The biggest jump in Indigenous higher education enrolments in nearly a decade has been recorded for 2015, according to new student data released today that also highlights record overall enrolment numbers and increases in enrolments of regional and low socio-economic students.
The new data shows more than 1.2 million students were enrolled in higher education in the first half of 2015, up 3.1 per cent on the same period last year.
Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham says “we’re seeing more students enrol than ever before, with strong growth in enrolments from Indigenous students and students from regional areas – who together make up nearly one in five of all domestic enrolments.
“The value of higher education is clear as the new stats show university graduates have an unemployment rate of 3.4 per cent, compared with an overall rate of 5.9 per cent.”
Minister Birmingham said it was encouraging that the number of Australians who had attained a job in the first four months out of education had risen to 68.8 per cent, but the report still highlighted that one third of those finishing an education did not immediately get a job.
“Australians must think carefully about the courses they enrol in to ensure they are entering a course that they are not only passionate about but that has a job at the end,” Minister Birmingham said.
“We also must ensure that the record number of students who are enrolling are being encouraged and supported to complete their degrees – and not just another number on a seat.
“Recent attrition rates show that almost 15 per cent of these Australians do not progress to their second year. Universities must take responsibility for those students they choose to enrol and ensure they have the capabilities and support to succeed.
Minister Birmingham said Higher Education annual funding had increased over the past five years from $12.5 billion to over $16 billion today.
Key findings from the new data include:
- growth in Indigenous students up 7.6 per cent
- growth in regional student enrolments up 2.6 per cent, representing 18.6 per cent (nearly one-in-five) of the total domestic student population (up from 16.7 per cent in 2006)
- increase in students from low socio-economic backgrounds up 3.8 per cent
- strong continued growth in health-related courses, up 7.3 per cent on the same period in 2014, and up 81.7 per cent on same period in 2006
- mixed outcomes in students participating in STEM subjects – engineering and related technology studies up 0.9 per cent while IT down 0.4 per cent.