“We acknowledge the prioritisation of visa applications from those highly-skilled workers currently offshore who will contribute to our workforce which is under significant pressure,” Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said.
“However, we hope this focus extends to those prospective students abroad who are eager to pursue higher education and research in Australia.
“Education and research are central to solving the challenges that lie before us, and these students will be a significant contributor to Australia’s skilled workforce as we rebound from the impact of the pandemic.
“We know through conversations with our member universities that a significant number of higher degree research students have been waiting for the green light to begin their postgraduate research in Australia for a considerable period of time.
“As the global competition for academic talent ramps up it is imperative that these research students who have made a commitment to Australia have their visa applications dealt with in an expeditious manner.
“With international commencements showing signs of recovery after the impacts of COVID-19, we must ensure Australia has a visa system robust and fit for purpose while being as streamlined as possible for the next generation of students and researchers abroad.
“These are individuals that, in some cases, will go on to contribute to our workforce, technological innovation and knowledge economy.
“Importantly, they make an enormous cultural and social impact across our communities.”