The Group of Eight (Go8) welcomes the opportunity to provide feedback on the Draft Traffic Light Bulletin for Public Consultation. Please note this submission represents the views of the Go8 network, and member universities may make their own, more detailed submissions.
As noted in the Go8 submission to the Draft Methodology for the Review of Skilled Migration Occupation Lists, the Go8 are deeply engaged in a fierce competition for global talent. Our status as Australia’s leading research intensive universities, reflected in the global rankings, is dependent upon our capacity to attract the best researchers, teachers and thought leaders to live and work in Australia. This then has flow on effects to the Australian industry, economy and the wellbeing of all Australians. For example:
- Australia’s international education industry generates 130,000 jobs and $21.8 billion in exports;
- Research and innovation has added $10 billion added to Australia’s GDP each year over the last 30 years, of which the Go8 generates around $6 billion;
- Go8 research-generated breakthroughs have improved the health and wellbeing of Australians through advances such as SNAP surveillance technology (vital at airports to assist with terrorism), cochlear implants (enabling millions around the world to hear), spinifex (for chronic pain relief) and EmbryoGen (improves the chances of conception and pregnancy using IVF); and
- Go8 research and performance directly impacts the global reputation of Australian research excellence, as reflected through measures such as the Go8’s performance in ERA (in which 99% of our research is rated world class or above) and our membership of the Global Network of Research Intensive Universities, which includes the Russell Group, China Nine (C9), Japan’s Research Universities 11 (RU11), the League of European Research Universities (LERU) and the American Association of Universities (AAU).
The Go8 recognises the need to have a mechanism for regulating the flow of people into Australia. However, it is critical to ensure that high performing research universities such as the Go8 rely on being able to recruit the best and brightest to Australian shores, regardless of where they originate in the world.
For this reason, the Go8 welcomes the retention of the key occupational categories of “University Lecturer” (242111) and “Faculty Head” (134411) on the MLTSSL.
We were also pleased to note that “University Tutor” (242112) has been flagged for re-introduction to the STSOL.
Taking a role as a University Tutor is often the first step on the ladder to an academic career. It allows promising young candidates to build up their teaching experience, often along PhD studies, to ensure they are equipped for the combined teaching and research roles that remain the standard for academic positions Australian universities. While Australia does, and will continue to, develop its own domestic academic capacity, this should not preclude universities from seeking to recruit the best early career talent. Offering an attractive package at an early stage in an academic’s career, especially if done during the period that people tend to be relatively mobile (ie before marriage, children and other commitments), increases the likelihood that talent will choose to settle in Australia. However, if the best that Australia can offer is a short term option, with no pathway to permanent residency as is presented through the Short Term TSS, then we risk investing time and money in developing that talent only to see them take their new skills offshore.
The Go8 therefore urges the Department of Employment to consider placing University Tutor on the MLTSSL list instead.
 Go8 “Facts of Distinction”, 2017 edition