Media releases

MEDIA RELEASE: Australia’s peak student organisations stand united against Opposition’s damaging statements about international students

23 Jul 18

Media release: Australia’s peak student organisations stand united against Opposition’s damaging statements about international students

Australia’s peak student organisations, the National Union of Students (NUS), the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA), and the Council of International Students Australia (CISA), today have spoken out against the Labor Party’s stance on international students’ working rights.

The Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, released a statement last week claiming that the number of migrants on temporary work visas had “blown out” under the Coalition government and suggesting a crack-down on international students who are working alongside their studies. This would curb the opportunities for students to support themselves financially and could discourage future students from pursuing education in Australia.

In 2018 alone, Australia accepted 525,000 students from all over the world constituting a 12% increase in admissions from the previous year. International students studying and living in Australia contributed $22.0 billion to the economy in 2016, making the international education sector Australia’s third-largest export. The international students also heavily bequeath multiculturalism, diversity and soft diplomacy to the social fabric of Australia which makes it a top pick for students wanting to pursue education abroad.

The peak student organisations NUS, CISA, and CAPA are concerned that changes to international students’ working rights will marginalise these students despite their economic and cultural contributions to Australia.

Mark Pace, President of the National Union of Students (NUS) says: “With a growing international student population, the federal government needs to introduce legislation to ensure these students have equitable working conditions and fair pay. International students are more likely to be exploited in the workplace, it is up to the government to provide a system which supports international students academically and financially throughout their studies.”

Bijay Sapkota, President of the Council of International Students Australia (CISA) says: “Most international students come from countries with low socio-economic incomes and invest heavily in education abroad. Discrediting their work rights to engage in 20 hours of employment a week, will deprecate their abilities to support themselves and realize a value for their investment in Australia.”

Natasha Abrahams, President of the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA), says: “We should crack down on dodgy employers who illegally underpay international students, rather than penalising those students who are just trying to support themselves in a broken system.”