Brain Gain – Australian Population Growth Factor

You must have heard about brain drain, which is when educated and skilled people leave their country to settle into the more developed and advanced countries. In search of better opportunities, many people leave their country for better education, standard of living or better career and salaries.

Just like many developed countries, Australia has certainly been benefitted by attracting skilled and talented people to migrate to Australia. Australia has kept its doors open for international students to acquire their degrees and play their role in boosting Australia’s economy. According to the recent figures released by ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics), the number of international students coming to Australia has increased upto additional 8 percent in the last year as compare to previous years.

It will not be wrong to say that International students have fuelled the growth of Australia, not just economically but also in terms of its population. Sydney and Melbourne both have accounted significant increase in the number of migrants by 63 percent in Melbourne and 82 percent in Sydney. The data shows that in this year the number of international student’s enrolments have exceeded from 500,000 within the first 2 months only, which is almost 12 percent over as compare to the similar time period in previous year.

CEO of International Education Association of Australia says. “We’ve got in many cases the best and the brightest young people from around the world.” ABS on the other hand could not specify the exact contribution of international students to this expanded pool of residents, but on its most recent figures, foreign students accounted for about 43 percent of net overseas migration to Sydney and Melbourne.

It is pretty obvious that Australia has experienced a significant brain gain, from around the world, by letting people study and settle in Australia. In a way it seems like a best policy for the country, to let people invest into country’s education industry, economy and their future, but there are many alarming concerns, like job markets are not just filled with deserving candidates, but over flowing especially in big cities like Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

The question here is that if Australia has planned to accommodate this huge influx of migrants. The population of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth have increased by 3 million additional people in past 10 years. Australia certainly need a population policy to manage this growth of population. The Infrastructure Australia has claimed that unless all the levels of government plan ahead for the time to come, there will be less schooling, less jobs and less housing available for Australians.

Growth in population was encouraged by the Howard government, and it was the changes in immigration policies, which created new visa streams to attract skilled workers and students to Australia. Record shows that 63 percent of Australia’s population growth came from immigration, and about 2.7 million people have been added in Australia’s population only through migration itself since 2005.

A recent article by Jackson Gothe-Snape, published on ABC News website, quoted the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who said. “There are around 200,000 more foreign students in Australia today than there were a few years ago”, He further mentioned “That is the single biggest driving factor (of immigration growth).

The point is that Australia must plan to manage a larger population, as it has sort of become mandatory for the current and future governments. A prominent demographer Liz Allen from ANU University says that migrants were vital for the workforce to function properly. “Migrants are filling a need – the jobs that Australians don’t want or are not skilled for,” she said. “And more importantly, immigrants actually drive up demand.”

Human capital factor doesn’t allow Australia to change its immigration policy, due to the huge input by migrants into the Australia’s economy. Therefore, developments and proper planning is highly required to manage the expected increase in Australia’s population in forthcoming times.



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