Under the current settings, research students are waiting up to three years for a visa processing outcome, while less than a third of international graduates use their post-study work rights in Australia.
Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said Australia was worse off for this.
“With around 100 visa subclasses, our migration system is overly complex and not fit-for-purpose. It deters rather than encourages the talented people we need,” Ms Jackson said.
“The current settings are slowing the flow of skilled workers and researchers who drive our economy and progress and are holding back international students who make us stronger.
“Our world-class universities attract hundreds of thousands of international students each year, yet only 28 per cent use their post-study work rights and just 16 per cent become permanent residents.
“This is not surprising when our system has more barriers than gateways, including extended wait times, a lack of visibility around application status, and little certainty in general for prospective students and staff.
“Meanwhile, our global competitors are increasing the number of international graduates in their migration mix in recognition of the significant contribution they make. Australia is falling behind.
“It’s time to hit the reset button and design a migration system that supports Australia’s future.
“We are one of the world’s great multicultural nations and we need a system that acknowledges the past, present and future benefits of migration to our nation.”
In our submission to the government’s comprehensive review of Australia’s migration system, universities are calling for:
- temporary graduate visas to be automatically granted to all international students, upon completion of their study, who meet the course requirements for graduation and the relevant character conditions as assessed by the Department of Home Affairs throughout their study.
- a reporting protocol to supply education providers, employers and visa applicants with up-to-date data on the status of relevant applications.
- a priority system, like the Green Card in the United States, to introduce nimbleness and flexibility to Australia’s migration system.
- the genuine temporary entrant visa requirement to be replaced with a genuine student visa requirement, to ensure the student visa is not used by non-genuine students.
- exemptions for world-class staff from the government’s skills assessment process, providing improved pathways into Australia and a pathway to permanent residency.
“While Australia’s migration system has served the university sector well, the proliferation of visa subtypes and skilled occupation lists, along with the difference in state-sponsored approaches to migration makes navigating the current system an onerous and costly process,” Ms Jackson said.
“Universities serve the nation – through research and development and skilled workers who support our economy and standard of living – and we need more of this in a changing and complex world.
“That means bringing more people here who complement the skills and talents of Australians, to undertake more research and development, to teach our students, and to study at our universities.
“Universities are calling on the government to simplify and streamline the migration system by stripping away unnecessary visa classes, regulation and barriers.”