Long haul … Mat Fitzgerald studied at a tertiary level for 10 years.UNIVERSITY students studying for an extra two years to receive ”double degrees” are not being rewarded with a doubling of their job prospects, new research has found.
The disturbing results for double-degree graduates come at a difficult time in the jobs market for graduates generally, with low demand for their skills and burgeoning levels of Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) student loans.
Graduate Careers Australia research shows those completing double degrees, such as graduating with a degree in both arts and law, are only 4.4 per cent more likely to land a job than their single-degree counterparts.
The organisation that sells research about trends affecting graduates 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,” Bruce Guthrie, the research manager at Graduate Careers Australia, said.
Mat Fitzgerald has studied across three different faculties for a total of 10 years because he ”assumed it was the only way to get a job”.
But four tertiary qualifications later, Mr Fitzgerald, 30, has started his own business to get the career he originally wanted.
”I always thought that more study meant more qualifications and that equalled more opportunity. However, I was wrong,” he said.
Mr Fitzgerald began his studies with a bachelor of behavioural science at La Trobe University. He then found some work in a call centre and discovered a desire to diversify his skills further in the business and marketing field. He then went on to complete a graduate certificate in business management, a diploma of marketing and a masters of marketing.
When these qualifications were not getting him any further in a career at Seven Dimensions, a corporate training company where he worked as the marketing and business development manager, he decided to look elsewhere.
A report released last month by the Grattan Institute shows the HELP student loan scheme debt is at an all-time high, with $26.3 billion in outstanding loans from the government to students. This equates to an average of $15,200 worth of debt per student, according to the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education annual report.
The Grattan Institute’s higher education program director, Andrew Norton, said the loan increase was partly due to the large increase in the number of tertiary students in recent years.
But he also said the loans were remaining unpaid for longer. Repayments of HELP loans only kick in after graduates start earning an income above $49,095.
Despite the statistics, tertiary institutions report enrolments in double degrees are as strong as ever.
The University of NSW Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Students), Professor Wai Fong Chua, said students enjoyed the flexibility of double degrees and they did not mind the extra time spent 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.”
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.