From The SMH comes a report on the dire situation facing Australia’s university graduates:
Across Australia, about 22 university graduates are competing for every new graduate position and many will need to settle for low-paying entry roles “just to get their foot in the jobs market”, a new national report has found…
Nationally, 130,105 people who recently left university with bachelor degrees are competing for 5783 advertised graduate positions, the report found, based on an analysis of the Department of Education’s university completion data and recent job advertisements.
…some fields, such as law and teaching, are much harder to find work in than others.
“It’s cheap for universities to churn out courses in certain areas, especially degrees outside the sciences with [fewer] contact hours and teachers,” Mr Watson said.
“With deregulation, there are more places and scores drop, but there just aren’t the jobs at the end of it, so you have a huge number of graduates who aren’t needed.
“You end up behind a bar or in some other job that’s unrelated to what you studied. You see a lot of law graduates going into sales or call centres.”
More than 7500 Australian students graduated with law degrees in 2015 but there are about 84 graduate law positions advertised nationally on Adzuna, which captures about 80 per cent of the overall job market.
This equates to about 90 new law graduates per available graduate position.
I have said it before and I will say it again: uncapping of university places was a massive policy blunder and is the biggest driver of the current problems afflicting Australia’s university system.
It has facilitated a form of ‘quantitative easing’, whereby universities have lowered entrance scores and printed as many degrees as possible to accumulate Commonwealth government funding through HELP/HECS loans.
The end result is that the universities have flooded the market with so many graduates that a university degree has lost its value, despite the significant cost to both students and the Budget. The torrent of graduates has also swamped the labour market, which is unable to keep up with the supply.
The situation has, of course, been made worse by Australian universities’ heavy financial dependence on foreign students, and the need to attract, year in and year out, huge numbers of foreign students.
This, too, has contributed to the drop in university standards in a bid to keep student numbers (and profits) flowing.
Given the abject failures of the demand-driven system, I believe that policy should first and foremost look to restrict federal funding and adopt a merit-based system that rations the number of university places based on a detailed assessment of the economy’s needs.