International graduates of Australian social work education–where are they now?

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International student numbers entering Australian social work programs have consistently grown in recent years, and subsequent discourse has problematized their educational experiences. However, no known research has described this cohort after graduating or explored their post-study outcomes. An anonymous online survey was conducted with 49 recent Master of Social Work graduates from 16 Australian universities, coming from 15 countries. The study findings suggest that migration to Australia was a key motivator for respondents when enrolling in social work study, with most remaining in the country after graduating. Securing professional employment was challenging for most due to having a temporary visa status; self-reported language barriers; competition with local graduates; and unfamiliarity with the local context. Initial post-study pathways were shown to be distinctly challenging for this cohort, due both to an individual sense of difference and to systemic barriers connected to migration policy and locally held biases. Despite this, many graduates persisted in their pursuance of a social work career. Further in-depth examination of the transition from international student to practitioner is required to understand the post-study experiences for this graduate cohort. Such information can also contribute to more inclusive settings in social work education where international students’ capacities are more widely recognized.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1286-1306
Number of pages21
JournalSocial Work Education
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2023


  • employment
  • international students
  • migration
  • newly qualified social workers
  • Social work education
  • student mobility

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