Universities Australia Chief Executive Belinda Robinson said the latest figures showed enrolment growth was now in line with population growth, thereby easing financial pressure on the system.
“This is further evidence that the initial surge of ‘unmet demand’ for a university education has been steadily absorbed in the first few years of the shift to a demand-driven system,” she said.
In February 2016, offers were up 1.2 per cent, compared to the same time in 2015. This follows modest growth in offers in 2015 of around one per cent.
The latest ABS figures for population growth show that Australia’s population grew by 1.3 per cent over the 12 months to September 2015 (ABS, Australian Demographic Statistics, September 2015)
The demand-driven system continues to increase access to university for a more diverse cohort of Australians. This is important to ensure the future workforce needs of the economy can be met.
“It is estimated that 3.8 million more skilled graduates will be required by 2025 to meet future labour market needs,” Ms Robinson said.
The strongest growth in offers in 2016 was recorded among groups that have traditionally been under-represented at university. In particular, offers to Indigenous applicants were up 11 per cent – even higher than the strong growth in applications by Indigenous people (9.6 per cent).
Offers to economically and socially disadvantaged applicants grew 2.3 per cent (compared to a decline of 0.1 per cent for high SES applicants).
While offers to students with lower ATARs have increased, they continue to represent a very small proportion of the total.
“Since universities admit students on the basis of their potential to succeed, the ultimate measure of the appropriateness and effectiveness of admissions is student outcomes,” Ms Robinson said.
“The latest attrition rates published by the Department of Education and Training (15 per cent in 2013) are no different to the figures for 2005. This suggests that even as access to university has been opened to more educationally disadvantaged students than ever before, admissions processes continue to be able to identify students capable of attaining a degree.”