Exclusive content

Logged in users benefit from exclusive intelligence and analysis including premium reports, monthly source market information, on-the-ground intelligence, and IDP research.


Don't have an account? Register


Australia’s move to extend the post-study work (PSW) rights for international students by two years was seen by many as a proactive approach to renew interest in Australia as a first-choice study destination and boost skilled migration.

Following the February ’23 announcement, our IQ data - which draws on the world’s largest student dataset - is showing rising search demand for study programs in Australia relating to key industries eligible for these PSW extensions.

From 1 July 2023, those graduating with bachelor’s degrees in eligible programs will be able to qualify for four years of PSW rights, while master’s graduates will be eligible for five, and PhD graduates eligible for six. The eligible qualifications and occupations, as announced by the Federal government, will primarily be in those areas with verified skill shortages. These areas include education, healthcare, and STEM, with related occupations such as Nurse Practitioner, Early Childhood Teacher, and Geotechnical Engineer showing strong future demand.  

So, while we can’t predict the future, we want to know if there are any early indicators in our data as to the impact of this policy and how it will influence student recruitment.

Top Sub-Disciplines Breakdown by Source Market

These shifts can be further understood when we break down the share of search on a country-to-country basis. Between Australia’s top five source markets of China, India, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Thailand, we can see common themes on what students are looking for at the commencement of their study abroad journeys, with many of the most popular programs being in fields that have been identified as lacking skilled workers.  

In India, Health and Medicine was the most popular choice for students looking to study in Australia, accounting for a significant 24.06% of search share between December 2022 and March 2023. The top sub-disciplines for those looking to study Health and Medicine were Medicine, Nursing, Dentistry and Psychology. 

Health and Medicine also held top spot in Indonesia, with Medicine and Psychology being the top two sub-disciplines in the aforementioned period. It was also most popular in Thailand, where Medicine was the most popular sub-discipline with a 25.36% share of demand, while Psychology and Nursing were not far behind.  

Similarly, the majority of prospective students in Vietnam favoured Health and Medicine, with Psychology being the top sub-discipline at a 23.50% search share, with Medicine showing a 21.75% share of search.

In contrast, Social Studies and Communications is the most sought-after subject area in China, with Media and Sociology the top sub-disciplines.   

Alice Guan, IDP Destination Migration Manager Australia/New Zealand, said these PSW extensions could be a significant drawcard for Australia as an attractive study destination - with several benefits for international students, including the opportunity to gain relevant work experience to help advance their careers.  

“These extensions could help increase an applicant’s employability in Australia, which is especially useful considering it can take around six months to find a job, and employers may be hesitant to hire someone with less than two years remaining on their visa.

“Furthermore, applicants for point-tested visas, such as 189 and 190, can earn more points if they have at least three years of work experience in Australia, something which is now more attainable with these extensions,” said Ms Guan.

Emerging Futures 3

IDP’s most recent market intelligence research and survey, Emerging Futures 3, further reaffirms the importance of PSW for international students, even at the earliest consideration stages of their overseas study planning. From the 20,000+ respondent pool, 72% said they would access a PSW rights visa, with a further 87% saying they were very confident, or somewhat confident they would find work after obtaining a post-study visa.


While Australia’s new employment policies may seem to set it apart from competing destinations, only 53% said they chose Australia as their first choice due to its employment opportunities after graduation which ranked behind Canada and the US. However, 63% said the availability of a PSW rights visa was the main or contributing factor in choosing a destination, indicating PSW rights extensions could provide the competitive leverage Australian institutions have been seeking.

Indeed, the PSW extensions could help address workforce shortages, promote economic growth, and potentially drive diversification by encouraging participation from a greater number of source markets. With the Australia Migration Review underway, further changes are anticipated – what will new changes to PSW policy mean for current and future students? How will student demand respond?  What new market challenges and opportunities will emerge? Only time will tell, but with real-time analytics and world-class data, our suite of IQ tools and services can help institutions navigate the road ahead.

For more actionable insights to help drive your international strategy, download our Emerging Futures 3 infographic report here.

Vincent Dwyer
Vincent Dwyer27 July 2023