Culture

Turns Out One In Three Australian University Students Never Finish Their Degree

Uni offers come out today and the government is urging students to research their options carefully.

Today thousands of anxious Year 12 grads will find out if they’ve received a university offer, but the federal government is warning them to carefully research their options before deciding what and where to study.

New data shows that only two-thirds of university students are finishing their degrees after studying for six years. One in three students who enrolled in 2009 had dropped out by 2014, according to numbers released by the federal government today.

Smaller and regional universities had much lower completion rates than those in capital cities. For example, 88 percent of students at the University of Melbourne completed their degree compared to just 49 percent at the University of New England in Armidale.

The data also shows that Indigenous students are more than twice as likely to drop out in their first year compared to non-Indigenous students. Twenty percent of Indigenous students never return to university after their first year, while only 8.5 percent of non-Indigenous students drop out. Students from low-socioeconomic status backgrounds were also twice as likely to drop out compared to those from high-socioeconomic backgrounds.

Deciding whether or not to go to university, which university to go to and what to study can be a pretty tough process. The federal education minister, Simon Birmingham, is pointing to the latest numbers to urge students to consider their options carefully before making a final decision.

“We’ve heard too many stories about students who have changed courses, dropped out because they made the wrong choices about what to study, students who didn’t realise there were other entry pathways or who started a course with next to no idea of what they were signing themselves up for,” he said.

“To the thousands of students anxiously checking emails, text messages, newspapers and mail boxes this week to learn what your future study options might be, I urge you to take your time to understand those options.”

The government is encouraging students to check out its Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching website (it really needs a catchier name) which provides information on student experiences, outcomes and employment prospects for all Australian universities.

Even though main round offers are being released today, Birmingham wants to remind students that “It’s not too late to change their mind, should they wish to do so after appropriate research and consideration.”