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More students at university 1: more health, technology and science graduates

More students at university 1: more health, technology and science graduates

As we mark the fifth anniversary of the demand driven system, the data continues to show the positive benefits of a model steered by student agency and university commitment to access.

The IRU regularly monitors data on the discipline choice of students.  We now have sufficient figures on course completions to extend the analysis. The latest data confirms that the demand driven expansion of universities places is raising the number of students studying science and technology degrees and health profession degrees at a much higher rate than the growth in business, law and arts degrees.

This has changed the balance of students by discipline (Figure One).  Graduates in Natural and Physical Sciences have increased from 10% to 12% of all graduates since 2009.  Health graduates have grown from 17% to 20%.  Education graduates have fallen to 9% from 11% over the same period.

Figure One: Percentage of Student Completions by Discipline

 Data sourced from uCube, Department of education on 04/04/2017

This growth trend is evidence of the demand driven system working effectively.  The data shows the system is not imbalanced and is not creating perverse outcomes. There is growth in STEM as a discipline choice with more students completing those degrees.

It undermines the constant assumption that demand driven funding has or will favour expansion only in low cost high charge courses such as law and business.

A leading example was Jennifer Westacott, CEO of the Business Council of Australia who argued to the Universities Australia conference (28 February 2013) that that the demand driven system, would lead universities to avoid high cost courses areas like agriculture and science.  Others have continued to be alarmist, despite the strong, consistent, contrary evidence.

Student enrolments

Against an overall 19% growth in undergraduate students from 2010 to 2015, STEM disciplines show higher than average growth (Figure Two and Figure Three) with:

  • Health enrolments increasing by 31%, or 22,000 additional enrolled students;
  • Natural and physical sciences increased from 68,000 to just under 85,000 or by 25%;
  • Engineering a 22% increase, rising to 35,000 through an extra 6,500 students; and
  • IT also shows a large increase of 4000 students to rise to19,000, a 26% increase.

Figure Two: Growth in Student Enrolments by Discipline, 2010 to 2015 (Percent)

Sourced from Department of Education Student Data 2015 and earlier, Table(s) 4.5

Figure Three: Growth in Student Enrolments by Discipline (EFTSL)

Sourced from Department of Education Student Data 2015 and earlier, Table(s) 4.5

Graduates

Student completions show a similar pattern with a 13% increase in overall completions between 2012 and 2015 (Figure Four and Figure Five). 2012 is used as the base year, with graduates from 2013 increasingly likely to have enrolled following the announcement of demand driven funding.

  • Health graduates increased by 4,000 or 19%.
  • Natural and Physical sciences had a 22% increase, larger than any other, rising from 13,200 completions to over 16,000.
  • Engineering had a 12% increase, or 800 additional students completing degrees.
  • Information Technology went from 3,000 completions to just over 3,500, an increase of 16%.

Figure Four: Change in Student Completions by Discipline, 2012 to 2015 (Percent)

Data sourced from uCube, Department of education on 04/04/2017

Figure Five: Change in Student Completions by Discipline, 2012 to 2015

Data sourced from uCube, Department of education on 04/04/2017

By contrast, the courses where the previous funding system encouraged additional enrolments the growth, since demand driven funding was introduced, is modest.

  • Society and Culture (Including Law) had a 9% increase in student completions.
  • Management and Commerce had a low rate of 6% additional completions.

The change is easing, now that the backlog of interest has been met, with growth in 2014 and 2015 more even across disciplines.

Overall, the enrolment and completion data suggest that the demand driven approach has worked well to support student interest across all discipline areas.  This is important since we need Australians to follow their aspirations and graduate across all disciplines to be ready for the challenges ahead.

 

26 April 2017

 

 

 

Table One: Actual Student Load for all Domestic Bachelor Students by Discipline

Discipline Group 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 Change 2010 to 2015 % Change 2010 – 2015
Health 64,649 71,041 75,485 80,436 84,583 88,631 93,105 22,064 31%
Information Technology 14,838 14,974 15,350 16,086 16,945 18,188 18,831 3,857 26%
Natural and Physical Sciences 63,029 67,987 70,773 75,837 80,936 83,513 84,777 16,790 25%
Creative Arts 42,589 45,685 47,224 49,884 54,040 56,996 56,791 11,106 24%
Engineering and Related Technologies 26,983 28,741 30,118 32,044 33,571 34,681 35,134 6,393 22%
Education 39,911 41,445 42,238 44,767 47,135 48,603 48,119 6,674 16%
Agriculture, Environmental and Related Studies 5,909 6,518 6,621 7,049 7,290 7,499 7,564 1,046 16%
Law 26,265 26,893 26,948 27,381 28,446 29,997 30,906 4,013 15%
Society and Culture (excluding law) 103,806 108,091 111,213 115,361 118,993 120,111 122,088 13,997 13%
Management and Commerce 59,524 60,369 60,531 62,005 64,152 65,286 66,349 5,980 10%
Architecture and Building 11,151 11,258 11,624 11,361 11,251 11,621 11,705 447 4%
Food, Hospitality and Personal Services 141 195 194 202 302 383 351 156 80%
Mixed Field Programs 38 80 86 80 266 422 334 254 318%
TOTAL EFTSL 458,833 483,277 498,405 522,493 547,910 565,931 576,054 92,777 19%

Source: Department of Education Student Data 2015 and earlier, Table(s) 4.5

Table two: Completions for students by Discipline group

  2012 2013 2014 2015 Change 2009 – 2015 % Change 2009 – 2015 Change 2012 – 2015 % Change 2012 – 2015
Health 22,145 24,016 24,937 26,299 7,126 37% 4,154 19%
Information Technology 3,088 3,174 3,322 3,591 551 18% 503 16%
Natural and Physical Sciences 13,237 14,623 15,590 16,133 4,831 43% 2,896 22%
Creative Arts 12,399 12,701 12,833 13,309 2,444 22% 910 7%
Engineering and Related Technologies 6,823 7,027 7,404 7,634 1,562 26% 811 12%
Education 11,059 11,608 12,463 12,514 284 2% 1,455 13%
Agriculture, Environmental and Related Studies 1,918 1,952 1,997 2,057 164 9% 139 7%
Society and Culture (Including law) 30,633 32,499 33,256 33,452 6,199 23% 2,819 9%
Management and Commerce 22,471 22,729 23,440 23,754 777 3% 1,283 6%
Architecture and Building 3,237 3,456 3,223 3,529 739 26% 292 9%
Food, Hospitality and Personal Services 11 6 6 6 -16 -73% -5 -45%
Total Completions 118,444 125,151 129,488 133,476 23,184 21% 15,032 13%

Source: uCube, Department of education on 04/04/2017

Table Three: Percentage of Student Completions by Discipline Per Year

  2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Health 17.4% 17.9% 18.4% 18.7% 19.2% 19.3% 19.7%
Information Technology 2.8% 2.6% 2.6% 2.6% 2.5% 2.6% 2.7%
Natural and Physical Sciences 10.2% 10.6% 10.7% 11.2% 11.7% 12.0% 12.1%
Creative Arts 9.9% 10.4% 10.3% 10.5% 10.1% 9.9% 10.0%
Engineering and Related Technologies 5.5% 5.6% 5.6% 5.8% 5.6% 5.7% 5.7%
Education 11.1% 10.5% 9.5% 9.3% 9.3% 9.6% 9.4%
Agriculture, Environmental and Related Studies 1.7% 1.7% 1.7% 1.6% 1.6% 1.5% 1.5%
Society and Culture (Including law) 24.7% 24.8% 25.5% 25.9% 26.0% 25.7% 25.1%
Management and Commerce 20.8% 20.7% 20.1% 19.0% 18.2% 18.1% 17.8%
Architecture and Building 2.5% 2.6% 2.6% 2.7% 2.8% 2.5% 2.6%
Food, Hospitality and Personal Services 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%

Source: uCube, Department of education on 04/04/2017