What QILT uncovers: degrees (not just some of them) generate jobs

The Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching 2020 survey of graduate employment outcomes demonstrates degrees deliver

Some of the good news in the new QILT grad employment stats is that the news isn’t new – graduates get jobs.

In 2020, some 90 per cent of 2017 completing undergraduates were employed – down 1.5 per cent from the 2007 figure, but up from 88 per cent in 2013.

Grads off to a quick start: As ever, employment rates reflect labour market demand, emphasised yesterday by the education minister, who flagged graduate outcomes by discipline. Mr Tehan pointed to dentistry, medicine, engineering and teaching all with employment rates in the 90 per cents, three-year post-graduation.

“We are encouraging students to tailor their studies to learn the skills that will be in demand in areas of future jobs growth. That means breaking down the traditional degree ‘silos’ by choosing units of study across disciplines and introducing a price signal to students by making degrees cheaper in areas of expected job growth.

“We want our students to receive an education that sets them up for future success,” Mr Tehan says.

But the lead lessens: Good-o, but outcomes across fields of education tends to narrow over time. QILT points to employment for 2017 creative arts graduates three months out at 53 per cent, it was up to 79 per cent in 2020.

Humanities improved from 61 per cent to 87 per cent and comms grads from 65 per cent to 84 per cent. Grads in some applied disciplines also take a while to get going. Just 61 per cent of some 2017 STEM graduates were working three months after completing 2017, compared to 87 per cent in 2020.

As QILT point out; “while undergraduates from some fields of education, in particular, those with generalist degrees, have weaker employment outcomes soon after completing their course, the gap in employment outcomes across fields of education tends to narrow over time.”

some unis are better than others: QILT is positively mean-spirited in denying hacks headlines and so carefully points out many factors outside universities control shape their employment rates. “It is important to acknowledge that factors beyond the quality of teaching, careers advice and the like, such as course offerings, the composition of the student population and variations in state/territory and regional labour markets, might also impact on employment outcomes.”

But the survey still shows some are more equal than others. The overall UG employment rate three years on is 90.3 per cent. Above average universities include; Australian Catholic U (95.5 per cent), ANU (95.2 per cent), Uni Canberra (94.1 per cent), Charles Sturt U (93.9 per cent), James Cook U (93.8 per cent), UNSW (93.6 per cent) and Charles Darwin U (93 per cent)