Opinion: Should international students be allowed to work in the country after graduation?

Opinion: Should international students be allowed to work in the country after graduation?
Students bring a lot to a country when studying abroad - but what about after graduation? Source: shutterstock.com

Studying abroad is an incredible opportunity to experience another culture, gain an international perspective and understand a different way of life.

It’s also a fantastic way to become a global citizen and isn’t just beneficial to you as the student; your knowledge and unique perspective can be harnessed in ways that could help communities in your host country. And your academic achievements could only serve to complement that.

But what happens when you’re no longer a student? Would you be able to remain in your university country after graduation? 

It all depends on which country you are studying in. Some countries, such as New Zealand, allow international students to work in the country after graduation.

Other countries, however, want to limit the number of international students staying in the country after graduation, fearing their remaining would be at the expense of local jobs. Australia, for example, recently tightened its requirements for post-graduation work visas, making it harder for international students to stay in the country after they’ve completed their studies.

While it makes sense that governments want to protect high-end jobs for skilled workers already in the country, this sends the message that international students are simply fruitful commodities rather than respected members of the community.

As an international student, you foster a rich academic community with a range of perspectives and knowledge-bases. This offers students an education that books can’t give them; how to relate to global communities, respect for people from different backgrounds and develops their awareness of their position in the world.

However, forcing students to return to their home countries after leaving the academic community undermines their merit as respected and valuable individuals.

For your time as a student, you became part of a society, contributing to its growth, spending in its economy and perhaps even working part-time for its companies.

This is generally viewed as positive diversification, yet once you are no longer a student, it is often a different story.

Why are you now considered a nuisance simply because you are no longer a fee-paying student? The only thing that’s changed is you have now become an active member of the economy rather than stagnantly studying in one place.

Being able to stay and work in the country means that you are continuing to contribute to a country’s societal and economic development, as well as maintaining the life you began when you moved to the country for university.

Of course, lots of countries honour this.

New Zealand has a progressive route towards Permanent Residenceship, if that’s what you want, and countries such as Canada and the UK have working visa schemes that favour international students to people looking to come for the first time.

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