Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2019. Higher education and vocational education. Canberra: AIHW. Viewed 19 October 2019, https://pp.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-welfare/higher-education-and-vocational-education
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2019). Higher education and vocational education. Retrieved from https://pp.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-welfare/higher-education-and-vocational-education
Higher education and vocational education. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 11 September 2019, https://pp.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-welfare/higher-education-and-vocational-education
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Higher education and vocational education [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2019 [cited 2019 Oct. 19]. Available from: https://pp.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-welfare/higher-education-and-vocational-education
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2019, Higher education and vocational education, viewed 19 October 2019, https://pp.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-welfare/higher-education-and-vocational-education
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Higher levels of educational attainment tend to be associated with increased likelihood of being employed, being in good health, and reporting life satisfaction (OECD 2016b, 2018). Higher educational attainment is also associated with higher earnings, with tertiary educated adults earning 54% more than their secondary-educated peers (OECD 2018).
Non-school qualifications include Certificate I to Certificate IV, Diploma, Bachelor, Master and Doctoral level qualifications. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) considers non-school qualifications at a Certificate III level or above to be higher than a Year 12 level of education (ABS 2018).
In Australia, non-school education can be broken into two categories:
Vocational Education and Training (VET)
Number of providers
Number of students
Percentage of students who are female
Percentage who are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian students
Percentage who are full-time students
Percentage who are international students
(a) Number of higher education providers in 2016. Data for 2017 was not available at the time of writing.
(b) Includes Australian providers operating overseas (NCVER 2018).
(c) Includes students enrolled with Australian providers operating overseas (NCVER 2018).
(d) Students as a proportion of all higher education student enrolments in 2017 (DET 2018).
(e) Students as a proportion of all VET student enrolments in 2017 (NCVER 2018).
Sources: DET 2018; NCVER 2018; TEQSA 2018.
In May 2018, the proportion of people aged 15–64 enrolled in non-school qualifications was 14% (2.2 million) (ABS 2018), an increase from 12% (1.7 million) in 2008 (ABS 2008).
Figure 1 alternative text Figure 1 data table (120KB XLSX)
Non-school qualifications tend to be associated with improved employment status (SCRGSP 2019). In 2018, 63% of VET graduates who completed a qualification above Diploma level in 2017 had improved employment status, followed by those with a Certificate III (62%), Certificate IV (61%), Diploma (59%), Certificate I (49%) and Certificate II (42%).
In May 2018, of students aged 15–74:
In 2015, Australia ranked seventh out of 36 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries for the proportion of those aged 25–64 having a tertiary education (OECD 2016a).
The OECD defines tertiary education as having an International Standard Classification of Education of 5 or above (OECD 2016a). In Australia, this means tertiary education comprises qualifications at Diploma level or above (UNESCO 2019). According to the OECD, Australia (43%) ranked below Canada (55%), the United States (45%), and the United Kingdom (44%), but above the OECD average (36%) (Figure 2).
Figure 2 alternative text Figure 2 data table (120KB XLSX)
Participation in STEM fields
In 2018, of students aged 15–64 who were studying for a non-school qualification, 20% were studying in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields (down from 22% in 2008). A greater proportion of males (33%) were studying STEM than females (10%). Between 2008 and 2018, the proportion of males studying for a non-school STEM qualification decreased by 1.5 percentage points, while the proportion of females increased by half a percentage point.
Of those studying for a non-school qualification in a STEM field in 2018, 73% were male and 27% female. The proportion of males decreased by 2.3 percentage points between 2011 and 2018, while the proportion of females increased by 2.9 percentage points (ABS 2008, 2011, 2018).
For more information on non-school education, see:
ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2008. Education and work, Australia, May 2008. ABS cat. no. 6227.0. Canberra: ABS.
ABS 2011. Education and work, Australia, May 2011. ABS cat. no. 6227.0. Canberra: ABS.
ABS 2018. Education and work, Australia, May 2018. ABS cat. no. 6227.0. Canberra: ABS.
DET (Department of Education and Training) 2018. Higher education student enrolment summary statistics for the 2017 full year. Canberra: Department of Education and Training.
NCVER (National Centre for Vocational Education Research) 2018. Australia vocational education and training statistics: total VET students and courses 2017. Adelaide: NCVER.
OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) 2016a. Education at a Glance 2016: OECD Indicators. Paris: OECD Publishing.
OECD 2016b. How are health and life satisfaction related to education? Education Indicators in Focus, no. 47. Paris: OECD Publishing.
OECD 2018. Education at a Glance 2018: OECD Indicators. Paris: OECD Publishing.
SCRGSP (Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision) 2019. Report on Government Services 2019. Canberra: Productivity Commission.
TEQSA (Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency) 2018. Statistics report on TEQSA registered higher education providers—August 2018. Melbourne: TEQSA.
UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) 2019. ISCED Mappings, Australia, 2011. Paris: UNESCO. Viewed 8 March 2019.
The line graph shows the field of study chosen by students studying non-school qualifications, for each year over 10 years. The proportion of students studying agriculture, environmental and related studies ranged from 2.3% in 2008 to 1.5% in 2018; architecture and building from 6.0% to 5.5%; creative arts from 6.4% to 4.6%; education from 6.4% to 7.0%; engineering and related technologies from 12.2% to 9.3%; food, hospitality and personal services from 4.4% to 2.2%; health from 10.8% to 14.9%; information technology from 3.7% to 4.1%; management and commerce 25.2% to 20.5%; natural and physical sciences from 3.6% to 5.4%; and society and culture from 17.7% to 22.0%.
This horizontal bar chart shows the proportion of 25–64-year-olds with tertiary education across 36 OECD countries. In 2015, the proportions ranged from 16.3% in Mexico to 55.2% in Canada.
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