WE DON’T NEED NO EDUCATIONMany are called, fewer are chosen:

Students are packing in their degrees at the highest levels in a decade, according to gloomy new Federal Government figures.

It shows two-thirds of students are completing their degrees within six years, the lowest levels ever recorded, and 30 per cent are failing to gain work within four months of graduating.

And, the number of students finishing their course within four years also dropped to record lows to prolong a decade-long decline.

The number of students gaining employment in the short and medium-term after graduation has also dropped.

Only 71 per cent of graduates secure a job straight out of university and 15 per cent are still unemployed four years after graduating.

Why? Because of a bi-partisan decision almost ten years ago to massively expand the tertiary education in Australia in a half-reform that freed up theĀ  supply of places but kept the price of a degree still largely regulated. At the same time, students can defer most of the costs of their degree via an interest-free government loan. This gives everyone an incentive to go to university without addressing the concern whether everyone should.

It’s good to have an educated population, but it’s also good to have a skilled population. We’re approaching the situation where nearly half of our young people go into higher education. Cast your mind back to when you were in grade 12 – was half of your class intellectually and otherwise ready for university, and would they have really benefited from it? The problem is not that everyone is now doing the proverbial women’s studies, but that we’re overproducing graduates in most fields, except in those where the Australian economy actually needs more qualified people, like IT and engineering. Never mind that the economy also needs qualified tradespeople of all sorts, who require a technical qualification rather than a degree in marketing or psychology.

The number of dropouts and unemployed or underemployed graduates shows that the policy of higher education for all is not working as originally hoped. We’re doing a big disservice to great many young people by overvaluing tertiary at the expense of technical education, and encouraging them down a garden path to waste their time (and get into debt) to commence and often not finish courses that will neither benefit them nor the economy.