Bureau of Statistics: record levels of Australians are leaving the country

22 June 2018

Bureau of Statistics: record levels of Australians are leaving the country

Record levels of Australian residents are leaving the country to live abroad, according to new figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Almost 85,000 people formally left Australia in the final three months of 2017, increasing the figures by almost 9,000 during the same period in 2016.

Experts are not certain as to why the numbers are increasing so dramatically.

The ABS defines a “resident of Australia” as someone who has lived within the country for 12 out of the past 16 months, which includes foreign students who are living on temporary visas.

Anthony Grubb, director of demography at the ABS, says that the “preliminary” figures show a “significant increase” in departures of foreign students.

One-third of the departures have been Australian citizens moving overseas, while almost one-half are temporary visa holders such as foreign students, foreign backpackers and 457 visa workers ending their stay.

The rise in departures has been speculated to be due to foreign students leaving at the end of the academic year, Macquarie University Professor of demographics Nick Parr said, although he added that it was too early to say that this was definitive.

“In the past, temporary arrivals have been up and I would expect to see a bit of a lagged trend between the departures and arrivals on a long-term basis,” Professor Parr said.

Department of Education figures show that there has been a significant rise in foreign student enrolment, from around 300,000 five years ago to 540,000 in February 2018.

Mr Parr said that the tightening of employment policies for immigrants could also be a contributing factor to the rise in departures, saying that: “It may be that with the tightening of the criteria of employer nominations that there is less of a flow-on from previous 457 visas to permanent visas, and other temporary residents getting permanent resident visas through that route,” he said.

Across the year however, 240,000 more people came to live in Australia than those who departed.