Just 2% of overseas students stay in the country long-term post-graduation, according to the study of 1,026 overseas graduates of Australian universities, while 14% stay for a short period.
“The data found what Hobsons has long known – international students are not taking jobs from Australians”
“The data found what Hobsons has long known – international students are not taking jobs from Australians,” Tanya Perera, Hobsons director of client success, told The PIE News.
“Hobsons knows the immense benefits international students bring to Australia and now have the data to dispel this community perception,” she continued.
International students are a valuable asset to Australia, both in terms of building cultural diversity and global networks in education and from an economic perspective, Perera said.
With strong growth in international student numbers – up 11% last year – international education is Australia’s fourth largest export industry. It added AUS$17.6bn to the economy last year, and supports more than 130,000 jobs nationwide.
As such, stakeholders are keen to demonstrate overseas students’ value to the country.
The survey, which was distributed to graduates via LinkedIn and Facebook, was conducted in response to a “commonly held perception” in Australia that international students are taking the jobs of Australians, Perera explained.
“This is damaging our reputation as a destination for international students and flies in the face of reality,” she said.
“We want to use this data to inform the community so we can begin to change attitudes to international students.”
Australia needs to overhaul its image as a welcoming destination for international students, she argued.
Perera cited rolling media coverage of a series of apparently racially-motivated attacks on international students in Victoria in 2009 that “inflicted some significant damage to our international reputation as a safe and welcoming destination for international students”.
“Hobsons knows the immense benefits international students bring to Australia and now have the data to dispel this community perception”
Higher education stakeholders, government and business must work together to re-shape the way international students are viewed in Australian society and acknowledge and promote the benefits beyond just the economic, she urged.
“Let’s be clear that we are not starting from a position of immense strength, in our perception of being a welcoming nation,” she counselled. “Safe, yes but welcoming, I would say, no.”
For those that do decide to stay in the country, the survey found that graduates felt their Australian degree had improved their employability. Almost two thirds of the graduates surveyed said their employment outcomes had increased a significant or very significant amount thanks to their degree.
In fact, just 4% of respondents felt that it had had no impact on their job prospects.
According to Hobsons, the few students who do decide to remain in Australia present businesses with opportunities to hire talented international graduates.