Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education

Mapping Australian Higher Education

What follows is a snapshot of the report from Andrew Norton, October 2014, Mapping Australian Higher Education, available on the Grattan website.

  • Domestic higher education enrollments are growing strongly and in 2014 are likely to exceed a million for the first time. International enrollments are recovering from a downturn and numbered nearly 330,000 in 2013, with China the single largest source of students. In 2013, total domestic and international student enrollments exceeded 1.3 million. In the past 30 years postgraduate coursework has doubled its share of total student enrollments from 11 to 22 per cent.
  • The higher education workforce is increasing; Australia’s universities employed just under 116,000 people on a permanent or fixed-term contract basis in 2013. Of these, 51,400 had academic job classifications and 64,400 non-academic job classifications. These statistics do not include casually employed staff. In 2010 an estimated 67,000 people were employed as casual academics.
  • In 2012 the revenues of Australia’s 40 full universities, and about 130 other higher education providers exceeded $26 billion. Student debt is also growing: in mid-2013 HELP debtors owed the Commonwealth $30 billion, with $7 billion of that figure likely to be written off as bad debt. It will cost taxpayers $6.4 billion in 2014.
  • Since 2000, the number of researchers has grown every year, but with stronger growth among research-only academic staff compared to those with teaching and research responsibilities. Research-only staff made up 21 per cent of the academic workforce in 1992, increasing to 34 per cent by 2013.
  • Over the decade to 2013, 30 occupations, mostly in the health professions or linked to the mining industry, have experienced shortages for 5 years or more. (An occupation is deemed to be in skills shortages if employers cannot fill vacancies, or have considerable difficulty filling vacancies, at current pay and condition levels, in reasonably accessible locations).  These shortages are now easing. Only six occupations reported shortages in 2013 (i.e. Optometrist, Physiotherapist, Sonographer, Geologist, Mining Engineer, Mining Production Manager).
  • A 2010 survey found that more than half of mid- to late-career academics do not believe their overall workload is manageable. Australian academics reported among the highest number of hours worked in universities around the world. Across teaching, research, service and administration, junior academics reported working 43.8 hours and senior academics 50.4 hours a week in 2007. These hours are high compared to other sectors in Australia, where full-time employees worked an average 39.4 hours a week in 2007. (Ref: Andrew Norton, July 2013, Taking University Teaching Seriously, Grattan Institute, available on the Grattan website).
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