The great expansion in undergraduate education is over with no growth in commencing domestic students in 2016 (569 064) over 2015 (595 220). Overall there were 1.457m students enrolled in higher education last year, up 3.3 per cent on 2015. Growth in internationals (7.7 per cent, to 391 136.) far exceeded locals (1.8 per cent to 1 066 703) who still make up a big 73.2 per cent majority of all students.
The Department of Education and Training released the long-awaited 2106 full-year figures yesterday.
Postgraduates drive the overall growth in numbers, up 3.9 per cent to 401 000, while there were just over 1m undergraduates, up 2.9 per cent.
Public universities enrolled 90 per cent of students but while their enrolments expanded by 2.7 per cent private providers grew by 10.2 per cent.
Indigenous student enrolments were up 10.4 per cent in 2016, but they are still significantly under-represented in higher education, accounting for 1.2 per cent of enrolments, (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples accounted for 2.8 per cent of the population in the 2016 census). And there was no growth in low SES commencements, up 0.1 per cent. Students from the bottom quartile of the community now account for 18 per cent of university enrolments.
DET reports growth in work-focused courses, with IT up 19 per cent and architecture and building up 15 per cent although engineers who point to the present reliance of migrants to meet demand will notice enrolments in their area only grew by 3.9 per cent. The number of commencing students in education dropped by 2.6 per cent. As to why enrolments in food, hospitality and personal services grew by 474 per cent, DET reports but does not explain.