During the pandemic, student visa work restrictions were eased and temporarily removed, a move that was done by the Australian government to reduce worker shortages.
However, starting July 1, 2023, limits on the number of working hours will be reintroduced to student visa holders (subclass 500) studying and working in the country.
The number of working hours during study terms and semesters will be limited to 48 hours per fortnight, during study terms and semesters.
The Australian government says this ensures that international students can focus on gaining a quality education while being able to support themselves financially.
However, experts from Deputy believe the change in restrictions is the latest blow to a group who were “denied any financial support from the government during the pandemic.”
Many international students were stuck in Australia during the pandemic and were unable to support themselves financially, which led to companies like Deputy launching its Gift a Shift Fundraising Initiative to provide students with chef-cooked meals while unable to work.
Emma Seymour, Chief Financial Officer of Deputy, says the recent decision by the Australian government to reimpose working-hour caps on international students is a devastating blow to both those affected and the economy.
In fact, the implications of the government’s decision are far-reaching, and it could leave international students, business owners, and the wider economy worse off and at risk of several challenges. These challenges include forced underemployment during a time of high inflation and market volatility, limited access to a living wage, increased worker shortages due to cap limitations decreasing the size of the pool, and increased instances of wage theft and low workplace trust.
“Deputy stands in solidarity with organisations concerned about this decision and strongly advocates for the immediate reversal of fortnightly 48 working-hour caps imposed on international students; of the inability to increase hourly earnings relative to the costs of living; of decisions leading to forced underemployment and increased financial stress,” Seymour said.
“We call on Government to officially #ScrapTheCap and focus instead on empowering businesses operating in the shift work economy to be more profitable, connected, and trusted within their communities,” she said.
“The future of shift work has not been written yet, so let’s not begin with this story,” Seymour added.
Phil Honeywood, executive director of the International Education Association of Australia, said the changes in the cap hit “the right balance.” He said that countries like the United Kingdom have recently increased its cap to 30 hours a week.
“It hits the balance between the need to encourage international students to choose Australia over increasingly competitive countries,” Honeywood said.