Best NSW universities for students to get a job
Exclusive: Students at regional universities are more likely to land a job than graduates from prestigious "sandstone'' institutions.
Only two big-city universities are among the top 10 for graduate employment this year, exclusive new data obtained by News Corp Australia reveals.
Among the top eight universities nationally, at least three quarters of last year's graduates found full-time work this year.
But in the worst-performing universities, more than half the graduates were still hunting for a full-time job, four months after finishing their degree.
Charles Sturt University, based in regional NSW, is the nation's best for job prospects, with 84.7 per cent of students finding full-time work within four months of graduating.
Student nurse Jess Lightfoot said she "fell in love with the campus'' at Port Macquarie.
"I felt that they really cared about each student - they reach out to see how we're doing,'' she said.
"I chose nursing because I knew I didn't want to work in an office and be stuck inside answering phones.
"I wanted to be working with people, helping them in their time of need, and making a real difference.''
Charles Sturt University's acting vice-chancellor, Professor John Germov, said the uni produced "employment-ready graduates''.
"The courses and staff have connections to industry-leading practitioners and a focus on practical placements and learning which ensure our graduates are sought-after,'' he said.
Charles Sturt University has campuses in Albury-Wodonga, Bathurst, Dubbo, Orange, Port Macquarie and Wagga Wagga.
At a rival NSW regional university, eight out of 10 graduates from the University of New England found a full-time job within four months, making it the second-best performer nationally.
The Armidale-based university was one of only three across Australia which could boast of a higher employment rate this year, rising from 78.2 per cent in 2019 to 80.6 per cent in 2020.
The University of NSW, with a 76.2 per cent employment rate for graduates, and the University of Sydney, with 75.1 per cent, were the only "sandstone universities'' in the top 10.
Southern Cross University, based in Lismore, has a 75.1 per cent employment rate., while the University of Newcastle had 74.4 per cent of graduates finding a full-time job straight from uni.
Among University of Technology Sydney graduates, 70.8 per cent found full-time work.
The University of Wollongong and Macquarie University had average employment rates, just under 69 per cent.
But at Western Sydney University, only 58.8 per cent of graduates found a job within four months of finishing a bachelor's degree.
The nation's worst-performing universities for job outcomes are in Victoria and Western Australia.
Barely 54 per cent of students at the University of Western Australia and Murdoch University were in full-time work four months after graduation.
Just 57 per cent of students at the University of Melbourne, Edith Cowan University and Victoria University had found full-time work, along with 59 per cent of graduates from the University of the Sunshine Coast and Torrens University.
In the ACT, the University of Canberra (71.5 per cent) was slightly ahead of the Australian National University (69.2 per cent).
Across Australia, 68.7 per cent of university graduates found full-time work this year, within four months of graduating - down from 72.2 per cent in 2019.
Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan said nine out of 10 Australian university graduates find full-time work within three years of graduation.
He said the COVID-19 pandemic had a "major impact'' on graduate employment rates this year.
He said the federal government would spend $550 million for up to 30,000 extra university places next year, as well as short courses for Australians to upskill during the COVID-19 recession.
The survey, commissioned by the federal Department of Education, does not reveal whether graduates found work in the same field they studied at university.
It says graduates from regional universities are more likely to be older, and to study online and part-time.
"(They) are more likely to have completed vocational degrees and … have also fared better in the current downturn,'' it says.
The Education Department said the COVID-19 recession had cut full-time employment rates among most university graduates this year.
"Graduates from regional universities are more likely to be older, studying externally and part-time, and maintain a continuing connection with the labour market,'' its survey says.
"(This) explains, in part, why graduates from these universities may have fared better in the current downturn.''
The employment rates are based on graduates looking for full-time work, four months after finishing an undergraduate degree.
Originally published as Best NSW universities for students to get a job