“A strong result despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic” – that’s the take home message from Flinders University’s Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Clare Pollock upon the release of the 2020 Graduate Outcomes Survey report.
The starting salary for Flinders undergraduates bucked the trend in South Australia and continued to rise to a 2020 median of $64,500, the strongest in the state and up $1,900 on the previous year.
The report attributes a combination of general labour market conditions plus the impact of the pandemic to a national decline in full-time employment rate of 3.5%. However the result for Flinders undergraduates is a softening at just 2.2% despite the uncertainty and disruption of COVID-19, again the best result in SA, and an overall employment rate (which includes part-time work) of 84.7%.
Flinders University also retained its position as producing the best employment outcomes for its postgraduates in SA, with a full-time employment rate of 84.2%, and overall employment rate of 94.1%. Starting salaries were also very strong at $89,200.
“This is an incredibly pleasing result, especially under the circumstances, and reflects our high quality teaching and commitment to the student experience.
“Noting the majority of our graduates were surveyed in May, at the height of the COVID-19 disruption, the overall level of employment reflects the value of a Flinders degree in securing work and embarking on a career,” Professor Pollock says.
“Flinders University has been working hard to ensure its graduates are equipped with the skills needed for success, wherever their path may lead– and this is even more evident against the backdrop of the pandemic.
“For example we have led the way in making innovation and enterprise topics available to every student in every course, to give them an edge in the increasingly competitive and disruptive jobs market,” she says.
“The positive experience of our graduates is reflected in how important they regard their qualification and their preparedness for full-time work – 73.5% indicated their qualification was important to their employment and 78.7% said they their studies meant they well or very well prepared for their current full time employment.
“The quality of the Flinders degree is likewise reflected in the median starting salary – our Flinders graduates are exceptional and sought after.”
Analysis by Professor John Spoehr, of Flinders University’s Australian Industrial Transformation Institute, indicates university graduates are going into occupations that are less impacted by COVID-19.
Their part-time and casual jobs whilst studying have been severely impacted, however, SA came out of the crisis earlier mid-year, which reflects in the sharp decline in the unemployment rate last month.
Professor Pollock says Flinders put its COVID-19 action plans into place very quickly in support of the SA strategy to contain the virus. Flinders has invested substantially in minimising the impact of disruption on students and supported those sectors of our society which depend on our students and graduates for their continued operations.
“And although we could not have possibly forecast the emergence of the pandemic two years ago, we believe our resilience as an institution has been fortified by our five year investment of an additional $100m in education and $100m in research to further strengthen student opportunities.
“Meanwhile we are continuing to progress our major campus expansion – Flinders Village – to enhance our education and research facilities, student accommodation and community amenities.”
Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson adds the survey confirms that university education remains an important insurance during economic downturns.
“There is no doubt the labour market is a challenge following a pandemic – especially for young people – but the data continues to show it’s better to have a university qualification than not,” Ms Jackson says.
“The four-month job outlook does shift quickly with 90 per cent of graduates in full-time employment three years from finishing their studies. Employment rates in the short-term also differ by field of study, but after three years, graduates with generalist degrees have largely closed the gap.”
The Graduate Outcomes Survey result is reinforced by Flinders’ excellent performance in the The Good Universities Guide 2021, in which Flinders University was a state leader in both graduate outcomes and educational experience, achieved stars in 39 metrics across educational experience and graduate outcomes, and was rated best-in-state no less than 68 times.
The Quality Indicators in Learning and Teaching (QILT) Graduate Outcome Survey program is funded by the federal Department of Education and Training, and implemented in its current form in 2016. It examines Labour Market Outcomes, Further Study Outcomes and Graduate Satisfaction.