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Increasing university applications and students show strong interest in higher education.

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The Hon Julia Gillard MP

Minister for Education. Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Minister for Social Inclusion Deputy Prime Minister

9 September, 2009

Media release

Increasing university applications and students show strong interest in higher education

The Minister for Education, Julia Gillard, has today announced that university applications have grown by 5.6 per cent this year - the largest increase since 2002 - while the number of students in higher education in Australia continued to grow in 2008, reaching 1,066,095.

The figures were released in the Undergraduate Applications, Offers and Acceptances 2009 report, and the Selected Higher Education Statistics report.

The Rudd Government is working to increase the proportion of 25-34 year-old Australians with bachelor level qualifications to 40 per cent by 2025, and these figures are a promising increase over last year.

Offers and acceptances

The Undergraduate Applications, Offers and Acceptances 2009 report released today shows strong growth across much of the university sector but particularly in areas like science, engineering and dentistry.

Unmet demand for university places in 2009 is estimated to be 18,500. This is a significant increase on last year’s figure (12,600). It is lower than peak levels of 36,100 in 2004 in the current series which began in 2001.

The Rudd Government is providing an additional $490.6 million over the next four years to assist in the growth of university places, with a further $437 million to target students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

This funding will enable an additional 50,000 students to commence university by 2013 and produce 217,000 additional graduates by 2025.

Today’s report showed that applications for science courses are 17 per cent higher this year, reversing declining interest and falling applications since 2004.

Graduates who take up employment in related occupations, including teaching these subjects in secondary schools, will receive reductions in HECS-HELP payments and debts.

Applications for nursing are up 6 per cent this year, but demand for education has fallen by 3 per cent in 2009. Demand for dentistry increased strongly by 25 per cent in 2009.

The Government introduced measures in the 2009-10 Budget to increase funding for nursing and education courses and lower HELP debt repayments for those working in nursing and teaching professions.

Demand for engineering courses increased for the fourth year in a row, up by 10 per cent in 2009 in response to strong growth in mining and construction despite the global recession.

A copy of the report Undergraduate Applications, Offers and Acceptances 2009 can be found on the DEEWR website.

Selected Higher Education Statistics

The Selected Higher Education Statistics Report released today shows strong growth in the number of students enrolling at university.

In 2008, the number of students at public universities grew 2.6 per cent to 1,002,003.

Domestic students increased to 771,932, up 2.0 per cent from 2007. The rise in domestic students at public universities was 1.2 per cent to 731,283.

The report shows that medicine (16.1 per cent) and architecture and building (up 15.6 per cent) grew strongly, with more modest increases in agriculture, environmental and related studies (up 8.2 per cent), information technology (up 6.3 per cent) and health (up 5.7 per cent), mostly at public universities.

New enrolments also increased in management and commerce (up 7.2 per cent).

The broad field of education showed the largest increase for students at private providers, up 25.5 per cent from 9,504 to 11,931.

The total number of enrolments for Indigenous students in higher education in 2008 increased 1.7 per cent and new enrolments increased 7.1 per cent. The majority of Indigenous students are enrolled at public universities, where there was an increase of 0.8 per cent and 5.7 per cent in commencing Indigenous students.

Tables and a summary analysis of higher education student statistics for 2008 are available on the DEEWR website.

Deputy Prime Minister’s Press Office Phone: 02 6277 7758 Deputy Prime Minister’s Press Office Email: DEEWR Media: Non-media queries: 1300 363 079