Part-time work focus for international students a ‘time bomb’

The Australian government’s approach to boosting international education by uncapping part-time work rights is not a “gesture of support” for students but about providing “a supplementary workforce for corporate Australia”, a conference has heard.

Phil Honeywood, head of the International Education Association of Australia (IEAA), told a Universities UK forum that the result could also be a “time bomb” for the higher education sector because of the pressures students would face to work while studying.

Since opening up its borders to international students in December, the Australian government has pledged to refund visa fees and temporarily scrapped the limit on the number of hours overseas learners are allowed to work during term time in a bid to quickly boost numbers.

Mr Honeywood said Australia had suffered a “reputational hit” during the Covid crisis and criticised prime minister Scott Morrison for telling “our international students at the start of the pandemic to just go home” when other nations focused more on support.

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