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Australian post-study work visas contribute to brain drain fears overseas

Tiffany Leong

Tue Jun 19 2012

Lim Guan Eng

MALAYSIA’s opposition has expressed concerns new post-study work visas for international students in Australia will lead to greater “brain drain” for the country. Tiffany Leong reports.

Under new immigration laws to be introduced next year, international students will be eligible to work in Australia for two to four years after graduating from an Australian university, regardless of their field of study.

Democratic Action Party’s Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng said the new visas would be the “final nail in the coffin” for Malaysia’s talent pool.

“This new Australian work visa policy for graduates is almost set to be the final nail in the coffin for Malaysia’s 4Ds of Deficits, Debts, Deceits and brain Drain,” he said in a statement on his website.

“There are an estimated 20,000 – 30,000 Malaysian students in Australia, and when this new policy is implemented next year, our country can almost be assured of an exodus of talent as they will definitely stay on to work in Australia where they can enjoy greater salaries, greater freedom and greater prospects in both life and career,” he said.

Australian Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said the expansion of the Skilled Graduate visa scheme would “bring Australia into line with arrangements in other countries and enable education providers to offer a more competitive package to international students who are seeking good quality and long-term study in Australia, regardless of their field of interest.”

Under the new legislation, international student graduates will be able to work in Australia for two years with a bachelor’s degree, three years with a master’s degree and four years with a doctorate.

But visa holders will need “competent English” and health insurance, and must pass health, character and security requirements.

A spokeswoman for Bowen told The Australian these arrangements were not linked to skilled migration therefore these visa applicants would not be required to nominate an occupation on the skilled occupation list or undertake a skills assessment.

However, she added, the government reserved “the capacity to modify arrangements in future according to economic and employment circumstances”.