Overseas students ‘unaware’ of Australia’s work rights backflip

Agents had not kept their clients in the loop despite pocketing thousands of dollars in fees, survey finds

April 13, 2024
Street dance in the streets of Melbourne
Source: iStock/Phillip Greissel

Many international students were unaware of Australia’s recent visa policy changes before they arrived Down Under, and a sizeable proportion would have gone elsewhere had they known, according to a survey.

The questionnaire of more than 400 current and prospective students found that only two in five knew that Australia had cancelled its two-year extension to post-study work rights. Over one in four prospective students said the policy shift had changed their minds about going to Australia.

Technology platform Ascent One, which commissioned the study, said only 15 per cent of the respondents who knew about the migration policy changes had been informed by their agents. More than three-quarters had found out through independent research.

Chief executive Naresh Gulati said the survey results pointed to “a big communication gap between the government, education providers, agents and students”.

The survey, by market research company YouGov, also captured the views of more than 500 former overseas students. About 80 per cent of current and past students said they were satisfied with their overall experience in Australia, and some 85 per cent considered the country to be a welcoming and inclusive destination.

“While the majority of students still recommend Australia as a place to study, our reputation as a world-class destination for study is shaky at best,” Mr Gulati said.

About two-thirds of the respondents said they had used education or migration agents, or were planning to do so. The median agents’ fees paid by those who had used their services was more than A$4,250 (£2,210).

Students from China had typically shelled out about A$5,000 on agents. Those from the Philippines and Colombia had tended to pay lower fees of A$3,400 and A$3,900, respectively.

About 80 per cent of the respondents said they believed their agents had acted in their best interests.

The survey found that 69 per cent of current students were undertaking paid work alongside their studies, but only 23 per cent had jobs that related to their studies. Most said they had been unable to secure relevant employment because they lacked residency or full-time work rights.


Register to continue

Why register?

  • Registration is free and only takes a moment
  • Once registered, you can read 3 articles a month
  • Sign up for our newsletter
Please Login or Register to read this article.

Related articles