The Courier-Mail

Uncapped universiti­es are flooding the workforce

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Labor removed the cap on government-funded university places three years ago, opening the way for record numbers of students to enter courses.

Commonweal­th-supported places blew out from 469,000 in 2009 to 577,000 in 2013, and the cost of the university loans scheme has ballooned to more than $30 billion, with some students owing $400,000 for their tuition.

But since the GFC, the proportion of graduates finding work has fallen from more than 85 per cent in 2008 to less than 70 per cent last year.

Starting salaries for those who do find work have flatlined, the research by Graduate Careers Australia reveals.

More than 11 per cent of graduates aren’t working at all, but thousands of others have been forced to work part time.

Skills and training chiefs are demanding that higher priority be given to the trades “as a genuine choice”.

“Many schools, students and parents have their sights set on university and tend to regard a vocational career as a second choice,” Group Training Australia chief executive Jim Barron said. “The status of an apprentice­ship should be seen as equivalent to a university education.”

Graduates who are most likely to be looking for work are in fields such as visual and performing arts, life and social

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