University is a means to an end, not an end in itself

Charles Sturt University has again topped the nation for boasting the highest percentage of graduates who find full-time work within four months of completing their studies.

The figures paint a picture of a tertiary institution that is proudly focused on preparing a job-ready workforce and are a credit to both the university and its students.

The figures also suggest a student body that is attending university as a means to an end, rather than as a stopgap while they plan the rest of their lives.

That conclusion is supported by another finding in Good Education Group’s Good Universities Guide analysis. Just 6.9 per cent of CSU graduates returned immediately to full-time study, well below the national average of 21.1 per cent.

It was the only measure where CSU ranked significantly below the national average, and it’s worth wondering why.

First, the particular pressures of studying at a regional university must play a part. Indeed, separate studies have found that CSU is vastly over-represented for the number of first-year students who drop out of their course.

And not enough is done to support those students because politicians who tend to have a sandstone university focus when it comes to the tertiary sector fail to grasp is just how difficult attending university can be for kids from the bush.

Most country kids who go to uni have to leave their home and their town to do so. They do not have the option of living at home while studying, or even making regular weekend trips home to reconnect with loved ones.

They must make that major step into adulthood at an earlier age than most kids raised in the major cities and they [and their parents] must take on additional financial burdens to make that happen.

Overall, the country kids must make decisions that shape the rest of their lives at an earlier age and they must be serious about the investment of time and money they put into tertiary study.

For many of these students, university is almost a necessary evil and the idea of continuing full-time study at the end of their undergraduate course simply does not enter the equation.

They want to get out and start the next stage of their life, the working stage.

They deserve credit just for getting that far – and the university that helps get them through deserves plenty of credit as well.


This article originally appeared in the Western Advocate – Our say | Uni is a means to an end, not an end in itself

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