Visa restrictions for international law graduates are set to be relaxed following the intervention of Queensland Premier Anna Bligh.
At last week's Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting, Bligh secured support for three-year working visas for international graduates in areas of skills shortages. She led the states and territories in asking the Commonwealth to evaluate this idea to stop the slide in international student numbers.
"Australia is on the cusp of a resources boom and we are facing a looming skills crisis," Bligh said.
"We shouldn't be discouraging young, enthusiastic workers who are keen to fill these roles ... but the 2009 changes to arrangements for student visas have been really hurting this market. It was imperative that we act, and act decisively."
Bligh said the resources sector alone would generate 38,000 jobs over the next few years and as such there would be unprecedented opportunities for graduates in key disciplines such as law, engineering, environmental science, metallurgy, hospitality, accounting and management.
"Queensland has a bright future ahead and I want to make sure that is secure," she said. "[The] agreement means not only growing Queensland's vital industries but ensuring we have the skilled workforce to do this."
The Commonwealth has committed to releasing the Knight Review of the student visa program and to work with the states and territories to develop a response by October.