Postgraduate Degrees Like An MBA Are Becoming The New Norm

The number of people with postgraduate degrees has increased 123 per cent since 2006.

An increasingly competitive job market is driving more and more Australians to pursue a second degree, particularly 25 to 34-year-olds, with 7% of people now holding a postgraduate qualification.

Data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics as part of the 2016 Census found that Australians are upskilling like never before, with 56 per cent of Australians aged 15 years and over – 9.6 million people – now holding a post-school qualification.

The census also found a 46 per cent jump in the number of people with postgraduate degrees over the past five years and a 123 per cent increase since 2006. Nearly 1 million Australians now hold postgraduate academic qualifications.

Number of Australians with non-school qualifications – by Level of Education

2016
2011
Growth (%)
Postgraduate Degree Level
921,029
631,121
45.9%
Graduate Diploma and Graduate Certificate Level
377,539
297,280
27.0%
Bachelor Degree Level
2,882,838
2,340,509
23.2%
Advanced Diploma and Diploma Level
1,687,893
1,393,046
21.2%
Certificate III & IV Level
2,995,150
2,653,127
12.9%
Certificate I & II Level
215,505
211,972
1.7%

 

Census Program Manager, Bindi Kindermann said attaining a university qualification remained an achievement Australians strive for, with close to one quarter (24 per cent) of youths and adults in the 2016 Census having completed a Bachelor Degree or above, up from 18 per cent a decade ago.

“The Census has also revealed that those who go on to study at university aren’t necessarily stopping with just a Bachelor Degree, with more people than ever achieving Postgraduate qualifications,” Ms Kindermann said.

“The number of people with Postgraduate Degree qualifications increased from 631,000 in 2011 to 921,000 in 2016, a jump of 46 per cent. The past five years have also seen significant increases in the number of people with Graduate Diplomas or Graduate Certificates as their highest level of qualification (27 per cent).

Residents of Australia’s capital cities (30 per cent) were almost twice as likely as residents in regional areas (16 per cent) to hold a Bachelor Degree or higher qualification, while people in capital cities were also more than 2.5 times as likely to hold a Postgraduate Degree level qualification (7.0 per cent in capital cities vs 2.7 per cent outside). However, 23 per cent of people in regional areas hold a Certificate III & IV level qualification, compared to just 16 per cent of people in capital cities.

Management and Commerce remained the most popular field of study across Australia (2.1 million people, an increase of 23 per cent since 2011) ahead of Engineering and Related Technologies (1.7 million people, an increase of 11 per cent).

Total persons with qualifications – by Field of Study

2016
2011
Growth (%)

Management and Commerce
2,149,808
1,744,947
23.2%
Engineering and Related Technologies
1,675,632
1,509,939
11.0%
Society and Culture
1,290,481
999,396
29.1%
Health
1,076,430
873,497
23.2%
Education
845,774
714,086
18.4%
Architecture and Building
634,774
546,495
16.2%
Food, Hospitality and Personal Services
556,774
486,133
14.5%
Creative Arts
402,354
324,951
23.8%
Information Technology
345,724
277,924
24.4%
Natural and Physical Sciences
331,522
272,963
21.5%
Agriculture, Environmental and Related Studies
222,831
196,246
13.5%

Highest growth sub-categories (6 digit level)

2016
2011
Growth

Accounting
408,572
344,383
64,189
General Nursing
453,279
389,257
64,022
Business Management
227,628
166,166
61,462
Care for the Aged
97,024
60,702
36,322
Children’s Services
153,891
121,016
32,875

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Ben Ready founded MBA News in 2014 and is the Managing Editor. He is a former business and finance journalist with Australian Associated Press (AAP) and Dow Jones Newswires in London. Ben completed his MBA in 2012 and was awarded the QUT GMAA Entrepreneurship Prize. He is also the founder and Managing Director of RGC Media & Mktng (rgcmm.com.au).

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