International Students and Migration in Australia: Understanding the Link using Lumira
Australia is known as having one of the best education and training industry worldwide and has for years been a leader in the sector, attracting an increasing number of international students. However, with education and migration policies now being closely aligned, more and more international students are now being recruited as skilled migrants in the country.
Among key factors that make international students attractive migrants, two stand out:
- The country is recruiting a pool of highly trained workers, impacting positively on economic development
- With the ageing population in Australia, recruiting young workers ensures the sustainability of the workforce and economy
As a result, we have noticed that a high proportion of international students opt for Australia due to the possibility of ultimately migrating to the country which offers high quality of living and lots of opportunities. However, the skilled migration programme is highly competitive and only specific skills are demanded in the migration program. While student visas are designed so that students can achieve an educational outcome and that the government specifies that students should not choose their courses based on some desired migration outcome, we have noticed interesting links between skilled migration fields and the main fields of study chosen by international students. We thus analysed how migration rules, which are regularly amended to meet the specific economic needs of the country, impact on international student enrolments.
Using the Lumira software was an insightful experience for us. In fact, as part of our course assessment, we were required to analyse an aspect of International Students in Australia. While at first we went for analysing a broad range of aspects relating to international students, we soon realised that limited data was available with regards to international students and we had to create a link between factors we wanted to analyse and international student trends. We thus uploaded enrolment data into the software and identified material trends in enrolments. As such, with these, we had something to analyse and were then able to better focus our data collection. To aid us in our analysis, we also read government reports and news articles to help us direct our research to key aspects of migration. Researching this topic was also very interesting given we are ourselves international students and the possibility of data confirming our perception of the industry here is particularly remarkable.
In order to focus our research on data that will give us a clear indication of trends, we first analysed the overall trend in international student enrolments and noticed key fluctuations which were confirmed through government reports but also data. In addition, with Higher Education and VET being the sectors with highest enrolments counts, we focused on these two sectors to further our analysis.
In further drilling down the enrolment data, we noticed that Indian students are one of the biggest groups of international students in Australia. Government reports have also shown that the highest number of post-study visa and permanent residency visa are given to former Indian international students. As such, we focused on this target group and were able to show how they shifted from VET to Higher Education due to problems like college closures but also due to changes in migration rules whereby VET students could no longer apply for post-study work visas.
We thought about analysing the trend in international students’ choice of courses by broad areas of studies and this analysis confirmed our thoughts about how courses choices coincide with occupations listed in the Australian Skilled Migration Programme. However, we do understand that other factors might impact these choices but the next visualisation will show how choices of courses change with amendments to the Skilled Migration Programme.
The above visualisation, which is an interactive visualisation shows how the number of enrolments in Higher Education courses in the Food, Hospitality and Personal Services field have drastically dropped from 2010 to 2012. Concurrently, government sources state how occupations in this field were removed from the Skilled Migration Programme as from 2013, explaining the fall. However, enrolments picked up in 2014 when such occupations were back on the Migration Programme but only under the Sponsored section. This would explain how the increase is not significant as it is really hard for international students to be sponsored. Similar analyses have been made with regards to Information Technology, Management and Commerce, Health and Engineering, all showing an increasing trend as these are highly demanded skills in the program.
However, migration rules are becoming more stringent, with for example, English proficiency requirements being elevated. As such, more students are opting for Temporary Residency which doesn’t have as many requirements as Permanent Residency, trend shown on the graph. In addition, with more stringent rules, students are being discouraged to apply for post-study visas, explaining the fall in overall visas granted to former international students.
Lastly, we wanted to portray what are the employment prospects of international students in Australia, opting for the above-mentioned fields of study. While Professional, Scientific and Technical Services skills are highly demanded, we can see that on the other hand, vacancies for IT graduates or even Finance graduates is not as high and that may be a sign of future market saturation. Concurrently, we have analysed the average weekly income for each field and finance and IT graduates seem to earn more than the average weekly earnings while healthcare for example provides lower than average earnings.
While a lot more can be analysed with regards to migration and international students, we wanted to provide an overview of key aspects of this area. We would like to thank our lecturer and tutor for including this assignment as part of the course as it really provides us with a hands-on experience to using key analytics tools and enhance our critical thinking. Through working on this assignment, we understood the key theoretical aspects we learned in lectures like how there is lot of data out there but not all of it is usable, or data preparation and best visualisation practices.