From University to Workplace: A Complex Pathway for International Students

Professor Jill Blackmore1

1Deakin University, Burwood, Australia

Graduate employability has become a key issue for universities seeking to be distinctive in what are now increasingly competitive international education markets. Research indicates that international students select particular destinations and universities with the intention to gain work in their specialism for at least some time after graduation. But little has been done on how Australian employers view international graduates. In a three-year study investigating the employment outcomes of international students graduating from Australian universities in nursing, engineering and accounting, we interviewed potential employers (multinational, medium and small) regarding their recruitment practices. We found employers considered the credential indicated technical competence while the apparently objective criteria like visa eligibility and English language ability (linguistic capital) often filtered out many international student candidates. Additionally, they valued the dispositions of employability or 21st century ‘soft skills’ considered to be transferrable from education into work. But the final form of distinction was that of whether the applicant would ‘fit in’ to the organisational culture and existing teams, thereby privileging local candidates despite extolling the virtues of diverse workforces.


Professor Jill Blackmore AM is Alfred Deakin Professor at Deakin University on REDI strategic research centre. Her research focuses on leadership and organisational change in higher education, international students, mobility and graduate employability.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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