Understanding international students’ employment journey in Australia

"Australian universities need to move away from a 'once-size-fits-all' approach when it comes to employability support."

Dr Jasvir Kaur Nachatar Singh from La Trobe University through her research has highlighted how significant barriers still exist in the employability of international postgraduate students in Australia.

She says that in 2019 international education sector was worth about A$40.3 billion and in 2022 about $25.5 billion to the Australian economy.

Dr Singh adds that international students from South Asia – including India – make up more than 30% of those studying in Australia.

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However, she points out that in 2022 only 57% of undergraduate Indian students and less than 53% of postgraduates had full-time employment after they graduated in Australia.

Dr Singh observes:

“Both career fairs and careers support on Australian campuses are skewed towards domestic students.”

Image: Dr Jasvir Kaur Nachatar Singh (Source: La Trobe University)

Dr Singh points to the following four key axes that are barriers to international student employment:

  • time pressures from study and adjustment issues (micro);
  • lack of internship opportunities offered at the universities (meso);
  • lack of culturally tailored university career services (meso); and
  • perceptions of employers’ as well as Government policy implications (macro).

She adds that a lot needs to be done to improve international student employability in Australia:

“Australian universities need to move away from a ‘once-size-fits-all’ approach when it comes to employability support.”

Further, Dr Singh suggests some key changes could include:

  • initiating partnerships with companies or industry representatives to provide specific job opportunities to international students via internships, work placements and volunteering roles;
  • inviting more companies to career fairs that will be open to offering opportunities for international students or graduates on temporary visas;
  • inviting international graduate alumni as guest speakers to career sessions, to mentor students, help modify their resumes and locate work or internship opportunities; and
  • providing careers offices with the capacity to provide practical career planning and development guidance for international students.

Listen to Dr Jasvir Kaur Nachatar Singh’s interview with Dr Amit Sarwal on understanding international students’ employment journey in Australia.

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