Queensland closes skilled migration for 2018-19

Queensland has closed its state nomination program for 2018-19.

The state’s official migration website, Business and Skilled Migration Queensland (BMSQ) says the state has now closed state nomination for all business and skilled visas (submitted through SkillSelect) from 8 February 2019.

“No further invitations will be issued from this date. BSMQ will continue to process applications which have been already invited for state nomination prior to this date until our quota is exhausted.”
The program will reopen in the new financial year which begins on July 1st, 2019.

“BSMQ will re-open the State Nomination Program in the new financial year. Please submit a new EOI after the new occupation lists have been released in July. We will not select any submitted EOI’s prior to this time”, the website said.

Queensland runs the skilled nominated migration (190) program in order to attract highly skilled people in a range of occupations to contribute to NSW skills needs.

According to the state’s website, “This is a point-tested visa for skilled workers and postgraduate alumni who wish to live and work in Queensland permanently. The Queensland postgraduate degree stream offers streamlined conditions for Masters and PhD graduates from a Queensland-based university.”
Another program, Skilled Nominated (Provisional) visa (subclass 489), is a 4-year point-tested visa “which leads to permanent residency and requires nominated skilled workers to be employed and live in regional Queensland.


Changes to Skilled Occupation Lists Added to MLTSSL

Changes to Skilled Occupation Lists
Added to MLTSSL

Applicable Instruments: LIN 19/047; LIN 19/048; LIN 19/049; LIN 19/051

Telecommunications network planner (ANZSCO code 313213)
Pressure welder (ANZSCO code 322312)
Environmental Manager (ANZSCO code 139912)
Musician (Instrumental) (ANZSCO code 211213)
Statistician (ANZSCO code 224113)
Economist (ANZSCO code 224311)
Mining Engineer (excluding Petroleum) (ANZSCO code 233611)
Petroleum Engineer (ANZSCO code 233612)
Engineering Professionals nec (ANZSCO code 233999)
Chemist (ANZSCO code 234211)
Food Technologist (ANZSCO code 234212)
Environmental Consultant (ANZSCO code 234312)
Environmental Research Scientist (ANZSCO code 234313)
Environmental Scientists nec (ANZSCO code 234399)
Geophysicist (ANZSCO code 234412)
Hydrogeologist (ANZSCO code 234413)
Life Scientist (General) (ANZSCO code 234511)
Biochemist (ANZSCO code 234513)
Biotechnologist (ANZSCO code 234514)
Botanist (ANZSCO code 234515)
Marine Biologist (ANZSCO code 234516)
Microbiologist (ANZSCO code 234517)
Zoologist (ANZSCO code 234518)
Life Scientists nec (ANZSCO code 234599)
Conservator (ANZSCO code 234911)
Metallurgist (ANZSCO code 234912)
Meteorologist (ANZSCO code 234913)
Natural and Physical Science Professionals nec (ANZSCO code 234999)
University Lecturer (ANZSCO code 242111)
Multimedia Specialist (ANZSCO code 261211)
Software and Applications Programmers nec (ANZSCO code 261399)
Horse Trainer (ANZSCO code 361112)
Physicist – no longer restricted to medical physicist
Added to STSOL

Applicable Instrument LIN 19/048

visual arts and crafts professionals (nec) (ANZSCO code 211499)
textile, clothing and footwear mechanic (ANZSCO code 323215)
watch and clock maker and repairer (ANZSCO code 323316)
chemical plant operator (ANZSCO code 399211)
library technician (ANZSCO code 399312)
Moved from STSOL to MLTSSL

Applicable Instruments – LIN 19/047; LIN 19/048; LIN 19/049; LIN 19/050

arts administrator or manager (ANZSCO code 139911)
dancer or choreographer (ANZSCO code 211112)
music director (ANZSCO code 211212)
artistic director (ANZSCO code 212111)
tennis coach (ANZSCO code 452316)
footballer (ANZSCO code 452411)
Removed from STSOL

Applicable Instrument LIN 19/050

Visual Arts and Crafts Professionals (ANZSCO code 211499)
Textile, Clothing and Footwear Mechanic (ANZSCO code 323215)
Watch and Clock Maker and Repairer (ANZSCO code 323316)
Chemical Plant Operator (ANZSCO code 399211)
Library Technician (ANZSCO code 399312)
Arts Administrator or Manager (ANZSCO code 139911)
Dancer or Choreographer (ANZSCO code 211112)
Music Director (ANZSCO code 211212)
Artistic Director (ANZSCO code 212111)
Footballer (ANZSCO code 452411)
Aquaculture Farmer (ANZSCO code 121111)
Cotton Grower (ANZSCO code 121211)
Fruit or Nut Grower (ANZSCO code 121213)
Grain, Oilseed or Pasture Grower (ANZSCO code 121214)
Mixed Crop Farmer (ANZSCO code 121216)
Sugar Cane Grower (ANZSCO code 121217)
Crop Farmers nec (ANZSCO code 121299)
Beef Cattle Farmer (ANZSCO code 121312)
Dairy Cattle Farmer (ANZSCO code 121313)
Mixed Livestock Farmer (ANZSCO code 121317)
Pig Farmer (ANZSCO code 121318)
Sheep Farmer (ANZSCO code 121322)
Livestock Farmers nec (ANZSCO code 121399)
Mixed Crop and Livestock Farmer (ANZSCO code 121411)
Dentist (ANZSCO code 252312)
Anaesthetist (ANZSCO code 253211)
Tennis Coach (ANZSCO code 4542316)
Added to Regional Occupation List

Applicable Instrument LIN 19/048

deer farmer (ANZSCO code 121314)
goat farmer (ANZSCO code 121315)
Added to Regional Occupation List, removed from STSOL

Applicable Instruments: LIN 19/048;

aquaculture farmer (ANZSCO code 121111)
cotton grower (ANZSCO code 121211)
fruit or nut grower (ANZSCO code 121213)
grain, oilseed or pasture grower (Aus) / field crop grower (NZ) (ANZSCO code 121214)
mixed crop farmer (ANZSCO code 121216)
sugar cane grower (ANZSCO code 121217)
crop farmers (nec) (ANZSCO code 121299)
beef cattle farmer (ANZSCO code 121312)
dairy cattle farmer (ANZSCO code 121313)
mixed livestock farmer (ANZSCO code 121317)
pig farmer (ANZSCO code 121318)
sheep farmer (ANZSCO code 121322)
livestock farmers (nec) (ANZSCO code 121399)
mixed crop and livestock farmer (ANZSCO code 121411)
dentist (ANZSCO code 252312)
anaesthetist (ANZSCO code 253211)
Removed from Regional Occupation List moved to MLTSSL

Applicable Instruments: LIN 19/047; LIN 19/049

arts administrator or manager (ANZSCO code 139911)
dancer or choreographer (ANZSCO code 211112)
music director (ANZSCO code 211212)
artistic director (ANZSCO code 212111)
tennis coach (ANZSCO code 452316)
footballer (ANZSCO code 452411)
telecommunications network planner (ANZSCO code 313213)
pressure welder (ANZSCO code 322312)
Occupations with added conditions

Applicable Instruments: LIN 19/047 (SC 187); LIN 19/048 (SC 482); LIN 19/049 (SC 186)

The following medical practitioner occupations now require a Health Workforce Certificate for the position and occupation to be presented with the nomination application

general practitioner (ANZSCO code 253111)
medical practitioners (nec) (ANZSCO code 253999)
resident medical officer (ANZSCO code 253112)
Applicability conditions added/changed

Condition 25

imposes a minimum salary of $120,000 pa for footballers
replaces Condition 23 for ship’s masters and gas or petroleum operators
Condition 26

replaces Conditions 23 for recruitment consultants on the STSOL and reduces the annual salary required to $80,000

Government relaxes visa rules to help farmers and football clubs

Visa rule changes will allow skilled foreign workers hired for seasonal work on farms to stay in Australia for up to four years.

Sponsored sportsmen and artists will also be able to get new eight-year visas, under the changes announced by the Immigration Minister David Coleman on Monday.

The changes to the Regional Occupation List, which build on the Working Holiday Maker visa program and the Seasonal Worker Program, are designed to target workforce shortages.

“We want Australians filling Australian jobs but when this isn’t possible action is needed to ensure farmers can continue to operate,” Mr Coleman said in a statement.
John Fairley, who runs a dairy farm in Picton, south-west of Sydney, told SBS News there was an issue but said it’s most acute in regional areas.

“We can find good enough labour around here because we’re close to a big city but if you’re (far) out west it would be a challenge finding skilled labour.”
Gracia Kusuma, from New South Wales Farmers, said changes will entice more skilled overseas workers to come and work in Australia.

“Previously these roles were only in the short-term shortage list, which means that the visa was only available for two years. Yes, it’s renewable, but for somebody who needs to uproot their entire family to a foreign country, it doesn’t provide the certainty, to give them the motivation to want to move.”

But some in the industry said limitations remain, particularly in areas such as horticulture, where there is a demand for less-skilled workers.
Dr Joanna Howe, from the University of Adelaide, co-authored a three-year-study into labour shortages in the horticultural sector.

“Today’s announcement doesn’t actually do anything to help those farmers because they need pickers, packers and graders.”

The study’s findings revealed that 40 per cent of farmers have not been able to recruit enough workers at some point over the past five years.
In January, the Morrison government loosened restrictions on two schemes that bring temporary farm workers into Australia, lifting the cap on the 462 visa for working backpackers from particular countries.

Under the latest changes, migrants hired for agriculture work will get four-year working visas but must remain in a specified region and work in some type of farming.

Sponsored artists and sportspeople, including footballers and tennis coaches, are also among eight professions added to the long-term skills list.

Mr Coleman said the changes are aimed at helping Australian football clubs attract elite international talent and develop Australia’s competitiveness on the international stage.

“These changes recognise Australia’s passion for sports and the arts,” Mr Coleman said.

“Having access to highly skilled professionals helps to develop local talent and facilitate skills and knowledge transfer.”


International education boom predicted, despite decline in Chinese students

International education boom predicted, despite decline in Chinese students

New analysis predicts Australian universities will continue to enjoy “booming” demand from international students despite a forecast drop from China, which dominates the market.

While Australia is predicted to this year overtake Britain and become second only to the US as the most popular destination for international students, the analysis notes the dangers of over-reliance on China and the opportunities to diversify into other countries.
The report, published at the end of last year by Austrade under a collaboration with global education platform Studyportals, said Australia is on track to reach an ambitious target of 720,000 international enrolments by 2025, with the country seen as offering safety, quality degrees and promising employment prospects.

The explosive growth of the international student numbers at universities over recent years has led to concerns about foreign students being treated as “cash cows”, the impact on education standards, and the potential for political complications stemming from the heavy reliance on China.

But, as government funding has been squeezed, the massive revenue from foreign students has become increasingly critical for the sector.
“Australia is showing booming interest and is continuing to consolidate its position as a strong international education player,” concluded the new report, which analysed interest in the programs aggregated on Studyportals platforms.
The report noted the dependence on Chinese numbers has emerged as a “not ideal” challenge. Chinese students currently account for 30 per cent of all students.

“However, as Chinese outbound student numbers began to level off around 2013, the current forecasts indicate that the number of college-aged students in China will decline by about 40 per cent between 2010 and 2025,” it said.

“While Australian universities are very reliant on China, where the numbers of college-aged students are flattening, we do see a strong potential in recruiting students from other key sending countries which are showing a strong interest in Australia.

“While their numbers can never fully replace the reliance on Chinese students, they can help universities protect against possible dips or slowdowns from Chinese students.”
The analysis found large spikes in interest from India, Sri Lanka, Britain, the US and Canada for Australian undergraduate courses.

It found the disciplines offering the greatest opportunities for growth were agriculture and forestry, medicine and health, hospitality, leisure and sports, engineering and technology, and applied sciences and professions.

The growth of the sector in Australia is challenged to an extent by increased competition from providers in Canada, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden and some Asian countries, including China.



Premier intervenes as international students’ English fails to make the grade

International students who speak little English are struggling to keep up with their peers at Australian universities, prompting the Victorian government to call for a review of entry requirements.

Premier Daniel Andrews has written a letter to the National Tertiary Education Union promising to take up the issue of English entry standards with the federal government.
Acting Minister for Higher Education James Merlino said the situation was unfair on international students and teachers.

“International students are a vital part of Victoria’s education system but it’s concerning that some students are enrolled in courses without adequate English language skills to complete them,” he said.

Academics, tutors and students say some international students are struggling to understand instructions in class, complete assignments and communicate with other students.
They say English standards have been set too low and can be bypassed by enrolling in bridging courses.

The National Tertiary Education Union’s Victorian president Nic Kimberley, who has tutored and lectured at many universities and works at RMIT, said many international students at Australian universities lacked the English proficiency needed to succeed.
“This is something that should concern everyone,” he said. “If they fail, they have to repeat and there is often a lot of shame. We don’t want to see international students fail.”

Mr Kimberley said he often received emails from international students begging him to increase their grade to a pass.
“It is incredibly stressful. As someone who teaches students, you do feel very guilty about it because of the high stakes.”

He said while many international students had a strong grasp of the English language, local students tried to avoid working with them for group projects.

The union is calling for a review of the English standards required for student visas and those set by universities for different courses. It’s also pushing for more English language support for international students.
Federal government rules require those wanting a student visa to achieve a score of at least 5.5 in the International English Language Testing System. This test gives students a score out of 9 for listening, reading, writing and speaking and most universities require students to receive a score of between 6 and 7.

But students can also receive a student visa with a score of 4.5 – which means they have a limited or modest grasp of English – if they enrol in a 20-week intensive English course before embarking on their university course.
While they must pass the course, they do not have to resit the international English test.

About one-quarter of all international students enter Australian universities via this pathway.

The peak body for overseas students, the Council of International Students Australia, is backing the calls for higher English entry standards.

The council’s national public relations officer, Manfred Mlestin, said while fewer international students would be accepted into courses, potentially eroding the country’s $31.9 billion a year international student industry, the quality of graduates would improve.

“If a student doesn’t understand what a teacher is saying, how can they finish their assignments?” he asks.
When John Chen* arrived in Melbourne on a student visa, he couldn’t order food in English.

“I would just use pointing, it was horrific,” he said.

The Chinese student spent 18 months at Trinity College in the hope of improving his language skills.

At university, he struggled to understand his lecturers and write essays, and barely spoke in tutorials. He switched from arts to science at the end of his first semester, hoping it would be easier.

While it wasn’t easier, he eventually improved his English by watching Youtube.
Chinese student Adam Zhao* said he failed a subject last semester because of his language difficulties.

He was working on a group assignment with three native English speakers who struggled to understand him.

While Adam has been in Australia for five years and completed two years of high school here, he still struggles with the language barrier.

His communication difficulties have affected his mental health, leaving him feeling isolated.

“I felt like I should be able to communicate, but I couldn’t,” he said.
A recent report by the Coroner considered the extreme stress experienced by some international students, highlighting the case of a 24-year-old Chinese international student who died in a fall that was later ruled to be suicide. He was believed to be suffering from depression and struggling to understand his English-language course.

Universities Australia chief executive Catriona Jackson said Australian universities set English language requirements that were comparable to other world-leading education sectors.

“Many universities have standards for particular courses that go above the minimum standards set by the student visa,” she said.

She said students who passed bridging courses had the English skills required to complete a higher education qualification and succeed.

Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan said it was the responsibility of universities to ensure that the students they enrol had the language skills to participate fully in their education.
“You can judge the quality of Australia’s sector by the number of international students that we attract,” he said.

*Names have been changed.

Student placements

Student placements
What is a vocational placement?
Further information
Contact us
Download the fact sheet:

Student placements (PDF 154.3KB)
Vocational placements provide students with the opportunity to apply the theory and skills they learned while studying in a professional workplace.

Under these arrangements students can gain the skills they need to transition successfully from study to work, while giving industry the opportunity to enrich student learning experiences and increase the number of work-ready graduates.

Vocational placements that meet the definition under the Fair Work Act 2009 (the FW Act) are lawfully unpaid. Students completing vocational placements are not considered to be employees and therefore are not entitled to the minimum wage nor other entitlements provided under the FW Act.

What is a vocational placement?
Under the FW Act, a vocational placement is lawfully unpaid if it meets all the following criteria:

There must be a placement. This can be arranged by the educational or training institution, or a student may initiate the placement with an individual business directly, in line with the requirements of their course.
There must be no entitlement to pay for the work the student undertakes. Where a student’s contract with the host business or organisation entitles them to receive money for the work they perform, the vocational placement will likely have turned into an employment relationship. Similarly, work arrangements covered by industrial awards or agreements are not vocational placements.
The placement must be done as a requirement of an education or training course. The placement must be a required component of the course as a whole, or of an individual subject or module of the course. It doesn’t matter whether that subject is compulsory or an elective chosen by the student.
The placement must be one that is approved. The institution delivering the course which provides for the placement must be authorised under an Australian, state or territory law or an administrative arrangement of the Commonwealth or a state or territory to do so. Courses offered at universities, TAFE colleges and schools (whether public or private) will all satisfy this requirement, as will bodies authorised to offer training courses under state or territory legislation.
When all of the above criteria are satisfied, hosts are not required to pay students entitlements under the FW Act. However, a host may elect to provide payment(s) at their discretion and under no obligation.

If the placement doesn’t meet all of the above criteria, it won’t be a vocational placement under the FW Act. However, this doesn’t automatically mean that the person is an employee and entitled to payment. The next step is to determine whether or not the person is in an employment relationship.

For more information on determining whether or not an employment relationship exists see our Unpaid Work Fact Sheet

Example 1
Katrina is in her 3rd year of a nursing degree. As part of her course, Katrina is required to complete a minimum of 4 weeks’ work experience with a registered hospital in her state in order to graduate. Katrina approaches her local hospital as they have a pre-existing relationship with her university and have regular student placements. The placement is authorised by her university, and Katrina understands it is a learning exercise and that she won’t be paid. As the arrangement meets the definition of a vocational placement under the FW Act, it can be unpaid.

Example 2
Jayne is in her final year of a mechanical engineering degree and has completed her formal class studies. As a requirement to graduate, Jayne has to organise professional engineering work experience at a business for 12 weeks. While Jayne has to organise the placement herself, the University has strict criteria about needing to assess an employer to ensure her vocational placement provides the relevant learning environment, and gives final sign-off on the placement. As this arrangement meets the definition of a vocational placement under the FW Act, it can be unpaid.

If the business decides to get Jayne to sign an employment contract and pay her wages for her work, it may turn the placement into an employment relationship. If an employment relationship is created, Jayne is entitled to at least the legal minimum rate of pay for the type of work she is performing.

Example 3
Mitchell is choosing his elective units for the following year’s study as part of his undergraduate degree. One of the electives is a 3 month unpaid placement organised by the university at a host business that provides a structured learning experience related to his degree. This placement counts as credit towards meeting his total course requirement. Because the elective forms part of his course, Mitchell’s placement meets the definition of a vocational placement under the FW Act. As this arrangement meets the definition of a vocational placement under the FW Act, it can be unpaid.

While the FW Act does not provide entitlements to students doing vocational placements, there may still be obligations in other legislation, such as those about work health and safety or discrimination that apply to them


Corrupt migration agents swindling ‘desperate’ customers face crackdown

A widespread problem of corrupt migration agents  poses a “high risk” threat, and may require greater investigative powers to combat, according to the Department of Home Affairs.

Disciplinary investigations by Home Affairs found some migration agents have swindled hundreds of thousands of dollars from desperate clients, while others regularly falsify documents to obtain visas which should never have been issued.

Newly released findings from the probes show eight migration agents were suspended or barred from the profession in the final two months of last year alone, and 34 faced penalties in 2018 for inappropriate conduct.

Assistant Home Affairs Minister Linda Reynolds said she would “not tolerate this kind of behaviour by migration agents who think it is acceptable to defraud clients”.

In one of the worst of the findings, Destiny Visa migration agent Maryam Shahi was found to have required a $50,000 “bond” to obtain a visitor visa for an Iranian citizen in November 2017 despite no bond being required nor requested by Home Affairs for the application

Ms Shahi later said she had sought the bond because another migration agent in Tehran had previously helped a client obtained a visitor visa, but that family had refused to return to Iran after the trip and applied for protection, harming his “livelihood”.

In another complaint against Ms Shahi, lodged in October last year, a client known as Ms EGS was also asked for a $30,000 deposit to “guarantee the grant of the visitor visa”.

No application was ever lodged with Home Affairs, and at the time of the complaint, Ms Shahi – who has since had her license cancelled – still owed Ms EGS $9000 of the bond deposit paid.

There were at least five other occasions, according to the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority, that Ms Shahi was paid for visa services – once more than $9000 – where no application was every received by Home Affairs and despite the “desperate circumstances” of her client


Overseas students: Raise the standards for all our students

It is no surprise that foreign students lack English language skills (The Age, 23/1). Australia’s minimum visa standards are lower than those in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom – not as Universities Australia chief executive Catriona Jackson asserts, “comparable to other world-leading education sectors”.

The recent report by Bob Birrell and Katherine Letts at The Australian Population Research Institute – “Australia’s higher education overseas student industry: in a precarious state” – shows clearly how the Group of Eight universities lower their entry standards because they cannot afford to forgo the huge fees paid by overseas students, who now make up close to 40per cent of all new entrants. That changes the whole nature of university culture and the experience offered.

The Age’s report highlights the problems for foreign students struggling to cope, but ignores the impact on quality and fairness for those with an adequate grasp of English. Ask local university students about it and they will tell you how badly it affects the quality of their courses: lower expectations in class, lower standards in assessing grades, group assignments where the same grade is given to every student despite lack of participation or understanding, and limited student interaction and discussion. The solution is not just bridging courses; it is to raise the standards and insist on higher standards for all.

Taking students’ money under false pretences

I am a nurse working in aged care. I graduated from RMIT University in 2004 and worked for it for a year or so, assisting on a casual basis in laboratories with students in the city and at the Bundoora campus. The international students were enrolled at Bundoora and the classes were chaotic.

The students who could not understand English were frustrated, bored and disruptive. I became very disillusioned and felt the universities were just eager to take the money.

I have also witnessed the lot of people on student visas in the workplace. Many carers in the residential aged care sector are studying. Most study nursing but all face the same problem on graduation. Their English does not meet industry standards and they will not get a job here. As far as I can see, the tertiary institutions are taking money under false pretences.

Roger Hyland, Richmond

Pressure on students with grade 4-standard English

I am an EAL (English as an additional language) teacher who prepares some students for the International English Language Testing System. I totally agree that the current visa system of allowing overseas students to come to Australia to study at tertiary level with an IELTS score of 4.5 is wrong. This is perhaps about the equivalent of grade 4 English. We then allow these students to do a 20-week course and expect them to be able to study at tertiary level. It is ridiculous.

David Everard, Nunawading

Struggling to meet families’ ‘crippling expectations’

So international students are “failing to make the grade on language skills”. I have little sympathy for their plight. Proposed changes to assist them are based almost exclusively on an economic argument – they make a significant contribution to the Australian economy and we are willing to erode our standards to accommodate them. Coaching Chinese students taught me what an incredible and, at times, unrealistic work ethic they brought to their studies. Too often they struggled to meet the crippling expectations of their families.

Still, our students get it tough too. Many of them, having just completed a gruelling year of VCE, have to immediately front up to eight weeks of “summer school” in order to secure the score required for entrance into their tertiary course of choice. Instead of watering down our university standards, why don’t we make it mandatory for our overseas students to do a similar “summer school” before they commence their tertiary


Noel Butterfield, Montmorency




It’s still worth it for overseas students to study in Australia, but universities could be doing more

It’s still worth it for overseas students to study in Australia, but universities could be doing more

For years, it has been predicted the increasing number of students flowing into the graduate jobs market would result in falling salaries, underemployment, and students taking on second and third degrees to get an edge in the competitive jobs marketplace.

But what of students who spend upwards of A$200,000 on obtaining a degree in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States or Europe? Many students come to Australia from overseas and pay full market rates – A$100,000 is a very conservative estimate for fees alone, with costs of living on top of that – for undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.

Until now, we’ve known relatively little about how they fare when they return home and if there’s been a valuable return on their substantial investment. New research from the International Alumni Job Network (IAJN) reveals the return on investment for an international education is still positive for international students, and they’re generally also positive about the experience.

But it’s in the best interest of individual universities to actively work with businesses in home countries to help secure job prospects for graduates. Some universities currently do this, but most do not.

How many students study abroad?

According to the Institute of International Education, each year over 5 million students study abroad. Of them, more than a million go to the US. Australia is currently the third-largest destination country, but federal education minister Dan Tehan recently predicted Australia will overtake the UK in 2019.

Each year, the numbers increase in a seemingly unstoppable flow of students seeking an overseas degree as the passport to a better life. In Australia alone, the figures are breathtaking, with a 17% increase in just one year to be now valued at A$34 billion to the Australian economy.

Meanwhile media reports – and common sense – suggest the graduate employment market in some source countries is contracting, due to a number of factors. These include increasing inflows of internationally educated graduates, and improvements in higher education provision at home.

The China Daily, for example, reported last year that in 2007, 1.44 million students left China to study overseas, with 440,000 returning after graduation. In 2016, 5.45 million students left and 4.33 million returned home. Another 666,000 were set to return home in 2017 and compete for jobs with the 7.97 million freshly minted graduates from Chinese universities.

Return on investment

The IAJN survey covered alumni who originated from and returned to eight Asian regions: China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Respondents studied in Australia, the US, the UK, Canada, New Zealand or Europe.

The survey found, thankfully, the vast majority of students were more than satisfied with their international experience. In general, Indonesians were the most positive about their international experience (92%) and Indians the least positive (75%). Some 86% of Thai students thought international education was important, compared with 64% of Indians.

When it comes to satisfaction with return on investment, things get a little skewed. More than 70% of returned alumni were satisfied with the return on investment, with the exception of Indonesia (67%) and India (a lowly 46%).

Obviously, the reasons are far from straightforward. We hypothesise the responses are based on where students are getting their pre-enrolment information. We suspect using agents and university websites as the primary source of information may be too steeped in marketing hype and not enough in reality. By contrast, students who received their information by word of mouth from family, friends and other alumni were much more realistic in their expectations of studying abroad.

Graduate incomes

This study used US dollars to calculate the average wage of returned graduates because it’s the best benchmark.

In terms of income, the story is also mostly a positive one. While half of all returnees earned less than US$1,000 per month (A$1,411 per month or A$19,930 per year) in their first job, 33% reported earning more than US$4,001 per month (or A$67,729 per year).

Returns on investment depend very much on where students come from and how their earnings on return compare with their locally educated compatriots. For example, the average monthly wage of a Vietnamese-educated local is just US$175 a month and US$343 for Indonesians. On the other hand, locally educated graduates from Singapore and Hong Kong earn on average US$1,966 and US$1,722 per month respectively.

As expected, earnings growth accelerates over time. Some 40% of returned alumni earned more than US$10,000 per month (A$170,000 per year). Although we must take account of the fact some alumni responding to the survey gained their degrees more than two decades ago and were part of a relatively elite group who travelled overseas for study at that time.

On the downside, 30% of PhD graduates reported currently earning less than US$500 per month. One would assume this is a result of gender and age (such as for child bearing women). But within three to seven years, most graduates witness healthy salary increases, also as one would expect.

Attitudes towards Australian Go8 universities

The IAJN was also able to break down attitudes of students who attended a Group of Eight university (UWA, Monash, UNSW, ANU, the University of Melbourne, UQ, the University of Adelaide, and the University of Sydney). Responses to other individual universities were too small to be meaningful. According to the survey, there was little financial benefit from studying at a Go8 university (compared to a non-Go8 university) for a first job. The ANU provided the best returns on investment over time.

Monash and UNSW had the highest satisfaction with return on investment at 75%. Sydney alumni also downplayed the role their international education had on their subsequent career (69% satisfaction compared to 84% at ANU and Monash). The dynamics behind these sorts of statistics will be up to individual universities to analyse and understand.

But the survey found Sydney University had the highest rate (15%) of alumni earning more than US$10,000 a month in their first job. Somewhat ironically, Sydney also registered the lowest satisfaction with return on investment (62%) – perhaps a culmination of high fees and the cost of living in Sydney.

Obviously, it’s in the interests of individual universities to actively work with businesses in home countries to help secure job prospects for graduates. The power of word of mouth and social networks should not be undermined.

The value of the international education sector might have hit an all-time high, but there’s pressure on individual universities to do their best to ensure graduates get a genuine return on their massive investment in their education abroad.


One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts wants migration more than halved

One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts wants migration more than halved

One Nation’s lead Senate candidate Malcolm Roberts believes Australia’s migrant intake should be radically slashed to just 70,000 per year.

The current migration program’s target figure was technically 190,000, although there were only 162,000 permanent visas approved in the 12 months ended June 30.

“I have done the research in detail but that’s what we’re going with, but I’m not making this a party issue and there are others who say – around 70,000, which is a zero net,” he told the LibertyFest conference in Brisbane on Saturday.

Tasked with debating “Immigration, how to draw the line”, Mr Roberts said he wanted immigration, not “colonisation”.

Mr Roberts – who was born in India to a Welsh father and Australian mother – said he was “not an immigrant”.

He then immediately followed that statement with: “Although I am an immigrant because the Australian citizenship standards have changed so much in the last 140 years.”

“So I share with you [the other speaker on stage, Satya Marar] some immigrant status in that I was born overseas but my mother was Australian, but I had to become an Australian at the age of 19, so it’s somewhat confusing,” Mr Roberts said.

Last year, the High Court found Mr Roberts was a citizen of the United Kingdom by descent at the time of his nomination.

He was forced out of Parliament due to section 44 of the constitution which effectively excludes dual citizens from being federal politicians.

Mr Roberts said the government should be “fixed” before anything else.

“Don’t fiddle with immigration until that’s fixed, fix up government, get back to our constitution and then start wondering about some of the other issues because the key to western civilisation, the key to society is freedom, and the key to our society is at stake right now,” he said.

However, Mr Roberts said immigration was about “who we sit down next to on the train, who we can sit down next to on an aeroplane”.

“We have to decide who comes in here, that’s our government, we use values-based immigration, so it’s not about just economics, because the hip pocket is appealed to by many governments,” he said.

In her maiden 1996 speech, One Nation leader Senator Pauline Hanson argued most Australians wanted the country’s immigration policy to be radically reviewed as the nation was in danger of being “swamped by Asians”.

She updated her rhetoric to “swamped by Muslims” during her first speech in 2016.

Mr Roberts also said taxation had become a monster which was destroying Australia.

“It is the most destructive system in this country,” he said.

Mr Roberts will vie to return to the Senate at the next federal election.

The two-day LibertyFest conference hosted an eclectic group of speakers and attendees, including LNP senators, a sex therapist, Queensland’s chief entrepreneur, free speech advocates and members of right-wing think tanks.