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Australia: Struggle street universities outshine city cousins

The Queensland universities with the highest number of students from low socio-economic backgrounds also had the highest rates of full time employment for their graduates.

The federal government-funded MyUniversity.gov.au launched and showed the University of Southern Queensland and James Cook University had the most students going in to full time work, beating out prominent institutions such as University of Queensland and Queensland University of Technology.

The regional universities still rated well when the amount of students going on to full-time study were factored in to the numbers. JCU had 94.5 per cent of their graduates go in to work or further study, USQ had 91.3 per cent. QUT had 91 per cent and UQ scored the highest in the combined score at 102.3 per cent – a figure that included students both studying and working full-time.

THe Vice-Chancellor of QUT is overseas and unavailable for comment on the numbers, while UQ has not responded to media requests for an interview. USQ had 81.4 per cent  of its graduates in full-time work, while 33 per cent of its students come from a lower socio-economic background.

The only university to beat its graduate employment numbers was JCU in Townsville, which had 82.4 per cent of its graduates working full time while 20 per cent of the students come from a low socio-economic background. This compares to the UQ, which has a working graduate rate of 80.8 per cent, and QUT, which is at 78.7 per cent. Each university has 14 per cent of its students from a low socio-economic background.

Southern Cross University and the University of the Sunshine Coast had the lowest conversion of graduates in to full-time work, with 66.7 per cent and 65.4 per cent of students finding full time work respectively. The other major Brisbane university, Griffith University, had 71.2 per cent of its graduates go on to full-time work but 21.1 per cent went on to full-time study.

University of Southern Queensland vice chancellor Jan Thomas put the success of the university down to being student oriented, but said people needed to remember the site was just showing numbers. “We don’t often compare ourselves to other universities, you have to be mindful it (the MyUniversity site) is a single lens way of looking at the universities,” she said.

“Each university in Queensland has a richness not necessarily reflected in the stats. “The stats are a good starting point but underpinning them are rich and more complex stories.”

Ms Thomas said the biggest challenge facing the university was making students in remote areas fell like they were part of the university experience. “For a long time USQ has focused on students,” she said. “That may sound obvious but it hasn’t been the case for some universities.

“We are very keen to ensure education is provided to people who may not otherwise have access to it. “We are constantly developing structures that assist students that comes from backgrounds that are necessarily education advantaged.”

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