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UA scores victory in Temporary Worker changes

The Australian government will make key amendments to its upcoming Temporary Skill Shortage visa, addressing concerns raised by peak body Universities Australia.

Universities Australia, Temporary Skill Shortage visaResearchers at Monash University's Australian Centre for Blood Diseases. Universities Australia was concerned the proposed work experience requirements for the Temporary Skill Shortage visa would lock out recent international PhD recipients from academic positions. Photo: Monash University

The changes will alleviate the concerns of some 3,000 researchers and university staff

The changes will see university lecturers, faculty head and chief executives, including vice-chancellors, restored to the medium and long-term skills list, while study undertaken during a PhD will account for work experience.

The confirmation sees the Australian government acting on a prior commitment to take a “broad view” of what constitutes work experience after Universities Australia raised concerns the proposed two years’ minimum occupational experience requirement could lock out recent international PhD recipients from academic positions.

“This is very good news – the government has listened to these key concerns and acted on them,” UA chief executive Belinda Robinson said in a statement.

“Domestic students benefit in many ways from the internationalisation of Australian education”

“The global community of university lecturers and researchers is a highly mobile one. Australia needs policy settings that allow us to remain competitive, and ensure we are able to snap up the best global talent to work alongside our brilliant home-grown researchers.”

Robinson said the changes would also alleviate the concerns of the estimated 3,000 researchers and university staff who are on the current 457 visa.

Monash University vice-chancellor Margaret Gardner also welcomed the announcement, saying the amendments would help Australia attract academic talent to the benefit of both international and domestic students.

“Domestic students benefit in many ways from the internationalisation of Australian education. They benefit from the insights and the understanding and experience [of foreign teachers] and the contacts they build with fellow students from across the world,” she told The PIE News.

“Frankly, our graduates, whether they come to us from overseas or they come to us from within Australia, expect that the education be at the highest level.”

Gardner added that while those with a PhD “fuel the next generation of our academic workforce”, the business community would also benefit from the changed interpretation of work experience.

“We want those PhDs to infuse future innovation, whether it’s starting up their own companies in Australia, or working in industry in an established organisation,” she said.

“If they don’t have their PhD understood to be work experience… we’ll be losing a whole lot of immensely talented people to other places in the world who will be very happy to accept them.”

While some academic positions were restored, university tutor remains absent from both lists.

The new Temporary Skill Shortage visa will come into effect in March 2018.

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