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March 4, 2013 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Yearning for an Earning

New tool enables students to lower hopes

Government’s emphasis on vocational aspects of tertiary education has been reaffirmed with the release of a Ministry of Education report on the future earning potential of students.
The report, titled Moving on up – what young people earn after their tertiary education, shows the potential salaries for a range of different study areas, projected over five years.
Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce cited civil engineering and medicine as lucrative, in demand areas of employment, and areas such as performing arts as less lucrative and of less demand.
The median salary for medical graduates is $94,257 two years after graduation, compared to $29,477 for performing arts graduates.
Joyce has highlighted the report’s information as extremely useful to any student in the midst of choosing a career.
“The data highlights the large variation in earning potential for different types of graduates, withthose studying in in-demand areas earning the most,” said Joyce. Response to the study has been mixed. Labour Party Tertiary Education spokesperson Grant Robertson said the report simply confirmed what many of us already knew.
“[It’s] hardly a revelation,” said Robertson. “I don’t think too many people will be surprised to learn that a medical graduate earns significantly more than a performing arts graduate. There really is very little that we did not already know in this report.”
Victoria’s Vice-Chancellor Pat Walsh has suggested that while the study is helpful if potential salary is a factor in determining a student’s choice of subjects, a greater concern for students is to “explore what they are interested in and what they are good at.”
77.1 per cent of students say the interest in the topic is the main reason for choosing a subject, while only 32 per cent cite earning potential as a factor.
The Ministry of Education compiled the findings by cross-referencing Inland Revenue data with tertiary qualification figures. It can be viewed at and


Gus Mitchell


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