UNIVERSITY students studying for an extra two years to receive ”double degrees” are only marginally improving their job prospects, new research has revealed.
The disturbing results for double-degree graduates comes at a tough time for job-seeking graduates, with low demand for their skills amid burgeoning levels of HELP (Higher Education Loan Program) student debt.
The research, by Graduate Careers Australia, shows those completing double degrees, such as arts and law, are only 4.4 per cent more likely to land a job than their single-degree counterparts.
Graduate Careers Australia blames the scant reward for double-degree students, who generally must meet higher entrance requirements for demanding subject loads, on flat demand for graduates generally.
”The employment market for new graduates is historically low,” said Bruce Guthrie, Graduate Careers Australia research manager.
A report released last week by the Grattan Institute shows HELP scheme debt is at a record high, with $26.3 billion in outstanding loans from the Australian government to students.
Andrew Norton, the Grattan Institute’s higher education program director, said the increase was partly due to the large growth in the number of students in recent years. He also said that loans were remaining unpaid for longer as students won’t be paying off their debt for several years.
Repayments of HELP loans only kick in after graduates start earning more than $49,095 a year.
Mat Fitzgerald studied for 10 years because ”I assumed it was the only way to get a job”, he said. But four tertiary qualifications later, Mr Fitzgerald has started his own business to get the career he originally aspired to have.
”I always thought that more study meant more qualifications and that equalled more opportunity. However, I was wrong,” Mr Fitzgerald said.
”I was looking for a career change, and I was hitting brick walls because I didn’t have enough industry experience. I was qualified to the highest level in a tertiary environment but not in a practical one.”
Having now started his own marketing business he feels he can finally use all of his skills that he gained from tertiary education.
Despite the recent statistics tertiary education institutions are saying that enrolments for double degrees are as strong as ever. University of New South Wales pro vice-chancellor (students) Professor Wai Fong Chua, says students enjoy the flexibility of double degrees, and they don’t begrudge the extra time studying.
”At one level it lengthens the program but if you are training for a lifetime, so to speak, an additional year, or two, students don’t begrudge that.
”It does open up more options for the student. At 18 it’s really hard to say I definitely want to be in banking or I really want to be a doctor … it expands the students horizons and their employment options, they still could end up just being an engineer or they could end up working as an accountant,” Professor Chau said
One student about to embark on a double degree at UNSW is Ryland Joyce. He will undertake a bachelor of commerce/bachelor media (PR and advertising).
”The commerce subjects didn’t cover all the things that I wanted to learn about and a dual degree seemed to do that,” Mr Joyce said.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.