Pauline Hanson is back at it again, trying to strip international students of working rights in Australia. It’s disheartening that she thinks they are undeserving of the opportunity to have a job and earn money, if they are willing to do so.
She advocates that they should complete their studies here without working, a ridiculous assertion given that the two go hand-in-hand, even for Australian students.
International students are already at a disadvantage and can’t afford to be deprived of anything else, especially not their working visas.
Even if they are working in jobs not particularly relevant to their studies, the Australian workplace experience they are receiving is vital. They have moved to a country where they don’t know many people, if any at all, so need to build up their networks however possible as well as fit in society and make friends.
While Hanson claims that international students should be self-supporting, we don’t make it easy for it to be the case.
International students obtain the same qualifications from Australian universities as local students, making them equally suitable for jobs, yet their job prospects in the longer-term are a lot bleaker.
While the qualifications and certificates are identical, the course fees on the other hand are far from that. International students are paying over-inflated fees, up to 400% more than what it costs local students to study. They need working rights while studying to help make up that difference in whatever way possible and Pauline Hanson is trying to deny them of that.
International students and graduates are already faced with prejudice when seeking employment. It ranges from the obvious with job advertisements out there stating that only Australian citizens can apply, to the more discreet where employers face unwarranted concerns over accepting them into their companies and conceal the real reason for not hiring them over someone else.
If their work rights were to be entirely removed, the Australian economy would suffer. Education is one of our largest exports and not being able to work will see international student numbers, and export revenue, dramatically decline. While Hanson acknowledges the economic benefits international students afford us, she forgets that we have to offer something in return for it to be sustainable. It is wrong to assume that international students don’t deserve any rights for making such a valuable contribution to our economy. The least we can do is offer them the right to work and earn money and this can further bolster the economy by filling gaps in industries left by Australians.
Hanson is happy for international students to continue to subsidise our own kids’ education but when it comes to work, it’s classified as taking jobs away. It makes no sense that she claims they are ‘taking’ jobs but not ‘taking’ university places. Her attitude is based on the premise that the former injects money into our economy, while the latter will be less likely to do so.
If international students are willing to work, why are we depriving them of the potential to earn money? Their earnings are likely to remain in Australia, in the form of paying tuition fees and living expenses. International students I have met are incredibly hard working and will do almost anything to find employment. They are faced with enough challenges in trying to find jobs with current visa and working arrangements that they do not need these to be stripped back any further.
Australia is known to be a migrant nation and if we really are, we need to continue to allow international students the right to work in the interests of fairness and to give them something in return for the significant contribution they are already making to our economy.
As a politician, Pauline Hanson should know that you can’t receive without giving something in return and the same applies to international students being given the right to work. The prejudice needs to stop and instead of working rights being removed from the hands of international students, we should be looking for more ways to level out the playing field and encourage them to see success in Australia whether it be finding jobs or starting their own businesses here.
About the Author:
Gerard Holland is the founder of Outcome.Life, a startup focused on employability pathways for international students. You can find more information about his work here:
Published on April 18, 2018