Media releases

MEDIA RELEASE: CAPA responds to increase in international students with a call to end workplace exploitation

7 Mar 18

Media release: CAPA responds to increase in international students with a call to end workplace exploitation

7 March 2018- The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) notes the record increase in international students coming to Australia and raises concerns about the conditions in which these students support their studies.

International students are routinely exploited by dodgy employers. In November last year, this issue was exposed by the Wage Theft in Australia report written by the Migrant Worker Justice Initiative, the University of New South Wales, and the University of Technology Sydney. The report found that one quarter of international students were paid $12 per hour or less in their workplaces. This equates to less than half of minimum wage for the roles and industries in which these students work.

The 13% increase in international enrolments last year was announced by the Education Minister earlier today. This means that there are now even more students who are at risk of being severely underpaid by predatory cash-in-hand employers, who take advantage of desperate students whose workplace rights are being denied.

CAPA is furthermore concerned about the employment prospects of international students coming to Australia. Many of these students arriving are hopeful that their education will be a pathway to migration in Australia, but find that many Australian companies are not interested in hiring international students and graduates. With tightened visa regulations, international students have less opportunities to be accepted for immigration purposes. Accordingly, CAPA appreciates the pledged increased focus of The Council of International Education on work integrated learning opportunities and on the strengthening of employability outcomes for international students.

CAPA calls on the Minister for Education and Training, Simon Birmingham, to ensure that the international students he welcomes to this country are protected from workplace exploitation. We furthermore call on the Government, including the Minister for Immigration Peter Dutton and the Minister for Jobs Michaelia Cash, to work together to further address the dire employment and immigration prospects of international students. These students have contributed to the Australian economy through partaking in our tertiary education system, and seek to continue to contribute as workers.

CAPA National President Natasha Abrahams says:

“International students coming to Australia are often unaware of their rights in the workplace and as a result are exploited and underpaid in alarming numbers. It is crucial that the Government cracks down on crooked employers rather than continuing to admit record numbers of international students with little regard for their welfare.”

CAPA International Officer Florian Spalthoff says:

“International students are more likely to face problems when looking for a job after graduation. A lot of international students did not get the chance to earn relevant work experience during their studies and potential employers are sceptical of the student’s future right of residence in Australia.”



For comment: CAPA National President Natasha Abrahams

M: 0430 076 993