The flaw in STEM focus
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Argument against STEM focus

Science students

As politicians continue to spruik the benefits of refocusing Australia’s education focus on STEM learning, the Grattan Institute has suggested this shouldn’t result in pushing students towards science degrees.

The Melbourne-based think tank has warned that doing so risks leaving many more graduates unemployed, citing current statistics regarding the employment rate of science and other STEM-based degrees.

Higher Education Program Director for the Grattan Institute, Andrew Norton told Fairfax Media that it would be preferable if fewer people chose to study science.

“If people think doing a Bachelor in Science will give them skills that are highly valued in the labour market then they should probably look at studying something else,” he said.

According to the Grattan Institute, while science has added 26,800 local students since 2009, only 51 percent of science graduates in 2015 found full-time work in the four months following graduation. That’s 17 percent less than the national average.

Graduates from life sciences degrees have particularly poor chances in the job market, but even maths and chemistry graduates have an employment rate below the average.

“We’ve never seen a cohort that has done this badly – we are in uncharted territory,” said Mr Norton. “I’m very nervous for the career prospects for recent science graduates.”

Perhaps even more surprising, IT graduates also struggle to find relevant full-time work after completing their degree, with a third of recent graduates not finding relevant employment after four months.

The data is all part of the Grattan Institute’s Mapping Australian higher education 2016 report, which provides a full analysis of how higher education has evolved in recent years.