Brendan O’Malley, University World News
A record number of international students studied in Australia in 2017, as a result of the largest increase recorded in a single year, according to new figures.
Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said in a statement on 7 March that the 2017 international education data showed there were more than 624,000 full-fee paying international students in Australia in 2017 on a student visa, an increase of 13% (or almost 71,000 students) across all sectors on 2016.
However, the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations or CAPA, responding to the minister’s statement, has raised concerns about the conditions in which these students support their studies, alleging that they are routinely exploited by “predatory, cash-in hand employers” who deny them workplace rights.
In November a report, Wage Theft in Australia, by the Migrant Worker Justice Initiative, the University of New South Wales and the University of Technology Sydney, found that one in four international students were paid AU$12 (US$9) per hour or less in their workplaces. This equates to less than half of the minimum wage for the roles and industries in which these students work.
In a statement on 7 March, CAPA called on Minister Birmingham to ensure international students are protected from workplace exploitation and to address the “dire employment and immigration prospects of international students” caused by tightened visa regulations and lack of interest among many Australian companies in hiring them.