Queensland’s regional universities had the highest percentage of graduates scoring work.
Queensland’s regional universities had the highest percentage of graduates scoring work.

Shocking truth about our best universities

QUEENSLAND'S regional universities are outperforming some of the big names in the state's capital in landing new graduates jobs and getting better pay, a surprising report reveals.

Students eagerly awaiting their university offers, to be released on Wednesday, may hope for a place at a sandstone institution.

But the 2018 Graduate Outcomes Survey, to be released today, shows Townsville-based James Cook University and Central Queensland University not only had the highest percentage of graduates securing full-time work immediately after graduating, but were among the highest in the country.

University of Southern Queensland had the highest graduate salary in the state at $67,700 a year, while JCU and CQU graduates earned about $66,000 in their first year out.

This compared to the national average starting salary of $61,000. QUT, University of Queensland and Griffith University graduates took home an average of $60,000 after completing their studies.


Almost 80 per cent of JCU and CQU students secured full-time employment immediately on graduating, compared to 66.8 per cent and 68 per cent for Griffith and QUT.

JCU vice-chancellor Sandra Harding attributed the regional institutions' success to offering hands-on-experience and community connections.

"We're able to engage very closely with employers and professional groups, and there are very real benefits in that for our graduates," she said.

"Student placements, in which they gain hands-on experience, are an integral part of many degree programs and an essential part of our employment success story."

The report noted that factors "beyond the quality of teaching, careers advice and the like, such as course offerings, the composition of the student population" could affect employment and salary outcomes.

Education Minister Dan Tehan said the number of students nationally finding full-time work within four months of graduation had increased 5 per cent since 2014 to 72.9 per cent.

"Our government's economic management has seen a record number of jobs created and this means more opportunities for university graduates to get a job and kickstart their careers," Mr Tehan said.

The report undertaken by Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching was based on 120,564 valid survey responses from people who graduated university in 2017.

Universities Australia acting chief executive Anne-Marie Lansdown said the results showed higher education was a strong investment.

"As the economy recovers from the global financial crisis, graduate employment rates and their salaries have continued to climb," she said.