‘silver lining’ for these students would be that they could stay in Australia briefly on the temporary graduate visa and pay off some of their university debt working in Australia before returning home.
Dr Birrell expects the number of overseas students enrolling in Australian universities to drop as a result of the changes. A reduction in annual university revenue will impact on the whole university system and non-international students.
You may have read the report of 17 year-old who took a job as a dishwasher at popular Perth restaurant Barocco and hours later had a new job as an apprentice chef. In WA today – with an unemployment rate of 2.7% – employers can’t afford to ‘muck around when they find good staff’. Barocco owner Michael Papotto said he saw something special in this young man. He was ”quick and fast and if you find someone good, you try to keep them.” Other tactics to keep staff:
Hospitality Magazine reports that the Australian Hotels Association, Tourism Council of WA, and Hospitality and Tourism Industry Training Council will share in about $200,000 to fund separate practical projects under the Government’s new Workforce Partnership Program.