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Australia: Extended Work Rights Courses Revealed

clock iconCreated At:23 February, 2023
write iconCreated By:Reem Mohamed

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A list of professions and courses that are set to be eligible for extended post-study work rights from July has been announced in Australia. The list includes eligible programs that range from health and technology to education and construction; all of which have been selected to respond to worker shortages in key sectors, as stated by the government.

Initially announced in September of the previous year, these new measures will allow eligible international higher education graduates to access an extra two years of post-study work rights. Not only that, but the work hours cap for international students will increase from 40 to 48 hours per fortnight.

This amounts to the following: eligible bachelor graduates across Australia will have their work rights extended from two to four years, master's graduates will have an extension from three to five years, and doctoral graduates will have their rights extended from four to six years.

Doctoral degree graduates represent a “highly-skilled cohort with significant potential for this cohort to contribute to Australia’s economy and society”, the government noted.

The list of eligible qualifications, which is set to be monitored and reviewed on an annual basis, includes around 226 courses in medical and nursing fields, processional health, diagnostics, allied health, teaching, engineering, ICT, agriculture, and so much more. 

Prior to the implementation of the policy in July, the Department of Education will release a comprehensive list, mapping the course codes to CRICOS as courses differ from one education provider to another and some may not be eligible.

Future changes to the qualifications list are said not to impact students who are currently starting eligible courses. This was said by the government, meaning that in the event a course is removed from the list, students will still be eligible for the extension come graduation. 

Emphasis has been placed on the fact that this extension is added on top of the existing additional one to two years of post-study work rights for those in regional Australia. 

The announcement for the approved two-year post-study work rights visa extensions was made as the Council for International Education met in the Australian capital, Canberra.

Phil Honeywood welcomed the policy update on social media, writing that together with Council for International Education co-convenor, Julian Hill MP, he is “pleased with 24-hour per week work rights from 1 July”.

“Australia needs more skilled workers to ease the current pressures weighing on our labour market and the economy,” Universities Australia chief executive Catriona Jackson commented on the matter.

“Making it easier for more of the talented international graduates our universities educate to use their Australian education in Australia’s cities and regions makes complete sense.” Jackson continued. “Australia needs more skilled workers to ease the current pressures”.

She also highlighted the fact that Australia’s current skills crisis prompts the urgent need to retain more international students, who generate around $40.3 billion in economic activity.

“Hundreds of thousands of international students come to our world-class universities each year, yet very few remain here – just 16%. We are worse off for that, economically and socially. Universities Australia has advocated strongly for this change, and we congratulate the Albanese government for its strong leadership and solutions-driven approach to meeting our workforce needs. The decision to extend working rights for PhD students, in particular, will provide a significant boost to the development of Australia’s knowledge economy.” Jackson went on.

Support for the 20 recommendations going forward has been issued in response by the government’s Post-Study Work Rights Working Groups to a report submitted on October 28 of the previous year.

The submission had called for the following: eligible qualifications to cover higher education only, the skills priority list to be used to identify occupations, and other measures such as clarifying the role of the Fair Work Ombudsman to students and including the needs of students and graduates in the 2023 migrant worker reform package to address the potential exploitation of students and graduates.

The government’s role in selecting which fields of training are eligible for the approved extended rights was called into question by the principal at DXP Consulting, Mary Clarke, who also agrees that this policy change will be viewed as a huge victory for the Australian international education sector. 

“True to its Jobs and Skills Summit undertaking, the government has the extended post-study work rights of international graduates. This is of course good news,” Mary took to LinkedIn.

“But, should the government be picking winners regarding which fields of education are eligible? Would that not distort study choices? And why only take skills shortages into consideration? What about human capital development?” She added in her post.


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