Australians are more educated than ever before and continue to enjoy strong employment outcomes following graduation, new global figures on tertiary education confirm.
The OECD Education at a Glance Report 2019 finds just over half of Australians aged 25–34 years old now hold a tertiary qualification, a jump of nine percent between 2008 and 2018.
It also reports that 59 per cent of young women have a post-school qualification, outstripping the OECD average of 51 per cent.
The report finds almost nine in ten working age Australians with a Bachelor’s degree (85 per cent) are employed. While 86 per cent of those with a Master’s and 89 per cent with a Doctorate are in work.
In 2017, graduates with a Bachelor’s degree earned 35 per cent more than those with a Year 12 qualification, while Master’s and Doctorate graduates earned 52 per cent more.
Universities Australia’s Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said the report confirmed that growing Australia’s bank of knowledge workers had benefits for graduates and the national economy.
“More Australians than ever before have reaped the rewards of a university education,” Ms Jackson said.
“We know Australia needs an increasing number of graduates with professional, technical, communication and critical thinking skills.”
Ms Jackson noted the quality of Australia’s higher education also continues to attract international students.
“Australia now takes in 10 per cent of all international tertiary students across the advanced economies of the world. That’s a real achievement.”
“It’s the result of more than six decades of dedicated work by universities and governments to build the $37 billion international education sector into Australia’s third largest export industry.”
However, Australia’s public investment in tertiary institution as a share of our national economy was amongst the lowest in advanced economies—ranked 23 out of 36 countries.
“Australia continues to rank near the bottom of the ladder for public investment in tertiary education — we won’t be able to compete with other advanced economies if this doesn’t improve.”
“The challenge for universities and Government is to keep the good results coming. To do that policy settings need to change, especially as we face a steep increase in the number of school leavers.”
“By the end of the next decade, there will be 55,000 more 18-year-olds than there are today.”