The majority of Australian accounting students are now foreign, The Australian Financial Review reports. 79% of Australian graduate accounting students hailed from overseas in 2013, with 55% of international students comprising undergraduate scholars in the field as well. Accounting was only behind business and management enrollment for international students in the Australian collegiate system last year.
Overseas students are being drawn to Australia with the opportunity of a quality education and a potential path to migration, the publication reports. Australian universities, in need of revenue, are more than willing to welcome the students with open arms.
“Accounting students are very important to us; having a set of international students in discipline areas is clearly important to the revenue base,” Robert Brooks, the deputy dean of education at Monash Business School in Melbourne, told the publication. “Part of the story is clearly an [improving] macroeconomic environment, part of the story is around [lower] exchange rates, and part of the story is stability in migration policy around where the students can get employment opportunities."
Accounting is on the Skilled Occupation List - a list of in-demand occupations that allows international graduates to obtain a 485 Temporary Graduate Visa and work in Australia for up to 18 months.
International students, however, may face a tough accounting job market in Australia, despite their majority in universities. Australian employers still prefer domestic accountants or those with permanent residencies, theReviewfurther reports. On top of that, almost one in four domestic accounting graduates are still looking for work within four months after graduation.
“Australia’s large spike in the accounting overseas students program is placing unprecedented pressure on local accounting graduates,” Kelvin Thomson, a Federal Labor member, told the Review. “The claim that Australia is short of accountants is laughable. The level of applicants for each accounting job is the highest of any profession tracked by the Department of Employment.”
“I think the dilemma around the labour market side is some people are doing [accounting] to be accountants and some are doing it to get broad-based business skills,” Robert Brooks added.
In America, international students also comprise a similar majority in graduate programs: U.S. News reports that the University of California-Riverside's A. Gary Anderson Graduate School of Management and Syracuse University's Martin J. Whitman School of Management reported 78% and 68% of their students, respectively, were from outside the U.S. in 2013.