A graphic from the International Employment Outcomes, Where Are They Now? report, showing the location of international student survey respondents.
Australia report examines overseas student employment outcomes

International graduates from Australian universities transition to the workforce at rates comparable to domestic students and earn above average salaries in their home countries, according to the results of a study by the Australian Universities International Directors' Forum (AUIDF).

The International Employment Outcomes, Where Are they Now? report by the AUIDF in partnership with the International Education Association of Australia (IEAA) was based on 3,821 surveys by international students who completed studies in Australia between 2012 and 2014.


The survey found that 79 per cent of the 2012 cohort were in full-time employment. Four per cent were unemployed, with the remainder studying, working part time or self-employed. The authors said that the Australian domestic graduate cohort of the same year had an unemployment rate of 5.6 per cent.


For the 2014 international cohort, 67 per cent were full-time employed, while 10 per cent were unemployed.


"When compared with similar surveys for domestic students, the results indicate that graduate employment trends for international students are comparable with their domestic peers," said Camel Murphy, AUIDF representative and Executive Director (International) at the University of Melbourne.


The authors of the report said, "Sixty-one per cent of the 2012 cohort were already working in middle management, senior management or in a directorial capacity at the time of the study. While only 41 per cent of the 2014 cohort were in similar positions, the data suggests that they may also quickly rise in their careers."


Of the respondents that were employed, education and training (14 per cent) was the most common vocational field, followed by finance and insurance (13), and health care and social assistance (12).


From the 2012 cohort, 51.4 per cent had returned to their home country, 39.5 per cent were still in Australia, 6.3 per cent were in a third country and 2.6 per cent were unknown.


The more recent graduate cohort was predictably more likely to still be in Australia (43.4 per cent), while 49.7 had returned to their home country.


The average salary was reported as AUS$54,000 for the 2012 cohort, compared with AUS$42,000 for the 2014 graduates. Sixty per cent of respondents said that having an Australian qualification meant they could command a higher salary than graduates from their home country.


Phil Honeywood, CEO of IEAA, said, "Although the transition from study to work can be a steady process, the majority of international graduates reported progressing quickly in their careers and higher incomes than the average local salaries in their home countries."


Overall, 81.8 per cent of respondents agreed that their Australian degree was worth the financial investment, with the highest nationality ratings from Malaysia (88 per cent) and Vietnam (85).


In terms of satisfaction with skill development, 93 per cent were positive about their progress in English language proficiency, 92 per cent were satisfied with problem solving and self-management skills, and 91 per cent thought their teamwork skills had improved. The lowest ratings were for initiative and enterprise skills and software/technology skills (both 78 per cent).


Across the whole sample, 40 per cent reported using Australian university career services, ranging by nationality from 62 per cent for Indian students to 15 per cent for Canadians. CV writing workshops, careers fairs and 'drop in' advice sessions were the most commonly used services, the authors said.


The full report is available on the IEAA website.



By Matthew Knott

News Editor