The economics of graduate-entry courses

Last week the SMH reported that the University of Sydney was abolishing its undergraduate radiation therapy course in favour of a graduate course. The University’s explanation is that ‘the change was in line with a move towards graduate entry for many of its professional degrees.’

Since graduate-entry but initial professional entry degrees are relatively new in Australia we don’t have any strong evidence on their human capital economics. From a theoretical perspective, however, I would have thought there could be potential human capital benefits for occupations likely to benefit from study in more than one field (eg managers, public servants and other policymakers, lawyers, teachers, academics), and possible financial reward for having broader knowledge and skills. In any case, at least at the upper levels of most of those occupations have high earnings, and so additional degrees for general interest and enjoyment are affordable.

However financial rewards from added degrees are less likely for occupations which require highly-specialised technical knowledge but little else in the way of university-level education. All the health professions except perhaps those related to mental health would seem to fit into this category. And except for medical practitioners and dentists, the health professions generally pay salaries that could easily represent low rates of returns on investment if initial education cost significantly more.
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