Gratified graduates allow minister tojustify fee rise

January 12, 2001

Australian graduates are better paid, happier with their courses and are finding it easier to get jobs than at any time in the past ten years, according to a survey.

Almost 84 per cent of students who graduated last year were working full time within four months of finishing their courses, the survey by the Graduate Careers Council of Australia found. This was an increase of 3 per cent on the previous year.

Graduates in medicine, pharmacy, surveying, dentistry and nursing had the highest rates of employment. Psychologists, social scientists, visual and performing artists and graduates in languages had the lowest.

Dentistry graduates were earning the highest starting salaries of A$50,000 (£19,000) a year, up by A$7,000 on the previous survey. The median starting salary was A$33,000.

The traditional gap between the sexes in initial earnings continues, with male graduates earning on average A$34,000 a year and females A$32,000. This was largely because women tend to be concentrated in courses such as nursing, which lead to jobs with relatively low starting salaries.

Men and women entering the same fields mostly earned the same but new female graduates did earn more than men in several fields, including engineering and dentistry. Some 89 per cent of graduates said they were "broadly satisfied" with their courses.

Federal education minister David Kemp said the findings justified the government's decision three years ago to increase tuition fees and decrease the income threshold at which students begin repaying their loans.

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