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Exploitation of international students must stop: CAPA

As universities celebrate the economic and cultural wealth associated with record numbers of international students, others have used the news to call for an end to systemic workplace exploitation.

Following yesterday’s release of new record figures, The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) has raised concerns about the conditions in which international students are working while supporting their studies.

The organisation has pointed to the Migrant Worker Justice Initiative Wage Theft in Australia report as evidence of how international students continue to be “routinely exploited” by employers.

The report found that 30 per cent of international students were paid $12 an hours or less – or about half the minimum wage for a casual employee in the affected jobs.

In a statement yesterday, CAPA said it was concerned about the employment prospects and treatment of international students coming to Australia, and has called on the minister of education and training Simon Birmingham to ensure they are protected from further workplace exploitation.

“International students coming to Australia are often unaware of their rights in the workplace and as a result are exploited and underpaid in alarming numbers,” national president Natasha Abrahams said. “It is crucial that the government cracks down on crooked employers rather than continuing to admit record numbers of international students with little regard for their welfare.”

CAPA international officer Florian Spalthoff said problems in the workforce after graduation also needed to be addressed.

“International students are more likely to face problems when looking for a job after graduation,” Spalthoff said. “A lot of international students did not get the chance to earn relevant work experience during their studies and potential employers are sceptical of the student’s future right of residence in Australia.”

CAPA also acknowledged the pledge made by The Council of International Education to work on integrated learning opportunities and strengthening employment outcomes for international students.

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