The Post-Study Work visa turns five: gauging divergence between policy objectives and student experience


Australia introduced Post-Study Work stream visas in 2013, providing most higher education graduates with the option to remain in the country with full work rights for between two and four years. The visa was promoted as means of decoupling the education–migration nexus by providing greater opportunities for Australian work experience to international graduates, while making permanent residency much more difficult without employer sponsorship.

Drawing on an analysis of completing student numbers and visa grants, this e-poster presentation will report on trends in post-study work stream visa uptake, which has been significantly lower than originally envisaged. Based on interviews with agents and international student association leaders, the study found that that Post-Study Work stream visas are being used by students as a ‘three-step’ migration strategy. The students pursue further study, employment and networking activities to improve their chances of obtaining permanent residence.

Take-home message:

* The ability of international higher education students to stay and work in Australia for between two and four years after graduation remains attractive to prospective students.

* The proportion of international graduates accessing the Post-Study Work stream visa has been increasing each year since 2013, but the uptake is still only around 40% of completing students, lower than many expected.

* It appears that very few recent international graduates on the Post-Study Work stream visa are able to obtain employment closely related to their studies. 

* Those students who apply for the visa are mostly seeking to stay in Australia, and for them the previous two-step strategy (study to permanent residence) has been replaced by an intermediate step involving extended temporary residence.

* Those on Post-Study Work stream visas are undertaking a wide range of further studies, professional years, employment and networking to enhance their ability to obtain permanent residence.

Key interest area: Employability (EMP) 
Other key interest areas: Higher Education (HE), Marketing and recruitment (M&R), Students (STU) 


Ms Anumoni Joshi
PhD Candidate, RMIT University, Australia

Prof. Chris Ziguras & Ms Anumoni Joshi

International Education Association of Australia

Christopher Ziguras is the President of the IEAA and a professor in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University. He oversees a variety of international projects, learning abroad programs and partnerships. Chris received the RMIT University Vice-Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2011. His research deals with many aspects of the globalisation of education, particularly the ways governments and institutions manage and regulate cross-border provision. He is a member of the Scientific Committee of the Centre for Higher Education Internationalisation at Università Cattolica Del Sacro Cuore in Milan. His latest book, ‘Governing Cross-Border Higher Education’, was published by Routledge in 2015.