Evaluating the effects of Australian policy changes on human capital. The role of a graduate visa scheme

Abstract

High-skilled migration across international borders is becoming increasingly important in policy and academic debates. In Australia, the recognition of the importance of attracting and retaining highly skilled individuals has stimulated fundamental shifts in immigration policies. This paper explores the impacts of one of these policy shifts in focusing on the introduction of a graduate visa scheme. The scheme was introduced in Australia for the first time in September 2007 offering international graduates from Australian universities 18 months of working rights post-graduation. Since the implementation of this visa scheme there has been a sharp increase in the number of overseas graduates staying in Australia. However, no research has been carried out that investigates the working conditions and interregional migration patterns of these graduates remaining in Australia under this temporary 18 months visa. Through the exploration of individual survey data describing the 2005 and 2008 cohorts of graduates representing the ‘before’ and ‘after’ the graduate visa scheme introduction this paper explores the impact of the visa scheme through analysing and comparing the working conditions and migration patterns of two cohorts of graduates. Findings suggest that although the introduction of the graduate visa scheme attracted more international students/graduates into the country, our analysis highlighted that the average working conditions of the international graduates who decided to remain in Australia worsened. Comparing these results with their domestic (Australian) graduate counterparts revealed that this was not due to the overall state of the Australian economy over the period under consideration.

Publication
Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy