The Education and Training Minister has called on universities to keep a “laser focus” on the outcomes of the students they enrol following the release of new data on graduate completions and job outcomes.

Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said the new reports showed six-year completion rates for university students had dropped to their lowest levels ever recorded at 66 per cent and that short and medium-term employment were still below the highs seen in the last decade.

“Our universities need to keep a laser focus on student outcomes,” Minister Birmingham said.

“With more and more students engaging in higher education, our universities and institutions need to take responsibility for the students they choose to enrol and ensure they have the capabilities and support to succeed.

“Australia has some of the best higher education institutions in the world and they are rightly the destination of choice for many school-leavers and international students.

“These reports however highlight that policymakers and our university leaders cannot be complacent.

“While the results show most institutions are supporting the vast majority of their students through to completing their courses, some with already below-average results have seen further declines.

“It’s clear some of our universities need to take a close look at their efforts and do more to support the students they enrol with significant taxpayer subsidies.

“These reports will help students make informed choices about where they study and what courses they do.”

Minister Birmingham said some of the most concerning results highlighted that more than one in four graduates (28.6 per cent) reported their skills and education weren’t being fully utilised and that had risen from 28.1 per cent last year.

“Most students do further study to improve their prospects of getting a job but these numbers plainly show a disconnect between some of the courses universities are offering and the employment market,” Minister Birmingham said.

“With short-term employment outcomes at 70.9 per cent compared to previous highs of 83.6 per cent, and medium-term outcomes at 89.3 per cent compared to previous highs of 92.8 per cent, our universities should be carefully considering whether their courses are setting students up with the right skills and our students should be trying to find courses that match their passions and offer pathways to fulfilling careers.

“It’s results like these that are behind the Turnbull Government’s performance funding policy that would put student outcomes at the centre of learning.

“By making universities account for their performance and take steps to boost student retention, completion, satisfaction and job outcomes, taxpayers will be able to have confidence that the record funding they’re delivering is being used effectively.

“Our universities shouldn’t be afraid of that scrutiny.

“I urge students to visit to ensure they’re armed with the facts about their higher education options.”

The report on Completion rates of higher education students – Cohort analysis 2005 to 2015 is available at

The 2017 Graduate Outcomes Survey – Longitudinal is available at