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State of the social sciences 2021 3 MB

Social sciences are the fields of research on, and knowledge about, society. They are deeply connected and embedded in our social systems and structures, and touch every person at various points in their lives. Within Australia, the social science ecosystem comprises:

  • At least 50,000 social science researchers and teaching academics (about 40% of the university teaching workforce, plus many more in private, government and other research organisations).
  • Over 150 university-based and independent research centres, and many more formal and informal researcher networks.
  • 580,000 undergraduate and 271,000 postgraduate social science students (in 2019), distributed across the 2,500 bachelor-level programs, 1,700 master-level courses and 400 doctoral programs available across the country.
  • At least 500,000 social science graduates working as accountants, psychologists, lawyers and other social science accredited professionals.
  • Over 50 research, teaching and professional social science associations and societies.
  • 1.2 million students undertaking vocational social science training (in 2020).
  • 3.8 million graduates with social science qualifications who use and apply their knowledge and skills in a variety of jobs and contexts, as well as in everyday life.
  • Every student studying foundational social science at school.

The report was developed in consultation with hundreds of sector stakeholders. It examines five key components of the social sciences sector:

  1. First Nations Australians
  2. Primary and secondary education
  3. Vocational Education and Training (VET)
  4. Higher education
  5. Research

There is a high-level scorecard for each component, along with a number of detailed ‘drill-down’ sections. The report identifies 5 broad sector challenges and 26 specific priorities for action across the breadth of the social science ecosystem.

Related Information

State of the social sciences report: discussion paper

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