Do Australian applicants take note of skills shortages?

While international candidates are aware of specific skill shortages areas via DIAC and courses to suit outcomes, when will Australian students follow suit?

commenter Andrew Smith, 21 October

The answer to Andrew’s question is: already. Because we have university applications data by field of study we can track whether would-be students respond to labour market trends.

In looking at this issue, I classified courses as in-demand if they satisfied two conditions. First, they had to lead to occupations on the skills shortages list. Second, there had to be a tight graduate labour market, which I classified as 5% or less of recent graduates looking for work in the Graduate Destination Survey.

All the disciplines that satisfied these tests showed an increase in applications, while all other disciplines put together showed a decline:

(Dentistry left out because the increase was so large it upset the scale.)

News about job opportunities does seem to reach would-be students and affect their applications. It is one further reason to doubt that ‘managed markets’ would do better than ordinary markets in allocating student places.

5 thoughts on “Do Australian applicants take note of skills shortages?

  1. Just checking my understanding of the chart. Is it saying that enrollment in nursing courses has increased ~ 55% from 2001 to 2008?


  2. Andrew is it possible to easily check some of the niche areas?

    e.g. IT/Comp Sci/ etc.. around 1996-2004 during the tech boom and crash

    Or say geology/mining eng. with the current mining boom?

    I imagine the data only exists for courses, not specific streams within them.


  3. M – My NCVER paper discusses the IT issue at pp25-26. Unfortunately IT was not recorded separately prior to 2001, though as I note in the article there were no unusual movements in the broad science category in which it was previously included. So we can’t say for sure whether there was a reaction to the IT hysteria of the late 1990s (there could have been large movements between science disciplines). But we can clearly say that there was a response to the IT crash. There is no data down to the geology or engineering sub-disciplines level.


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