How do international students in Australia fare after graduation?

There’s no disputing the popularity of Australia as a destination for international students. After re-opening its borders for international education back in 2021, students from all across the world have been flying over to the Land Down Under to get their degrees. Home to an abundance of prestigious universities, the country has a very well-established education industry, and some commentators are now suggesting that it might soon overtake the United Kingdom as the world’s second most sought after study destination. 


Equally undeniable is the key role that post-study work rights (PSWR) visas play in these students’ decisions to choose Australia as their study destination. By recently introducing a more comprehensive PSWR visa program for graduating international students, Australia successfully enhanced its own attractiveness as a study destination, creating the expectation among international students that meaningful and relevant employment awaits. 


Evidence clearly shows that PSWR is among the most critical factors that impact the decisions of international students deciding to study in Australia; to be exact, more than three-quarters of respondents in the International Student Survey 2018 stated that the opportunities to work in the country after study were an important influencing factor in their decision-making. 


Grant rates for post-study work visas are very high in Australia. But of course, international students shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that every single one of them who graduates from an Australian university will eventually be able to exercise their post-study work entitlement. On the same note, while it’s true that a degree from an Australian university can open up many great work opportunities for students in the future, they must still be able to demonstrate a range of resources to their employers in order to land a good job after graduation. 


Among others, these resources include active self-reflection, adaptability, career goals, cultural competency, cultural confidence, English proficiency, interpersonal skills, interview skills, passions, proactive actions, professional skills, qualification, resilience, social networks, visa status, and work experiences. In her article on the employability of international students in Australia, researcher and PhD candidate Melody Tang from Monash University states that these can be organised into six categories of resources that are essential for international graduates to navigate the labour market in their host country: 

  • human (professional knowledge, professional skills)
  • cultural (cultural competence)
  • social (effective networks)
  • identity (professional identity, career aspiration)
  • psychological (resilience, flexibility, adaptability); and
  • agentic (the capacity to interlink and strategise various resources).


Tang pointed out that, on their own, these capitals would not necessarily lead to immediate employment outcomes for international graduates. For example, strong social capital by way of having a broad social network can bring graduates closer to job opportunities, but the job referrals they get from their social networks do not automatically lead to job offers; these graduates are still required to demonstrate and prove their capacities in the official interviews. 


However, what these capitals can do is “improve the key wellbeing, sustainability, and professional growth aspects.” Tang found that having strengths in these capitals has been able to help international graduates navigate a range of challenges in the labour markets; graduates with strong social and cultural capitals in their destination country, for example, would find it easier to find job opportunities and adapt to new environments. That being said, the return on investment in education in Australia should not only be measured by immediate job offers or salaries but by a range of qualities that contribute to graduates’ holistic development.


If you’re pursuing your higher education in Australia (or if you’re considering doing so), you would do well to work on building on these six capitals to strengthen your prospects of landing a great job in the country after graduation. For more inquiries about studying in Australia and more advice on how to successfully capitalise on its PSWR opportunities to secure sought after jobs, feel free to reach out to our recruitment experts here at GSP.

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