Australian bachelor degrees: the most and least popular

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 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.

Head of data and analytics at Good Education Media, 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.

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, 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 – 2016 vs. 2001

Field of study 20162011Change
Society and culture 66,88447,160+29.5%
Management and commerce44,01935,022+20.4%
Natural and physical sciences30,26617,441+42.4%
Creative arts19,92213,568+31.9%
Information technology9,01912,357-37.0%
Architecture and building6,4633,670+43.2%
Environmental studies3,4853,913-12.3%


The Good Careers Guide 2019 lists over 500 job descriptions including their skill and training requirements, related courses and occupations, as well as career advice and industry insights. For more information visit

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


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    September 11, 2019 at 9:33 pm

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