Aug 21, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Alyssa Walker

This year, we reported that international students have contributed significantly to Australia's population growth, which has benefitted the country's larger economy, and also its local ones, with many of the students living in cities.

There is more, though. Australia's exploding international student population is not just good for the economy -- it is an asset to Australia's future, too. Record numbers of international graduates are now staying after graduation -- and working. 

In fact, they stay up to four years on graduate work visas after their studies.

According to a recent article on, the vice-chancellor of the Australian National University (ANU), professor Brian Schmidt, has argued this boom is not displacing other workers. reports that as of March 2018, 50,000 international graduates remained in Australia on the 485 visa, an increase of more than 16,000 in just one year.

ABC report that the Australian Labor Party's immigration spokesman, Shayne Neumann, said that while international students are a critical factor in the economy, the rapid growth of graduates on 485 visas may be a concern.

He said, "It's incumbent on the Turnbull Government to ensure the integrity of Australia's migration program."

Under the visa, international students can work up to 20 hours per week per semester, but there are no time or occupation restrictions on the "post-study" graduate stream.

The 485 visa offers two years after study -- or up to four years depending on the qualification -- for those who complete at least two-year degrees. 

Some on this pathway then apply for permanent residency.

ANU's vice-chancellor told ABC that the visa offers "flexibility" and "financial incentives" for students, "but it also means the graduates we have here, who are incredibly well-trained, have the opportunity to contribute to the Australian economy."

Learn more about studying in Australia.

Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

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