The number of students in higher education in Australia continues to grow strongly, reaching nearly 900,000 in the first half of 2007, according to new figures released today by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.
The record number of higher education students in the first half of 2007 represents an increase of 5.5 per cent from the same period in 2006 (increasing from 851,906 to 899,021).
Males represented 43.3 per cent (131 605) of all commencing students in the first half of 2007 while 56.7 per cent were female (172 512).
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students represented less than one per cent (0.8 per cent or8 108) of all students in the first half of 2007. However, the number of Indigenous students in public universities in the first half of 2007 increased by 6.6 per cent compared to the year before.
There is an increasing number of students attending university in Australia despite more than a decade of neglect by the previous government. This is a testament to the quality and commitment of our university leaders and the academic community.
There was a strong increase in the number of students commencing courses leading to Initial Registration as a Nurse (11.1 per cent) and a small but encouraging increase of 0.9 per cent in the number of students commencing courses providing Initial Teacher Training.
The substantial increase in new enrolments in Engineering and Related Technology is a positive change from previous years. Between 2005 and 2006 there was only a 1.4 per cent increase in this field, while numbers declined between 2003 and 2005. The rise in the first half of 2007 reflects an increase of 510 Government supported places in that year. An additional 560 places will be offered in 2008.
To address shortages in key occupations, the Rudd Government will allocate 1 500 extra nursing places and 1 500 extra early childhood education places as well as offer incentives to encourage students to study and teach maths and science.
As part of the Higher Education Revolution, the Rudd Government will also double the number of undergraduate Commonwealth Scholarships from 44,000 to 88,000 to assist students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Tables and a summary analysis of the first half of 2007 Higher Education Students Statistics are available at: http://www.dest.gov.au/highered/stats_collections