Speaking with Sky News, Hanson said international students should be self-supported, and work rights should be eradicated.
“I think that we need to look at the student visas,” she said in the interview.
“Ironically, politicians like Pauline Hanson are happy to attend New Colombo Plan scholarship award nights”
“Yes, it does prop up our economy, yes we do get a lot of money out of it, but what I have a concern about, these people are supposed to be self-supporting when they come into Australia, but they are given the opportunity to do 20-hours work a week.”
Hanson, whose “One Nation” party currently holds three crucial votes needed to pass legislation in the upper house, said she would push the government to reform work rights for international students. But she added the stance did not form part of her party’s immigration policy at this time.
IEAA chief executive Phil Honeywood said Hanson’s remarks ignored the significant contribution international education makes to both Australia’s economy and jobs market.
“Unfortunately, every western democracy has elected politicians who see benefit in encouraging negative discourse about overseas migrants and, in this case, full-fee paying international students,” he said.
“These politicians conveniently overlook the fact that international education now employs 130,000 Australians and is our nation’s third largest industry.”
According to Honeywood, Hanson’s remarks also contradict her apparent stance on Australians using study abroad to improve their employability.
“Ironically, politicians like Pauline Hanson are happy to attend New Colombo Plan scholarship award nights and by doing so encourage Australians to have both a study and employability opportunity in Asian nations,” he told The PIE News.
“We can’t have it both ways,” Honeywood concluded.
The Council of International Students Australia’s national president Bijay Sapkota meanwhile said the remarks “don’t sound logical” and ignored “common sense”.
“International students are contributors to the [$32bn] education industry,” he said.
“If they are not allowed to work… it could make a significant effect on the number of international students coming to Australia, and the effects would be devastating.”
Instead, Sapkota told The PIE that politicians should start thinking about how to make international students more employable so they can access other jobs markets around the world and begin creating jobs.
A 2017 report found over 40% of international students in Australian workplaces were underpaid, with almost three quarters indicating they were aware but needed work experience.