The most popular and least popular Australian bachelor degrees

Health degrees are more than twice as popular as they were in 2001, in a sign Australian students are paying attention to employment trends.

Enrolments in health-related bachelor degrees grew from 20,130 in 2001 to 52,134 in 2016, according to Good Education Media, which released its latest The Good Careers Guide today.

Health jumped from being the third most popular area of study to second place nationally.

It was behind only society and culture, which included arts and humanities courses.

Good Education Media head of data and analytics, Ross White, said the figures showed students were picking up on demand trends.

“There is an ageing population driving demand,” he said.

“There are population booms in some states as well and this is driving employment in certain industries, including health and education.”

Most health graduates were employed soon after completing their degree.

Graduate Careers Australia’s 2016-17 Graduate Outcomes Survey revealed 91.7 per cent of nursing graduates who wanted work found it within four months.

This was also the case for 95.8 per cent of pharmacy graduates, 95.9 per cent of medicine graduates and 89.9 per cent of health services and support graduates.

Many Aussies see the value in a health degree and are signing up to health degrees in droves

Social analyst David Chalke said demand for nursing was likely to continue well into the future.

“We aren’t going to get mass emigration from Australia so the people here are going to continue to get sick and old so will need nursing,” he said.

“The Millennials, under-35s, now outnumber the Baby Boomers three to two so for every two Baby Boomers who are sick now, there are going to be three Millennials sick in 40 years’ time.

“That’s great news for nurses and the pharmaceutical companies and so on.”

Deloitte report The future of work: Occupational and education trends in nursing in Australia forecasted the nursing profession would grow at double the rate of the general workforce.

It predicted 2.8 per cent annual growth between 2016-17 and 2021-22 for nursing professionals, compared to 1.5 per cent over all.

Mr Chalke, principal of The Strategy Planning Group, said as well as the ageing population, increasing life expectancy and improving the healthcare system, the nursing profession would also benefit from its inability to be fully automated.

“You have the need for human contact between the patient and person looking after them,” he said.

“Nursing is going to become more dependent on the human factors – care, touch, intuition – rather than on the mechanical functions.”

While health courses attracted increasing enrolments between 2001 and 2016, the Good Education Media data found information technology (IT) experienced the opposite trend.

Nationally, enrolments decreased from 12,357 to 9019.

Mr White said the “genuine drop in numbers” was “odd”.

“I’d speculate that a lot of IT skill sets are being disseminated into other fields of study. You might learn IT skills in society and culture or in health or in engineering, whereas previously they were specific (to IT courses).

“We will definitely continue to see health on the rise and education on the rise, but whether IT will continue down, that’s one to watch.”

Agriculture, environmental and related studies was the only other study area that experienced a national decrease in enrolments over the 15 year period, dropping from 3913 to 3485.

Australian bachelor degree enrolments: 2001 vs. 2016

Field of study 2001 2016 % change
Society and culture          47,160          66,884 41.8%
Health          20,130          52,134 159.0%
Management and commerce          35,022          44,019 25.7%
Natural and physical sciences          17,441          30,266 73.5%
Education          19,604          23,322 19.0%
Creative arts          13,568          19,922 46.8%
Engineering and related technologies          10,760          14,350 33.4%
Information technology          12,357            9,019 – 27.0%
Architecture and building            3,670            6,463 76.1%
Agriculture, environmental and related studies            3,913            3,485 – 10.9%

Source: The Good Careers Guide

The Good Careers Guide is one of the most popular career planning tools for students and is used in secondary schools throughout Australia. The Good Careers Guide 2018 is available for purchase via the Good Education Bookshop and selected newsagents. For more information visit


This article originally appeared in the Courier Mail – Australian bachelor degrees: the most and least popular

One Comment

  1. Charles Impey-Reply
    October 24, 2018 at 11:48 am

    I believe these figures on growth or decline in Australian Bachelor Degrees is largely driven by two key impacts. Growth is as a result of industry demand in conjunction with the uncapping (increased university places available) between 2001 and 2016.
    Those in decline is largely due to increases in industry efficiencies within agriculture and ICT sectors.

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