THE Rocky Horror Show may be front of mind right now, but when young Australians ponder which university offer to accept next week, they'd do better to dust off mum and dad's Little Shop of Horrors album.
Specifically, the Dentist! song: "Your temperament's wrong for the priesthood, and teaching would suit you still less; Son, be a dentist, you'll be a success."
You certainly will. The Graduate Outcomes Survey National Report, released today, shows graduate dentists can expect to earn $94,600, compared with an average across all study areas of $60,000. Plus you've got an 87 per cent chance of a full-time job within a few months of graduating.
But if you're considering dentistry, bear in mind your uni years might not be the best of your life, as overall satisfaction with courses and student assessment of teaching quality sit below averages across all course areas, though not by much.
If you want to have a great time at uni, study rehabilitation, humanities and social sciences, or social work, where satisfaction ratings hit the mid-80s per cent range and teaching quality rates highly too. But beware that your choice now could ultimately lead to the unemployment line in a few years, especially if you end up with a creative arts degree on your resume.
The proportion of creative arts grads with full-time jobs four months after graduation is 53.2 per cent. It's also a low 59 per cent for science and maths graduates, and only marginally better for those with communications and psychology degrees. Compare 95.9 per cent for medicine and 95.2 per cent for pharmacy.
The big discrepancies in satisfaction, job and wage results come on top of recent stats showing uni attrition rates are up and employer dissatisfaction with graduates is growing. And the new report reveals fewer than 60 per cent felt that their qualification was important for their current job.
It has prompted the Federal Government - which has frozen funding for bachelor degrees at 2017 levels for two years and will make future rises conditional on student and graduate outcomes - to urge students to do their homework before signing up to a course.
EDUCATION Minister Simon Birmingham said it could be a "life-changing decision".
"That's why the Turnbull Government has ramped up its efforts to improve the transparency and availability of information available," he said, pointing to the Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching website (qilt.edu.au).
"By ensuring universities are more accountable and transparent about the job prospects of their graduates, we are helping students to make the right choice the first time around."
UniSA acting vice-chancellor Allan Evans said it was "really important" that prospective students picked courses and careers that suited their passions and personal attributes.
"I wouldn't get too bogged down in the statistics if you are passionate about an area," he said. Prof Evans said UniSA ensured strong employment outcomes through internship programs and matching student intakes to job availability, particularly in health areas.
UniSA also embedded "professional practice" courses in most degrees, offered advice on job interviews and resumes, and had industry advisory boards for every degree to ensure graduates were "well prepared" for the workplace.
Satisfaction not guaranteed-
SATISFACTION with teaching quality was stagnant at 63 per cent from 2016 to 2017.
ENGINEERING graduates' satisfaction with teaching was lowest at 47.6 per cent in the 2017 survey, followed by medicine at 50.6 per cent and law at 57.3 per cent.
OVERALL satisfaction with qualifications dipped slightly from 80.6 per cent to 79.4 per cent.
THE full-time employment rate of graduates, within four months of graduation, was 71.8 per cent in 2017, up from 70.9 per cent in 2016 and 68.1 per cent in 2014. However, it was far below the 85.2 per cent recorded in 2007.
MEDIAN salary of full-time employed graduates was $60,000 in 2017.
GRADUATES in more vocationally orientated fields, such as medicine (95.9 per cent), were more likely to gain full-time employment quickly than graduates with more generalist degrees such as humanities and social sciences (61.8 per cent), communications (60.7 per cent) and creative arts (55 per cent).
REGIONAL and remote graduates had better full-time employment outcomes at 75.5 per cent, compared with 70.6 per cent of those from the city.
OF GRADUATES who were employed full time, fewer than 60 per cent felt their qualification was either "very important" or "important" for their current employment.
ONLY three in four said their qualification prepared them for employment.
EMPLOYED graduates aged 30 or younger were substantially more likely than older graduates to report they were not fully using their skills or education in their current job.