Universities call for targeted visas and more money for international education

By Melissa Coade

May 23, 2022

visa stamps in passports
The Group of Eight has advised policymakers on how Australia’s skilled workforce can tap into the ‘global talent pool’. (angelonz/Adobe)

The Group of Eight (Go8) has advised policymakers on how Australia’s skilled workforce can tap into the ‘global talent pool’.

A new policy paper by the Go8 has outlined the ‘essential decisions’ the incoming federal government must adopt to back Australia’s economic growth and higher living standards. 

According to the group of universities, Australia’s local skills needs can leverage the relationship of research-intensive universities and their overseas collaborators to fill a gap. 

Since the COVID-19 pandemic rocked the international student sector, Go8 CEO Vicki Thomson said, global competition for these skilled workers has increased. 

“Australia is at a critical juncture with respect to skills needs – facing serious challenges to maintaining capacity in essential areas of workforce need, the engineering and medical workforce among them,” Thomson said in a statement. 

“We need to position ourselves as a provider of choice in the region for high quality postgraduate and research education and as a welcoming and engaged member of the Indo-Pacific region.”

Thomson said the policy paper identified imported international skills were critical for supplementing Australia’s local talent base. To deliver on federal policy and infrastructure commitments, the Go8 has also recommended Australia introduce a High Potential Individual (HPI) Visa.

“This would supplement the existing global talent visa program and postgraduate study rights access, by targeting high achieving graduates from top global universities in areas of workforce need, and create a level playing field in this increasingly competitive global environment,” Thomson said. 

The Go8 argues lawmakers cannot ignore the international competition for talent, with governments in the UK and US pulling policy levers to attract academic and research leaders in areas critical to economic growth.

“A renewed focus on international education in the post-COVID-19 world is needed to reposition the sector to better meet the needs of industry and the economy. 

“It will also boost economic growth, foster foreign diplomacy and strengthen Australia’s national security,” Thomson said.

The ‘Supporting Australia’s international education and research sector’ report was released prior to Saturday’s election.


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