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Graduate success

It can be hard to rate graduate success. Is it whether you get a job when you graduate, how much money you earn, or perhaps your overall satisfaction with your course?

How graduate success is defined varies between students — after all, no two people ever have an identical course experience. For some students, a measure of success is passing their course; for others, it’s graduating with honours and being offered a top-paying job with a prestigious employer.

So how do graduates of your field rate their experience? Our Ratings section shows how institutions performed in each field of study in categories such as employment outcomes, graduate starting salary and teaching quality.

In this section we cover:

Graduate outcomes for VET graduates

Female in hardhat at construction site

In its Student Outcomes Survey (2014), the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) found that around 77.6 per cent of students who completed a VET program in 2013 were able to find work within six months of graduation. In addition, 35 per cent were engaged in further training — whether completing higher-level VET study or a higher education program.

The fields with the best employment prospects include:

  • education (89.1 per cent)
  • architecture and building (86.5 per cent)
  • engineering and related technologies (83.6 per cent).

Fields with lower prospects include mixed-field programs, with 46.2 per cent of students finding employment within six months, information technology (56.4 per cent) and creative arts (64.8 per cent).

As for satisfaction with courses, VET graduates are a happy bunch! Almost 90 per cent of 2013 students were satisfied with the quality of training provided, with most noting that they had fully or partly achieved their main reason for completing their training.

Graduate outcomes for university graduates

Outcomes for undergraduates

Female in graduation gown and cap

Employment rates for bachelor degree graduates are strong — with around 68 per cent finding work within four months of completing their course, according to the most recent national Course Experience Questionnaire survey (Graduate Careers Australia 2014). Of course, this varies between fields of study — some have notoriously low employment rates, usually because there is high competition for available entry-level jobs, while graduates of others have much better success rates.

Fields with the best employment prospects include:

  • medicine (98 per cent)
  • pharmacy (94 per cent)
  • surveying (84 per cent).

There are a number of reasons why some fields outperform others. Medicine and pharmacy, for example, have compulsory training periods that graduates must complete in order to become qualified. Likewise, surveying graduates enjoy strong prospects due to industry demand.

Fields where work is hardest to come by include communications (with 40 per cent of graduates seeking work) and creative arts (with 47 per cent of graduates searching for full-time work four months after course completion). It is worth keeping in mind, though, that lower employment prospects do not make studying a certain field not worthwhile. Tertiary study is all about exploring your interests and passions, and, depending on your circumstances, may not mean landing a job the minute you graduate.

Graduate salaries also vary widely, with dentistry ($78,837), engineering ($63,841) and medicine ($60,526) coming in at the top end of the scale, and fields such as architecture ($39,656), pharmacy ($39,483) and creative arts ($42,299) faring a little worse.

In terms of graduates’ overall satisfaction, graduates from the fields of environmental studies, humanities and social sciences, paralegal studies, rehabilitation, sciences and social work were the most satisfied with their chosen field, while graduates of accounting, architecture, built environment, dentistry, economics and pharmacy were least satisfied.

See the Ratings section for details about your field and its prospects.

Outcomes for postgraduates

According to the recent national Course Experience Questionnaire survey (Graduate Careers Australia 2013), students who completed postgraduate degrees were more likely to find work than undergraduates — enjoying an employment rate of approximately 83 per cent. It is, however, worth noting that this varies significantly between the different fields of study. As is the case among undergraduates, different fields have different job prospects for graduates — something that may be due to skills shortages, competitive fields or otherwise.

The fields with the best employment prospects include:

  • nursing (96 per cent)
  • pharmacy (95 per cent)
  • medicine (94 per cent)
  • veterinary science (93 per cent).

Lower-performing fields include accounting (with 48 per cent still seeking work after four months) and computing and information technology (40 per cent). Interestingly, fields with quite low employment prospects among undergraduates — communications, for instance — are much kinder to postgraduates. For example, while 40 per cent of communications undergraduates were seeking work four months after graduation, this compares to just 28 per cent of postgraduates.

Again, graduate salaries among postgraduates vary depending on the field of study — and will also vary within different roles and work types across each of these. The highest-paid fields of study include dentistry ($113,351), business and management ($98,767) and engineering and technology ($98,204). Meanwhile, fields with lower salaries include architecture ($49,612) and pharmacy ($54,929).

Satisfaction among postgraduates is a bit of a mixed bag. For example, while fields such as dentistry, environmental studies and humanities and social sciences boasted five-star graduate satisfaction ratings, others fared a little worse. Engineering and technology and pharmacy graduates, for instance, rated their overall experience just one star.

See the Ratings section for details about your field of study and its prospects.

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