Hard to see any objection to this

UNIVERSITIES are urging the Government to ease immigration restrictions on academics to help head off a looming shortage as large numbers of baby-boomer professors and lecturers retire. Amid the fallout from the global financial crisis, the Government in March moved to cut the permanent skilled migration intake. But universities, which see migration as a way to overcome looming academic skills shortages, are warning that the move could leave the economy short when it recovers.

“There is generally a two-year time lag from immigration policy change to outcome, so as a response to the global financial crisis, this policy will do little to protect the jobs of Australian citizens in the short to medium term,” Vicki Thomson, executive director of the Australian Technology Network group of five universities, said in a briefing paper. “In fact, it has the potential to see the economy left wanting precisely at the time we expect to see improved economic conditions.”

The ATN is lobbying Immigration Minister Chris Evans to ease restrictions on academic migration to make it easier to recruit offshore amid rising competition globally for academics. Between 1994 and 2006, Australian universities employed more than 7000 academics from overseas on permanent or long-term arrangements. “This figure will need to grow expotentially to replace the exodus of academics leaving the workforce in the next 15 years,” the ATN said.

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