Uni degrees pay off in workforce for men more than women

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Wednesday, 6 May 2009

For immediate release 6 May 2009
Uni degrees pay off in workforce, for men more than women

Men are more likely than women to gain highly-paid, full-time work after completing university, according to a new study conducted by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER). The Graduate Pathways Survey, conducted by ACER for the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, canvassed more than 9,000 bachelor degree graduates five years into their careers.

The survey has found that men were more likely than women to be participating in the workforce after five years, with 84 per cent of males in full-time work compared with 69 per cent of females. Graduates earn significantly more on average than workers without formal qualifications. The median graduate salary five years after graduation is $60,000, comparing favourably with the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimate of average earnings of $46,332 for all workers in Australia.

Males earn around $7,800 more per year than females in the fifth year after graduation, according to the survey report.

The survey also shows that graduates from disadvantaged backgrounds have similar employment outcomes as the general university population.

While existing research has shown that students from disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to participate in higher education, the Graduate Pathways Survey shows that Indigenous graduates, graduates from regional and remote areas, graduates from families whose parents had worked in ‘non-professional’ occupations, and graduates who were the first in the family to attend university all had comparable employment levels as other graduates.

Overall, the survey concludes that bachelor graduates from Australian universities have sound employment participation rates, low unemployment, high work satisfaction, and salaries that increase substantially and are much higher than the national average.

“The Graduate Pathways Survey provides major new insights into bachelor degree study in Australia. We’ve learned more about the factors that enable students to engage and succeed, and about what graduates achieve in the years after university completion,” says Dr Hamish Coates, ACER Principal Research Fellow and lead author of the survey report.

“These results advance our understanding about the skills graduates develop and how these convert into professional practice, as well as what makes for high-quality university education,” he says. The full report, 2008 Graduate Pathways Survey: Graduates’ education and employment outcomes five years after completion of a bachelor degree at an Australian university, is available from DEEWR website For more about the Graduate Pathways Survey, visit GPS website