The Australian Universities Where Graduates Earn The Biggest Salaries

The Australian Universities Where Graduates Earn The Biggest Salaries

Graduates from the prestigious Group of Eight and technology universities earn more than graduates from the lesser known and regional universities over their lifetime.

University picture from Shutterstock

A new analysis released by the Grattan Institute found that bachelor-degree graduates from Australia’s top universities earned about 6% more over a 40-year career than other graduates.

For graduates of degrees like science or commerce this equated to about $200,000 more over their career.

The data showed that bachelor degree graduates from top universities actually earned about 10% more over their lifetime, but this dropped four percentage points when social advantages were accounted for.

Go8 universities were more likely to enrol students with better previous school grades, students from private schools, and students with parents who had degrees and high profile jobs.

Therefore some of this difference could have been attributed to the fact that Go8 and technology universities enrol students who would have performed better anyway, rather than it being the effect of the university itself.

A much larger discrepancy was found in chosen course of study, with a law graduate earning $300,000 more than a science graduate over their career, and a science graduate earning up to $1 million more than a creative arts graduate.

“The report shows that when it comes to earnings, what you study matters more than where you study,” Grattan Institute researcher Andrew Norton said.

“Studying engineering at any university is likely to lead to a higher salary than studying arts at a sandstone university.”

Vice-Chancellor of Southern Cross University Peter Lee said he rejected any proposition that the quality of the education experience at a regional university was less than that a city university, leading to lower salary outcomes.

Professor Lee also said there were many other factors, such as gender balance and salary differences between cities and regions, that could have explained the difference.

For instance, Southern Cross University was made up of 73% female students, and females consistently earn less than males, even when allowing for career gaps for family raising.

Professor Lee also said there are large salary differences between the city and the regions, attributing for some of the difference.

“A lawyer in a big city law firm does earn more than a lawyer practising in a smaller firm in the regions,” he said.

Higher education analyst at the University of Melbourne Geoff Sharrock said the report’s most important finding was that a student’s field of study is far more important than the university itself where earnings are concerned.

“Some fields pay much better than others, regardless of which university conferred the degree.

“This suggests that students should choose their field of interest and ability first, and their institution second.

“In doing so, they may also factor in price differences and how much debt risk they are prepared to take on,” Dr Sharrock said.The ConversationThis article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.


  • Which universities are the “Group of Eight and technology universities”?

    EDIT: Skimmed the report and found that they are talking about:
    – University of Sydney
    – University of Melbourne
    – University of New South Wales
    – Monash University
    – University of Western Australia
    – University of Adelaide
    – University of Queensland
    – Australian National University

    As the ‘group of eight’, and the ‘technology universities’ are:
    – University of Technology, Sydney
    – Queensland University of Technology
    – Curtin University of Technology
    – RMIT University
    – University of South Australia
    – Swinburne University of Technology

    None of which is unexpected or anything, just nice to actually have the list. The idea that graduates from those universities might command a higher starting salary doesn’t seem that out of place once you look at the list, either, they’re generally the more prestigious universities and the piece of paper you get at the end consequently has more perceived value for employers.

    • University of WA
      Monash University
      Australia National University
      University of Adelaide
      University of Queensland
      University of Melbourne
      University of NSW
      University of Sydney

    • It’s worth bearing in mind that University rankings are largely assessed on perceived reputation, and research outcomes…
      So when you consider that only about 1 in 4 Australian Undergraduate (Bachelor) Degree holders actually go onto any form of postgraduate study – these rankings are largely irrelevant.
      Some regional institutions actually have far better graduate employment outcomes than some of their “sandstone” counterparts – if you’re a member of the 3 out of 4 students who are NOT looking at doing postgrad research – graduate employment outcomes are a much better indicator of where you should consider studying.

  • Australia has 3 types of universities.
    Go8 = Sandstone Universities (our own pretend ‘Ivy League’)
    Technology Universities, or SuperTAFEs (pretty much self-explanatory)
    Gumtree Universities (Murdoch, Latrobe, Griffith, etc)…where you go to get your Arts degree and qualify you to work in a supermarket/petrol station/McDonalds.

    • your generalization of gumtree units is off. they are units you go to when you can’t get into a better uni and use them as a stepping stone to another uni. you also forgot bond – a uni for the super rich who can’t get in anywhere else so need to pay upfront

      • It’s meant to be a wry observation, not a detailed report on university student outcomes. I’ve got degrees from a gumtree, a supertafe and a sandstone, and I can say they’ve all got their advantages and disadvantages, strengths and weaknesses. You’re right that a gumtree degree might offer a pathway to a Go8 uni, but that doesn’t really argue against my original statement that alludes to the general perception that the degree itself is virtually useless for career aspirations. In fact, your argument seems to reinforce my original proposition.

        But you are absolutely right about Bond Uni. I forgot all about it, perhaps because I don’t really regard it as a proper university.

  • heh.. i recognize that picture. P block at QUT – probably just before or after a stent exchange fair.

  • Matters not what uni you go to unless you want to become an academic.

    All Australian uni’s are a joke.

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