Claire Field says we should try again on international students and skilled migration

This time we must design, implement and regulate robustly to ensure the integrity of our international education sector


This week I examined the post-study work rights available to international students in Australia, Canada, the US, the UK and New Zealand.

As everyone working in international education will know, Canada has taken a welcoming approach to international students and migrants – including during COVID-19. International students in Canada are eligible for:

* eight months to three years’ post-study work depending on course of study, and

* an additional 18 months work on an Open Work Permit.

Migration options for international students are clearly identified on the Canadian government’s website “Find your path to permanent residence” and they have just announced permanent residency for 40,000 skilled graduates with relevant Canadian work experience in specific occupations.

Last year Australia told international students and skilled migrants to return home.

While our closed borders have served us well, employers in key industries are now grappling with the loss of skilled migrants. And so, when launching consultations for the development of the next Australian Strategy for International Education, Education Minister Alan Tudge asked:

“Can we use levers, including migration levers, to encourage more students to study in the areas where we know we have shortages? We do this to encourage students to study in areas outside the big capitals. Could it be extended?”

The last time Australia closely linked international education to skilled migration, we saw fraud and poor educational quality emerge in one part of the private VET sector. The problems were exacerbated by the fragmented regulatory approach then in operation (with responsibilities split across states, territories and the Commonwealth).

Australia should make the changes the minister is canvassing, but this time we must design, implement and regulate robustly to ensure the integrity of our international education sector.

David Riordan, former member of the Council for International Education, joined me on the latest episode of the podcast to discuss a raft of international education issues. Listen online or check your podcast feed.

Claire Field is the host of the ‘What now? What next? Insights into Australia’s tertiary education sector’ pod