Recent research from the Australian International Directors’ Forum has shown that international graduates from Australian institutions are transitioning into full-time employment at similar rates to Australian domestic students.

What was the study?

The study was focussed on international graduates who completed their studies in Australia in 2012 and 2014. The profile of respondents was generally representative of international student enrolment in Australia. Respondents represented 143 nationalities with the 10 largest source countries represented just under two-thirds of the sample. These countries were: Malaysia, China, Singapore, Indonesia, India, Vietnam, Hong Kong, USA, Pakistan and Canada.

These graduates also showed high levels of satisfaction towards their Australian studies, with 81 per cent stating their degree was worth the financial investment.

Are students finding employment?

The report revealed that 79% of students were in full-time work three years after they graduated, 4% were self-employed and 6% were studying. This data was based on the 2012 graduating class. Only 4 per cent of respondents reported being unemployed and seeking full-time employment. By comparison, 3.4 per cent of bachelor degree graduates in the Australian workforce were unemployed in May 2015.

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

The data also showed that finding full-time work can take time for both domestic and international students. At the time of the study, of the 2014 class 67 per cent of respondents were in full-time work, 3 per cent were self-employed and 8 per cent were studying. 10 per cent were unemployed and looking for work. According to the Australian Graduate Survey (2015), 11.3 per cent of (primarily) Australian domestic graduates of bachelor degrees were still looking for work around four months after the completion of their studies in 2014.

What are they earning?

On average, graduates of Australian universities who return to their home country are earning higher salaries than the average local salary. Graduates from 2012 reported an average annual salary of AU$54,000; whereas respondents who graduated in 2014 were earning AU$42,000. Salary range was highly dependent on location, ranging from AU$92,000 in Norway to $8,200 in Bhutan.

“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,” reiterated Phil Honeywood, CEO from IEAA.

What industries are they working in?

Half of employed respondents worked in four sectors: Education and Training, Finance and Insurance Services, Heath Care and Social Assistance, Professional, Scientific and Technical Services. A further 6 per cent were working in Media and telecommunications.

Where are they living?

The majority of international graduates from Australian universities return to their home country following graduation. Of the 2014 class, just under 50 per cent had returned to their home country at the time of the study, while 43 per cent remained in Australia. A further 4 per cent had moved to a third country. Graduates from China, India and Pakistan are more likely to stay in Australia, while graduates from Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia are more likely to return home.

Did they use university career services?

Across the sample, 40 per cent of graduates reported using their university career services. This varied across nationalities, ranging from 62 per cent for Indian students to 15 per cent for Canadian students. Graduates were more likely to use career services if they stayed in Australia (56 per cent). The most commonly used services were CV writing workshops (63 per cent), career fairs (54 per cent) and ‘drop in’ advice services (36 per cent). Overall, 70 per cent of graduates who used career services were satisfied with their university’s collaboration with employers.