Some universities miss the mark on student outcomes

An Australian universities rating has ranked the best and worst universities for a number of student experience and outcome measures.

None of the largest Sydney universities or group of eight institutions scored top marks for students’ starting salaries and only the University of New South Wales (UNSW) scored well for the proportion of students in full-time employment.

The University of Sydney, UNSW, the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Macquarie University and Western Sydney University all scored below the national average for overall student experience, with UTS, UNSW and Sydney University ranked in the bottom six in the country for this measure in the latest Good Universities Guide.

The University of Notre Dame, Bond University and Edith Cowan University were the top-ranked for a number of university experience measures, including overall student experience, skills development, student support and teaching quality, in the Guide, which is compiled by Good Education Group and was released on Monday.

“Universities place importance on different things, a lot of smaller universities may focus more on the student experience on campus and provide a variety of student support services,” Makayla Daglish, head of partnerships at the Good Education Group, said.

“We know students now are going to have many career changes and might not end up in the field they studied so for some of the student outcome measures, it’s more about whether the university is setting students up with the skills and industry connections to get a full-time job.”

Charles Sturt University was ranked at the top nationally for the proportion of students in full-time jobs four months after completing their degree, followed by Charles Darwin University and the University of Southern Queensland.

USQ received the highest rank for graduates’ starting salaries, with its students earning a median of $63,800. CDU, Central Queensland University and the University of Tasmania were also ranked highly for this measure.

However, a number of group of eight universities were ranked in the top 10 for student retention, with Bond University, The University of Melbourne, UNSW, the Australian National University, Sydney University and UTS found to have retention rates significantly above the national average.

Many of the larger universities were also found to have lower student-to-teacher ratios, with Bond University, ANU, UNSW, Murdoch University, Flinders University and Sydney University all found to have 20 or fewer students per teacher.

UTS, Southern Cross University, Charles Sturt University and the Australian Catholic University received the lowest rankings for this measure, with each found to have 25 or more students per teacher.

The annual index, which only looks at Australian universities, frequently delivers different results to many of the major international university rankings, which continue to rank group of eight universities at the top among Australian institutions.

The University of Melbourne, Sydney University, the University of Queensland and ANU were the only Australian universities ranked in the top 100 in this year’s Centre for World Universities Rankings and last year’s international Times Higher Education index.

However, Ms Daglish said the latest Guide looks at different measures to the international rankings.

“Those rankings look at areas like research, the number of publications and funding received, which may not mean much to the average year 12 school-leaver,” Ms Daglish said.

“The purpose of The Good Universities Guide is for students to be able to choose the category that’s most important to them, whether that be teacher-student ratio, student experience, graduate outcomes.”

Universities Australia chief executive Catriona Jackson said all universities across the state and nation delivered strong quality and results and pointed to global comparisons.

“On graduate jobs and earnings, student satisfaction and teaching, all Australian universities deliver at a very high-level of quality, and you see that affirmed when you look overseas to other national university systems,” Ms Jackson said.

 

This article originally appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald – Sydney universities miss the mark on student outcomes

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