The Australian higher education sector has had a number of changes in the recent past. Notably, the Bradley (2008) Review of Australian Higher Education had recommended an increase in higher education access and completion by individuals from equity groups or backgrounds. Since the Bradley Review, there have been increases in the higher education participation of individuals from equity groups.
This study widens the evidence base in that it assesses a range of employment outcomes of disadvantaged students, and further, utilises data from multiple universities from one Australian state. Outcomes assessed include the probability of employment, qualification-job match, job quality, and earnings. Hence, the assessment of the graduates’ labour market performance contributes by examining key outcomes which are primary motivating factors behind higher education access and equity policies. In addition, individuals in the key equity groups tend to belong to groups who face labour market disadvantage.
While graduates from low SES and regional/remote backgrounds fared favourably, graduates from non-English speaking backgrounds lagged behind other graduates in finding a job and job earnings (particularly for female graduates from non-English speaking backgrounds compared to other female graduates), although there was no difference in terms of job match or job quality. Female graduates were found to be under-represented in STEM fields of study. While female STEM graduates were as likely as their male counterparts to get a job, they were much less likely to have good jobs and earned substantially less.