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Graduate outcomes brought into focus

A report by the Grattan Institute into higher education outcomes released last month has found male university students with low school results would be better off pursuing vocational education.

Risks and rewards: when is vocational education a good alternative to higher education? found vocational alternatives to university are worth considering for male students in those circumstances.

“Schools need to give them better career advice alerting them to these possibilities – and governments should end funding biases against vocational education,” the report said.

Risks and rewards also found vocational education alternatives for women are less attractive.

“Few women enrol in vocational education engineering, and those who do often have poor career and earnings outcomes.

“Teaching and nursing are popular university courses for low-ATAR women, and often lead to stable careers. These students are unlikely to do better in a vocational education course,” it said.

The 2018 CIT Annual Report showed that in 2018, 91% of CIT graduates were employed or in further study, compared with 84% nationally, and 82% of CIT graduates were employed after training, compared with 72% nationally.

Locally, Canberra vocational training boasts the second highest employment outcomes nationally, according to an ACT Government spokesperson.

They said vocational training in the ACT provides Canberrans, including school leavers, with pathways to meaningful employment.

“The ACT also had the highest proportional increase of any state or territory in the number of students in government-funded vocational education and training (VET) in 2018 and, in recent years, has seen an increase in the completion rates for VET students.

“VET and the higher education sector are both important pathways into a career,” they said.

A University of Canberra (UC) spokesperson said their institution has the highest starting salary and graduate outcomes in the ACT.

The UC spokesperson said women, and most men, are broadly far better off with a university degree.

“It is important to note that the recent Grattan Institute report identified that only some male students with low ATARs may be financially better off with a trade qualification in male-dominated areas such as engineering.”

“According to the 2018 Graduate Outcomes Survey, the University of Canberra’s graduate employment rate is 89%, which is above the national average.

“UC graduates’ starting salaries across all study areas are on average $60,000 per year, above the national university average of $58,000.”

Skilling Australia’s 2017 report Perceptions Are Not Reality showed while university enrolments continued to rise, the proportion of university graduates in full-time employment post-graduation fell in the years from 2008 to 2014.

“The proportion of bachelor degree graduates in full-time employment fell from 86% to 68% (the lowest number in three decades) and still remains low at 69%,” it said.

“Comparatively, 78% of VET graduates are employed after training and 82% of graduates who participated in VET as a part of an apprenticeship or traineeship are employed after training.”

ANU was contacted for comment regarding graduate outcomes but did not reply by print deadline.

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