The Q3 onshore International Student Sentiment Survey (ISSS), conducted by Edified Research, contains insights into how international students are coping with their studies and how they feel about their Australian education. Interestingly, it also contains insights into how they keep up to date with information and student knowledge around employment rights.
The latest ISSS shows international students are becoming increasingly worried about future employment opportunities in Australia, but that sentiment towards the sector appears to be improving in some cohorts.
The survey’s findings showed that 6 in 10 international students are worried about future career opportunities. More than 4 in 10 students continue to struggle to find part time or casual work, and 3 in 10 students have reported issues relating to exploitation, safety or discrimination during their time in Australia.
This quarter’s survey also asked students questions related to employment, with more than 80 per cent believing it’s very important to know their employment rights in Australia. However, when it came to specific knowledge on topics such as workplace relations, getting a payslip and minimum wage, around a quarter of students surveyed had little to no knowledge on these matters.
In regards to sourcing information on employment, the majority of international students felt information about their employment rights was helpful and easy to find, but Edified’s survey finds they are less likely to discuss their rights with their employer. They also feel less protected by Australia’s employment laws, with English language students from China, Hong Kong and South Korea least confident on employment rights.
The education provider remains one of the most trusted sources for providing information or advice to students on these rights, followed closely behind by Australian Government sources such as the Fair Work Ombudsman, the Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Tax Office.
On the topic of finding information more broadly, a larger number of students were also unable to find information needed to combat their feelings of loneliness, isolation and sadness than the previous survey, while there were also rises in students unable to find information about managing their studies or changes to course delivery.
Despite the concerns around employment exploitation, employment rights and wellbeing, student sentiment and intentions to stay in Australia to complete studies appears to be improving, for some segments of the international student population.
More Chinese students are choosing to stay in Australia to complete their studies because of Australia’s COVID-19 regulations rather than return to their home country to conclude their studies (10 per cent, up from 5 per cent last survey). However Chinese and Indian students are still the highest cohort to likely return home out of all nationalities surveyed.
The fourth quarter onshore ISSS is scheduled for October 2021. Austrade will share promotion details of the survey with sector stakeholders in a future MIP to ensure we get another high student participation rate.