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Media release: International education is essential to supplement domestic skills and boost economic growth

May 20, 2022

Strengthening international education and introducing targeted visa settings will be critical to ensuring Australia has access to the global talent pool and skilled workforce essential to meet the demands of new and emerging critical industries.

The Group of Eight (Go8) says an incoming Government must prioritise international education which is central to Australia’s future prosperity. International education and research are directly linked to economic growth and the opportunity of higher living standards.

Essential Decisions for National Success: Supporting Australia’s international education and research sector is the latest in a series of policy papers from the Go8 in the lead up to the Federal election, to support the development of Government policy to meet the challenges ahead.

Go8 Chief Executive Vicki Thomson said COVID-19 had laid bare how much Australia relies on imports to supplement our locally grown talent base.  

“Global competition for talent is intensifying and our international competitors are rapidly positioning themselves as destinations of choice for highly skilled and talented individuals.  The UK and US have both introduced policy levers to fast track the recruitment of academic and research leaders in areas critical to economic growth.

“For an incoming Government to deliver on major policy and infrastructure commitments, it must introduce a High Potential Individual (HPI) Visa. This would supplement the existing Global Talent Visa Program and post graduate study rights access, by targeting high achieving graduates from top global universities in areas of workforce need, and create a level playing in this increasingly competitive global environment.

“Australia is at a critical juncture with respect to skills needs – facing serious challenges to maintaining capacity in essential areas of workforce need, the engineering and medical workforce among them. We need to position ourselves as a provider of choice in the region for high quality postgraduate and research education and as a welcoming and engaged member of the Indo-Pacific region.

“Go8 universities, as Australia’s research-intensive universities, are at the forefront of this engagement. Our expertise, developed via collaborations between our best minds and those located overseas, must be leveraged to help produce the high-quality graduates on which Australia will increasingly rely; fuel new discoveries and understanding through our high-quality research; and achieve profitable commercialisation outcomes by partnering with large international companies around the world.

“A renewed focus on international education in the post COVID-19 world is needed to reposition the sector to better meet the needs of industry and the economy. It will also boost economic growth, foster foreign diplomacy and strengthen Australia’s national security,” Ms Thomson said.

Supporting Australia’s international education and research sector report and recommendations

Contact: Vicki Thomson, Group of Eight Chief Executive on +61 438 047 155