Australia Today

Bachelor Degree Enrolments Have Dropped 12% In Under A Decade

Data released by the ABS this month has revealed 35% of Australians held a bachelor’s degree in 2022.
Arielle Richards
Melbourne, AU
Bachelor Degree Enrolments Drop 12% In Under A Decade
The University of Melbourne campus in Melbourne, Australia

The number of students enrolled in bachelor degrees has dropped 12 per cent in under a decade.

Data released by the ABS this month has revealed 35 per cent of Australians held a bachelor’s degree in 2022, and 45 per cent of 25-34 year-olds. In 2022, around 815,700 people were enrolled in bachelor degrees, compared with 934,700 in 2016. 

Experts have warned the drop could be due to cost of living pressures, and perceived costs of education deterring students from attending university.


The deputy dean in the faculty of education at Monash University, Professor Lucas Walsh told Guardian Australia that cost of living pressures shouldn’t be underestimated.

“We have a changing labour market, volatile wider economy … you can’t underestimate cost of living pressures – it’s going to affect decisions,” he said.

“It’s also coming amid a slow decline in year 12 equivalent completion – young people are working more and in multiple jobs but less inclined towards formal education.”

Monash University’s annual youth barometer found nine in ten young people had experienced financial stress in the past year. The barometer, released Monday, interviewed more than 500 Australians between 18 and 24, finding a high level of work insecurity and casualisation among them.

Melbourne University’s Taking the Pulse of the Nation report, released in October, found financial barriers were the greatest obstruction to young Australians pursuing higher education, with 60 per cent of respondents stating expensive tuition fees were deterring people from university studies, with a further 52 per cent of respondents stating doubts around whether university study would lead to a better job was a deterrent to pursuing higher education.


July’s Australian Universities Accord Interim Report estimated that 55 per cent of Australian jobs could require a university degree by 2050. The Interim report recommended “bold, long-term change” in order to meet the coming challenges.

Between 2016 and 2022, overall enrolments in the higher education sector have dropped by 4 per cent (1.32m compared with 1.27m).

The number of Australians with tertiary education sits slightly below the OECD average.

The nation only has one institution, the University of Melbourne, in the Times Higher Education World University Ranking’s top 50.

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