Australia’s top universities for graduate employment rates are a long way from the capital cities

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The Graduate Outcome Survey (GOS) 2020 has just been released in November 2020. This survey, funded by the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment, aims to highlight employment outcomes of graduates four months after they finish their degree.

The survey found that regional Australian universities have seen an improvement in the full-time employment rates of their graduates.

The 2020 Graduate Outcomes Survey revealed how the coronavirus pandemic affected the country’s labour market – which included graduate employment outcomes – with employment rates falling from 72.2% in 2019 to 68.7% in 2020.

Full time employment rates across service-based courses were hit the hardest, dropping to 52.8% in communications and 45.8% in creative arts down. The top performing sectors were graduates in pharmacy, with full-time employment rates of 96.4%, rehabilitation (87.3%), medicine (86.7%) and engineering (83%).

The average number of hours worked among graduates dropped, particularly during May. Part-time workers felt the brunt of these losses as they were more likely to work in industries such as food service and accommodation, which had to cut back their operations in light of COVID. Their full-time counterparts, on the other hand, were likely to have the option of work remotely, in sectors like education and financial services.

Universities that produce high full-time employment rates

While most universities experienced a drop in undergraduate full-time employment rates, three universities bucked the trend – and they were all in regional Australia.

The University of Southern Queensland, University of New England and Southern Cross University all saw an improvement in their undergraduate employment rate between 2019 and 2020.

At the University of Southern Queensland, employment rates went up 2.8 percentage points to 78.9%, University of New England rose 2.4 percentage points to 80.6% and Southern Cross University increased 0.2 percentage points to 75.1%.

“Graduates from regional universities are more likely to be older, study externally and part-time and maintain a continuing connection with the labour market which explains, in part, why graduates from these universities may have fared better in the current downturn,” the report said.

Here are the top five universities with the highest full-time undergraduate employment rates in 2020:

  1. 1. Charles Sturt University – 84.7%
  2. 2. University of New England – 80.6%
  3. 3. Charles Darwin University – 79.1%
  4. 4. University of Southern Queensland – 78.9%
  5. 5.James Cook University – 75.9%

Graduate salaries

When looking at the median undergraduate salary, this rose 3.2% from $62,600 in 2019 to $64,700 in 2020. And male graduates still earned more than women.

“Female undergraduates continue to earn less than male undergraduates in 2020, $63,400 compared with $65,000 respectively, a difference of $1,600. This equates to a gender pay gap of 2.5 per cent, decreasing from 4.9 per cent in 2019.”

According to the report, these are the courses with the highest full-time graduate salaries:

  1. 1. Dentistry – $84,000
  2. 2. Medicine – $75,000
  3. 3. Social work – $70,000
  4. 4. Teacher education – $70,000
  5. 5. Engineering – $69,500

On the other end, these are the courses with the lowest graduate salaries:

  1. 1. Communication – $55,600.
  2. 2. Tourism, hospitality, personal services, sport and recreation – $53,500
  3. 3. Creative arts – $52,000
  4. 4. Pharmacy – $49,600

And these are the top five universities with the highest full-time undergraduate salaries after graduation:

  1. 1. University of Southern Queensland – $70,700
  2. 2. University of Tasmania – $70,300
  3. 3. University of New England – $70,000
  4. 4. Central Queensland University – $69,700
  5. 5. Charles Sturt University – $68,900.


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