Continued growth for domestic enrolment in Australian universities

Australian universities are seeing an uptick in domestic postgraduate student enrolment amid the pandemic.

By U2B Staff 

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International student enrolment may be flatlining at Australian universities amid the pandemic, but according to reports, Australian universities are seeing an uptick in domestic postgraduate student enrolment amid the pandemic, especially in health-related courses. 

Demand for postgraduate courses are bolstered by several factors including a combination of more year 12 school leavers, fewer students on gap years, and people returning to study because of the recession, said the Guardian.

University of Melbourne Professor Emeritus Frank Larkins also said in a paper that there is expected growth in domestic demand for 2021-22 at all levels.

The spike in demand from domestic students for university courses has meant some Australian universities have had to increase the enrolment numbers for some courses and to turn applicants away, reported The Sydney Morning Herald.

A University of Sydney spokeswoman was quoted saying that demand this year for places from local students had been “higher than ever”, including a jump in applications from students who will be the first in their family to go to university.

The university’s online study programmes had likely contributed to increased demand from local students.

“However it’s still early days, and we won’t be able to confirm our Semester 1 enrolments until after [the] census on 31 March,” the spokeswoman said.

A Charles Darwin University (CDU) spokesman said applications for postgraduate courses had spiked by almost 60%, and health-related degrees had “more than doubled as healthcare professionals seek to upskill in niche areas”.

Courses in social work, nursing, midwifery, and research are popular postgraduate teaching degrees.

Unemployment drives demand for further study

University of NSW deputy vice-chancellor Merlin Crossley was quoted saying in the report that domestic student enrolments were “up on last year”, likely because of pressures on youth employment. Places, however, were limited by the federal government funding cap on enrolment numbers and would not make up for a drop in international student numbers.

“We provided as many opportunities [for domestic students] as we could up to the government’s funding and even a bit beyond if necessary because we have room in our classrooms,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Victoria University said: “Employment trends are creating demand for VU’s health and education courses, which are particularly strong.

“VU’s new Bachelor/Masters combination courses leading to professional practice in physiotherapy, speech and language therapy, and dietetics are also attracting significant interest.”

Swinburne University in Melbourne has also reported an increase in applications from domestic students in various fields, with some of the most popular courses including their Master of Architecture and Master of Psychology (Clinical Psychology) programmes. 

It was previously reported that Australia’s federal government has been urged to increase university funding for domestic students to help buffer revenue lost from the drop in international enrolments amid the pandemic.

Students concerned about how they will fund their studies should note that the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP), is available to students in Commonwealth Supported Places (CSPs).

Students using a HELP loan are only required to make contributions once they are in the workforce and earning an income.

There is a repayment threshold, which means the loan doesn’t have to be repaid until the borrower is earning more than a specified amount. 

Payments are a percentage of borrowers’ annual earnings and this repayment rate rises as the borrower’s income increases.