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    Architecture is Australia’s second most overrated degree

    Geraldine Chua

    A new study by McCrindle Research has found that after psychology, architecture is the second most overrated degree in Australia.

    Only 42 per cent of architecture students are available for full-time employment, with the majority of bacherlor-level graduates “not career-ready in that they require further study, qualifications, or registration prior to commencing full-time employment”.

    Of those in a full-time role, 72 per cent are working in the architecture industry, but earn just $32,500 – below the national average graduate starting salary.

    On the other hand, the most underrated degree is surveying. Nine out of ten surveying graduates are able to find full-time work in that field, at a median starting salary of $52,000. Urban/regional planning (81% in full-time employment), rehabilitation (89%), and electrical engineering (76%) are other degrees that have higher rates of graduate employment.

    Social researcher Mark McCrindle attributes this to socio-economic trends. With Australia’s population growth, there is a need for more homes and the redevelopment of many existing urban centres. This has created great opportunities for graduates in relevant fields, but not for the more popular, but ‘overrated’ degrees.

    According to the report, graduate earnings have hit an all-time low in real terms. Three decades ago, the average graduate’s starting salary was the same as average full-time weekly earnings. This means that the average bachelor-level Baby Boomer graduate started on a salary equivalent to the average full-time earner.

    However, graduate starting salaries have started to lose ground against average weekly earnings, and are now just over 77 per cent of this benchmark.

    At the same time, it seems that while there are more graduates, there is also less work available.

    For the ‘Builders’ generation (those aged in their late 60s), just one in 10 have a university degree. For Generation Ys (in their late 20s), one in three hold a tertiary qualification. Based on current trends for today’s school aged students, Generation Z, as many as one in two will likely end up with a university degree.

    Despite the rise in proportion of Australians with degrees, the number of bachelor degree graduates who are able to secure work within four months of graduating is significantly decreasing. Only 71 per cent of these graduates were able to secure full-time employment in 2013.

    McCrindle told The Australian that too many students were making important decisions about their future based on too little objective information.

    "We see 17 year olds having to make life decisions and they aren't aware of all the information," he says.

    "It's not just their blood, sweat and tears over three to four years; they also rack up large student debts. If they sign up for a course that doesn't get them anywhere without further study, they are being sold a promise that is not delivered on."

    The report utilised qualitative data sourced from a recent research conducted by McCrindle Research in December 2013, based on a nation-wide survey of 512 Australian respondents. This is in addition to sources: Graduate Careers Australia, ABS Measures of Australia's Progress, DEEWR Higher Education Reports, DIISRTE, and Open Universities Australia.

    To obtain more information about Australian Universities and other higher education providers, please visit

    For the full report, click HERE.

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