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Course completions in higher education



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M I N I S T E R F O R

H igher E ducation and E mployment S ervices T H E H O N . P E T E R B A L D W I N M . P .

B12 13/3/92

COURSE COMPLETIONS IN HIGHER EDUCATION

Over 94,000 students completed courses in higher education in 1990, an increase of 28,000 over 1981, the Minister for Higher Education and Employment Services, Peter Baldwin, said today.

"This represents a 42 percent increase over the decade," the Minister said.

Institutions are also projecting a further annual increase of 34%, to over 126,000 annual completions by 1993 .

"The target of 115,000 graduates per year, put forward in the Government's 1987 Green Paper on higher education, is likely to be exceeded nine years ahead of schedule," Mr Baldwin said.

Mr Baldwin was releasing 1 Course Completions', Report No. 13 in the Higher Education Series on the composition and characteristics of Australia's higher education students, produced by the Department of Employment Education and Training (DEBT).

Women continued to increase their share of course completions, accounting for 56 percent of completions at all levels of study in 1990.

At the higher degree level women accounted for 36 percent of completions in 1990, a significant increase on the 1981 figure of only 26 percent.

The fields in which students have completed courses have also changed somewhat over the 1980s. The largest growth occured in business and health, the latter being partly attributable to the transfer of nursing from hospitals to higher education.

While the numbers of graduates have increased in all main fields, the increases in the annual number of completions in Science (up by more than 3,000) and Arts (5,000) between 1981 and 1990 were particularly noteworthy.

Undergraduate course completions increased by some 35 percent over the 1980s, almost all at the Bachelor degree level. Post-graduate completions increased by 75 percent.

COMMONWEALTH parliamentary library MICAH

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Completions at all levels of study are expected to continue to grow strongly over the next three years, expecially research-based higher degrees.

Copies of the report can be obtained from the Communications Section, Higher Education Division, DEBT, on (06) 276 7090.

Media Enquiries: Sarah Taylor Minister Baldwin's Office (06) 277 7540

©Apartment of Employment, Education and Training

REPORT NO.13 JANUARY 1992

Introduction This report is the thirteenth in a series providing information on higher education in Australia. Its main source of data is the Department's annual

higher education student statistical collection, which provides information on past and projected course

completions.

The report covers all students completing courses at Australian higher education institutions, that is, figures include overseas students.

Because of a difficulty which has been identified during this analysis with the definition of overseas students in relation to course completions, we have not been able to provide separate analyses for Australian and overseas students.

Reference is also made to the annual survey of recent graduates conducted by the Graduate Careers Council of Australia (GCCA).

Overall trends In 1990 over 94,000 higher education students completed courses. This represented a rise of 28,000, or 42%, from the 66,000 students who

completed courses in 1981 (Table 1). Reflecting the very strong growth in student commencements which has taken place since 1988, institutions are projecting that annual completions will rise by a further 34%,

Table 1 Higher education course completions 1981, 1984 to 1990 actual, 1991 to 1993 projected — some key statistics

Year Completions Annual

Growth Rate %

Share of total higher education completions (%)

Males Females Total Female Postgraduate

(2)

Actual:

1981 33394 32852 66246 - 49.6 19.1

1984 35344 34943 70287 2.0(1) 49.7 21.2

1985 36508 36927 73435 4.5 50.3 22.0

1986 38161 39620 77781 5.9 50.9 21.9

1987 37533 42724 80257 3.2 53.2 22.6

1988 39705 47145 86850 8.2 54.3 23.9

1989 40340 50142 90482 4.2 55.4 23.6

1990 41624 52775 94399 4.3 55.9 23.3

Projected(3):

1991 n.a. n.a. 111596 18.2 n.a. 27.0

1992 n.a n.a. 119713 7.3 n.a. 27.1

1993 n.a n.a. 126332 5.5 n.a. 26.4

Growth over.

1981-90 (%) 24.6 60.6 42.5

1990-93 (%) (proj) 33.8

(1) Estimated average annual growth rate.

(2) Excludes Bachelor Postgraduate degrees for years prior to 1987.

(3) Projections exclude a small number of institutions, n.a. not available

HIGHLIGHTS O In 1990, over 94,000 higher education students completed courses, up 28,000 or 42% on the number completing courses in 1981.

O About three-quarters of the 1990 completions were at the undergraduate level (principally Bachelor degrees) and one-quarter postgraduate (principally postgraduate diplomas).

O Postgraduate completions increased as a proportion of total completions over the 1980s, a trend that is projected to continue.

O The number of Australian students completing an initial higher education qualification is currently estimated at around 50,000 per annum.

Female students accounted for over 50% of both undergraduate and postgraduate completions in 1990. While they represented only 38% of masters degrees and 30% of PhDs and higher doctorates, their share of completions at the higher degree level has grown over the decade.

to over 126,000, by 1993 (Table 1). While this projection seems a little optimistic (especially in relation to 1991), it suggests that the target of

115,000 graduates per annum put forward in the Government’s 1987 Green Paper on higher education(l) will be exceeded in 1992, some nine years ahead of schedule.

Level of course The 94,000 students completing courses in 1990 comprised about three-quarters completing

undergraduate level courses and one quarter postgraduate courses.

As Table 1 and Figure 1 indicate, growth over the 1980s was fastest at the postgraduate level. Postgraduate completions increased from 19% to 23% of total completions over the decade. Institutions’ projections suggest that the postgraduate share will rise further between 1990 and

1993.

Undergraduate completions The bulk of the 72,000 undergraduate course completions in 1990 were at the Bachelor degree level, which accounted for 80% of all

undergraduate completions. The remaining undergraduate completions were at the diploma and associate diploma levels (Table 2).

Undergraduate completions in aggregate rose by 35% between 1981 and 1990. This growth was distributed unevenly across levels, with Bachelor completions growing particularly strongly, rising from 38,000 in 1981 to over 58,000 in 1990. Institutions’ projections suggest that Bachelor degrees will continue to be the most rapidly growing level of undergraduate award between 1990 and 1993.

Data from the GCCA shows that of those students who have newly completed an undergraduate course, about one quarter already have a

degree or diploma. Thus the number of Australian students completing an initial higher education qualification is currently estimated at around 50,000 per annum.

Postgraduate completions Just over 60% of the 22,000 postgraduate completions in 1990 were postgraduate diplomas. There were 4,000 Masters coursework degree completions, with the other

postgraduate levels each contributing fewer than 2,000 completions (Table 3).

Postgraduate completions grew by nearly 75% over the 1980s, with the number of students completing

Masters degrees by coursework more than doubling. Institutions expect continued strong growth at all postgraduate levels over 1990-93, but with research-based higher degrees representing an increasing proportion of postgraduate completions.

Table 2 Undergraduate course completions, by level, 1981,1984 to 1993

Year Bachelor

Pass & Honours (V

Diploma Associate Diploma

Total undergraduate ’

No. Annual

growth rate (%)

Female (%)

Actual:

1981 38101 12439 3092 53603(2) - 50.4

1984 42747 8913 3679 55370(2) 1.1 50.8

1985 44299 8956 3992 57266(2) 3.4 51.6

1986 47233 n.a. n.a. 60725(2) 6.0 51.9

1987 48421 9749 3854 62089(3) 2.2 54.4

1988 51212 10454 4422 66088 6.4 55.2

1989 54093 10732 4344 69169 4.7 56.2

1990 58182 10629 3557 72368 4.6 57.0

Projected(4):

1991 67544 10088 3612 81444(3) 12.5 n.a.

1992 73277 9980 3717 87245(3) 7.1 n.a.

1993 78448 10817 3492 93032(3) 6.6 n.a.

Growth over:

1981-90 (%) 52.7 -14.6 15.0 35.0

1990-93 (%) (proj) 34.8 1.8 -1.8 28.6

(1) Includes Bachelor Postgraduate degrees for years prior to 1987.

(2) Discrepancies between sums and totals due to inconsistencies in original data.

(3) Includes ‘other award’ categories.

(4) Projections exclude a small number of institutions.

Table 3 Postgraduate course completions, by level, 1981,1984 to 1993

A. Higher Degree

Year Higher Degree Research Masters

Course-work

Total higher degree

PhD and Higher Doctorate

Masters Research Total No. Annual

growth rate (%)

Female (%)

Actual:

1981 1729 (1) 1729 1561 3290 - 25.9

1984 1482 (1) 1482 2680 4162 8.8 27.5

1985 1640 (1) 1640 2687 4327 4.0 28.8

1986 1792 (1) 1792 2908 4700 8.6 31.6

1987 1011 722 1733 2522 4255 -9.5 32.3

1988 1200 889 2089 2986 5075 19.3 33.0

1989 1258 851 2109 3176 5285 4.1 35.2

1990 1401 787 2188 4037 6225 17.8 36.3

Projected(2):

1991 1755 1669 3424 5779 9203 47.8 n.a.

1992 1829 2012 3841 6850 10691 16.2 n.a.

1993 2072 2173 4245 7836 12081 13.0 n.a.

Growth over:

1981-90 (%) 26.5 158.6 89.2

1990-93 (%) (proj) 47.9 176.1 94.0 94.1 94.1

B. Non higher degree and total postgraduate

Year Post­

graduate Diploma

All non higher degree(3)

Total postgraduate

No. Annual growth rate (%) Female (%)

Actual:

1981 n.a. 9353 12643 - 46.0

1984 n.a. 10755 14917 6.0 45.8

1985 n.a. 11842 16169 8.4 45.7

1986 n.a. 12356 17056 5.5 47.6

1987 12893 13913 18168 6.5 49.4

1988 11960 15687 20762 14.3 51.3

1989 12424 16028 21313 2.7 52.7

1990 13512 15806 22031 3.4 52.4

Projected(2):

1991 16979 20949 30152 36.9 n.a.

1992 17540 21777 32468 7.7 n.a.

1993 18041 21219 33300 2.6 n.a.

Growth over:

1981-9 0(% ) 69.0 74.3

1990-93 (%) (proj) 33.5 34.2 51.2

(1) Masters research not available separately, included in Higher Doctorate/PhD for these years.

(2) Projections exclude a small number of institutions.

(3) Includes Postgraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Qualifying, Graduate Certificate and, from 1987, Bachelor Postgraduate. Bachelor Postgraduate degrees are included in undergraduate course completions prior to 1987.

Sex - Females steadily increased their share of undergraduate, postgraduate and total completions over the 1980s

(Tables 1 -3). In 1990 they accounted for over half the completions at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

As Figure 2 shows, however, females’ shares in 1990 varied considerably between individual course levels, ranging from 79% (at the undergraduate diploma level) to 30% (at the PhD/higher doctorate level). At the postgraduate level, they accounted for a majority of

postgraduate diploma and qualifying completions, but a minority of higher degree completions. Females increased their share of higher degree completions over the decade, from 26% in 1981 to 36% in 1990.

Field of study The majority of the courses completed in 1990 were in three broad fields of study: arts, business and education (Table 4).

In absolute terms, growth over the 1980s was highest in business and health(2), where the numbers more than doubled (Figure 3). It was lowest in education and veterinary science.

In proportional terms, the most notable change in the distribution of completions by field of study over the 1980s was the sharp drop in education, from 34% to 24%. Other significant changes were the rises in

health and business.

Institutions project a further rise in business’s share of total completions between 1990 and 1993, a further fall in education’s and — notably, given the common perception that arts is a field in decline — an increase in the

share of arts.

Male and female students have different patterns of completions by field (Table 4), consistent with their enrolment patterns.

Completions by institution

Figure 1 Course completions by level, 1981 to 1993(1)

140 120

-g 100

« 80

CO

8 60

jE 40

20 0

(1) Bachelor Postgraduate degrees were included in Undergraduate completions prior to 1987. 1991 -1993 figures are projections only and exclude a small number of institutions.

Postgraduate Undergraduate

1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1981

Figure 2 Females’ share of course completions by level, 1990 (%)

100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20

10

Bachelor Diploma Associate diploma

PhD & Masters Masters Postgraduate Other higher research coursework diploma postgraduate doctorate

Figure 3 All course completions by field of study, 1981,1990 and 1993

γγΠ

Science Other fields(1) Business Education Engineering Health Law Arts

E 3 1981 I 11990 ΙΞΞ11993 (projected)

(1) Includes Agriculture (1221,1602 and 1551 in 1981,1990 and 1991 respectively), Architecture (1192,1966, and 2555) and Veterinary Science (330,354, and 431). In 1981, it also includes a small number of completions that could not be allocated to a field.

Table 4

Table 5 shows the number of course completions in 1990 (in total, and at higher degree level) at each institution in Australia.

Higher degree completions were concentrated in the larger institu­ tions, with 17 institutions producing nearly 90% of the total. The University

of New South Wales reported the largest number of higher degree completions (1,084). Other major producers of higher degrees were the University of Melbourne (549), the University of Queensland (548) and

the University of Sydney (465).

Course completions, by sex and field of study, 1990

Field of study Males Females Persons

(No.) (%) (No.) (%) (No.) (%)

Agriculture 1111 2.7 491 0.9 1602 1.7

Architecture 1359 3.3 607 1.2 1966 2.1

Arts 6122 14.7 13403 25.4 19525 20.7

Business 10092 24.2 6695 12.7 16787 17.8

Education 6240 15.0 16541 31.3 22781 24.1

Engineering 4673 11.2 483 0.9 5156 5.5

Health 2792 6.7 8161 15.5 10953 11.6

Law 1738 4.2 1493 2.8 3231 3.4

Science 7327 17.6 4717 8.9 12044 12.8

Veterinary Science 170 0.4 184 0.3 354 0.4

Total 41624 100.0 52775 100.0 94399 100.0

Destinations of course completers The GCCA’s survey of 1990 graduates shows that, as at 30 April

1991, the main activities of Bachelor degree and diploma graduates were:

• participating in the full-time labour force i.e. either working full-time or seeking full-time work (66%); • undertaking further, full-time

study (23%); • working or studying overseas (4%); and • other activities (but not seeking

full-time work) (7%).

Of interest from a policy perspective is the success of recent degree and diploma graduates in obtaining full­ time employment. The 1991 GCCA survey shows that of the 66% of 1990 graduates who were in the full-time labour force at 30 April 1991, about three-quarters were employed (many of these would, of course, have been employed while they were studying) with the remaining quarter unemployed and seeking full-time work(3). Reflecting the general state of the labour market, the percentage who were seeking full-time work at 30 April 1991 was significantly higher than the corresponding figure for

1990.

The data also shows that graduates from different fields have different degrees of success in obtaining

employment. Further information is contained in the survey report which is expected to be available for purchase through GCCA’s office in

Melbourne (03 347 4644) from late February.

Further copies Additional copies of this and earlier publications in the Series are available from the Higher Education

Division of DEET by telephoning (06) 276 7551. If you would like to be placed on the mailing list, please contact the same number.

Principal authors of this report were Ian Lucas on (06) 276 7138 and Mirella Wilson on (06) 276 7037.

(1) J.S. Dawkins, Higher Education: a Policy Discussion Paper. AGPS, December 1987. The commonly quoted figure of 125,000 graduates by 2001 included a projected 10,000 graduates from TAPE institutions.

(2) The health figures largely reflect the transfer of nursing from hospitals to the higher education system.

(3) As the GCCA figures on unemployment relate to new graduates, they cannot be compared directly with the unemployment rate estimates produced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). ABS data shows that graduates as a whole fare better in the labour market than non-graduates.

Table 5 ■*

Higher education course completions, selected statistics by institution, 1990

Institution and Higher degree Total completions *

State/Territory

N o . A s % o t

c o m p le tio n s

a t th e

in s titu tio n

No. A s %

o f

to ta l

c o m p le tio n s

Aust Film, Television & Radio School 0 0.0 17 (1)

Avondale College 0 0.0 150 0.2

Catholic College of Education, Sydney 31 3.6 854 0.9

Charles Sturt University 11 0.5 2437 2.6

Macquarie University 439 18.2 2408 2.6

National Inst of Dramatic Art 0 0.0 35 (1)

University of New England 223 7.6 2923 3.1

University of New South Wales 1084 24.5 4418 4.7

University of Newcastle 48 2.5 1915 2.0

University of Sydney 465 8.5 5450 5.8

University of Technology, Sydney 236 5.3 4479 4.7

University of Western Sydney 38 1.5 2466 2.6

University of W ollongong 226 11.7 1931 2.0

TOTAL NEW SOUTH WALES 2801 9.5 29483 31.2

Ballarat CAE 6 0.7 804 0.9

Bendigo CAE 5 0.7 707 0.7

Chisholm Institute of Technology 7 0.4 1634 1.7

Deakin University 118 8.1 1448 1.5

Footscray Institute of Technology 22 1.9 1169 1.2

Gippsland Institute of Advanced Educ. 0 0.0 735 0.8

Hawthorn Institute 0 0.0 804 0.9

Institute of Catholic Education 0 0.0 792 0.8

La Trobe University 120 4.2 2879 3.0

Marcus Oldham FM C 0 0.0 32 (1)

Monash University 445 12.8 3480 3.7

Phillip Institute of Technology 6 0.4 1626 1.7

Royal Melbourne Institute of Tech 144 6.0 2397 2.5

Swinburne Limited 12 1.2 1019 1,1

The Western Institute 0 0.0 144 0.2

The W odonga Institute of Tertiary Ed’n 0 0.0 17 ( D

University of Melbourne 549 10.9 5044 5.3

Victoria College 2 0.1 1862 2.0

Victorian College of Agric. and Hortic. 0 0.0 204 0.2

Victorian Arts 3 1.5 196 0.2

Victorian College of Pharmacy 13 9.4 139 0.1

Warrnambool Inst, of Advanced Ed’n 2 0.5 436 0.5

TOTAL VICTORIA 1454 5.3 27568 29.2

Brisbane CAE 5 0.2 2269 2.4

Gold Coast CAE 0 0.0 136 0.1

Griffith University 47 3.2 1462 1.5

James Cook University of North Old 84 8.5 990 1.0

McAuley College 0 0.0 313 0.3

Queensland Conservatorium of Music 0 0.0 99 0.1

Queensland University of Technology 66 2.8 2346 2.5

University College of Central Old 12 1.4 842 0.9

University College of Southern Qld 2 0.2 1310 1.4

University of Queensland 548 11.7 4677 5.0

TO TAL QUEENSLAND 764 5.3 14444 15.3

Curtin University of Technology 80 2.6 3025 3.2

Murdoch University 68 6.3 1082 1.1

University of Western Australia 292 12.1 2406 2.5

Western Australian CAE 4 0.1 3012 3.2

TO TAL W ESTERN AUSTRALIA 444 4.7 9525 10.1

Flinders University of South Australia 107 10.7 1000 1.1

Roseworthy Agricultural College 0 0.0 186 0.2

South Australian Institute of Tech 36 2.2 1654 1.8

South Australian CAE 0 0.0 2995 3.2

University of Adelaide 162 8.3 1957 2.1

TO TAL SOUTH AUSTRALIA 305 3.9 7792 8.3

Australian Maritime College 0 0.0 76 0.1

Tasmanian State Institute of Tech 21 3.1 669 0.7

University of Tasmania 52 4.6 1137 1.2

TO TAL TASMANIA 73 3.9 1882 2.0

Batchelor College 0 0.0 40 (1)

Northern Territory University 5 1.2 410 0.4

TO TAL NORTHERN TERRITORY 5 1.1 450 0.5

Australian Defence Force Academy 52 19.9 261 0.3

Australian National University 305 23.8 1279 1.4

Canberra CAE 22 1.4 1519 1.6

Canberra Institute of the Arts 0 0.0 89 0.1

Signadou College 0 0.0 107 0.1

TO TAL AUST. CAPITAL TERRITORY 379 11.6 3255 3.4

TOTAL AUSTRALIA 6225 6.6 94399 100.0

(1) Percentage less than 0.1.

ISSN 1034-9960