Popular Undergraduate Courses in Australia
International students who want to take up undergraduate studies in Australia need to know not only the best higher education institutions but also the most popular courses in Australia. This is especially true if your ultimate goal is to stay permanently in Australia. Popular fields typically lead to in-demand jobs, and you definitely want to be qualified for these in-demand careers.
Even without that consideration, however, knowing the most popular courses is still important. Popular fields generally get a lion's share of higher educational providers' funds; educational institutions typically spend a lot of money on program development and relevant facilities for these programs since they want to attract the bulk of enrolments in these fields.
This article will tell you about fields of education which are popular amongst all undergraduate students in Australia. This will also discuss the most popular courses amongst international students who are taking up undergraduate studies in Australia. Before we proceed to specific fields and courses, however, we should first try to understand the different levels of undergraduate education in Australia.
The Different Levels
In Australia, the higher education sector offers different undergraduate course levels. In other words, they are the undergraduate qualifications that you can obtain in Australia. The different undergraduate qualifications are diploma, advanced diploma, associate degree and bachelor's degree.
- Diploma and Advanced Diploma
Diploma and advanced diploma courses are technically oriented; they are focused on skill-building. Diploma and advanced diploma undergraduate courses are primarily offered by vocational education institutions but some universities also now offer these types of undergraduate qualifications.
Diploma and advanced diploma courses can be taken up by secondary school or high school graduates who wish to learn a trade; they can also be taken up by university graduates who wish to add and enhance their particular skills. Diploma programmes take approximately two years of full-time study whereas advanced diploma programmes take around three years.
- Associate Degree
An associate degree undergraduate programme typically takes two years of full-time study. This is the conceptual, foundational and academic counterpart of the former types. Instead of learning specific and highly specialised skills, undergrad students in associate degree programmes become generalists. Thus, associate degree graduates can usually find generic jobs in various fields that are related to their degree; they can also usually work towards a bachelor degree in various interrelated disciplines afterwards.
- Bachelor Degree
Bachelor degree programmes combine skills and theory. They teach students the concepts of a field as well as the skills necessary for employment. Students of general bachelor degree courses are generalists who can choose to specialise.
Bachelor degree programmes usually take three years. However, there are Graduate Entry programmes that take only two years; they are for those who want to undertake further studies, say, a Master Degree programme, in a particular discipline.
Some three-year bachelor degree programmes can be extended to four years; the additional year is required for an Honours Bachelor Degree. Students of programmes that take four years or more, however, can be awarded an Honours Bachelor Degree if they perform well in their undergrad studies.
It is also possible to obtain a combination bachelor degree - i.e. the subjects are taken from two separate degrees. Such dual degree courses typically take a minimum of four years. There are also bachelor degrees that include an additional year for skills-building or on-the-job training.
Top 3 Fields in the Undergraduate Level
To come up with the list of the most popular fields of education in the undergraduate level, the 2007 higher education statistics from the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) was used. Other sources of data include the April 2008 research snapshot from the Australian Education International (AEI) on international students in Australia from 2005 to 2007 and the DEEWR report on Undergraduate Applications, Offers and Acceptances 2008.
- Management and Commerce
In 2007, over 207,000 undergraduate-level students in Australia were enrolled in a program that belongs to the Management and Commerce broad field of education. Specifically, 26.54% of all enrolled undergraduate students in Australia that year were enrolled in programmes in this field; majority of them were female. Incoming university students in Australia also seem to prefer this field; this is the third most popular amongst incoming undergraduate students in 2008.
Undergrad courses in this field are particularly popular to international students in Australia. Around 53.28% of the overseas students in Australia in 2007 were enrolled in this field.
- Society and Culture
More than 166,000 or about 21.30% of all undergraduate students in Australia in 2007 were enrolled in programmes under the Society and Culture field. Most of these undergrad students are female.
This is the most popular field amongst incoming university students in Australia who were surveyed in 2008. Around 31.45% of these students have taken up courses that belonged to the Society, Culture and Creative Arts category (this is actually a combination of two standard broad fields of education: society & culture and creative arts); around 14% of these incoming students opted to study Law-related undergraduate programs (e.g. Bachelor of Arts/Laws, Associate Degree of Law, etc).
Health courses are the third most popular amongst all undergraduate students in Australia. Around 101,000 (or 12.98%) of undergraduate students in 2007 were taking up courses under this field. Around 73.37% of them, furthermore, are female.
Amongst eligible year-12 students surveyed in 2008, Health is the second most popular field. About 18.77% of these students have chosen to take up Health programs. In 2007, this field is also the third most popular amongst undergrad international students in Australia and the fifth most popular from 2005 to 2007.
Top 3 Undergraduate Specialisations
The following are the top 3 undergrad specialisations amongst undergraduate international students.
Accounting is the most special specialisation amongst undergrad international students in Australia. In 2007, more than 25,200 international students were taking up accounting-specific undergrad courses. Some courses that could lead to specialisation in Accounting include Bachelor of Commerce, Bachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Economics.
- Business and Management
This is the second-most popular specialisation amongst international students in Australia. More than 11,100 undergrad international students chose to enrol in programs that lead to business and management specialisations or skills.
- Information Systems
Nearly 4,000 international students were enrolled in undergrad courses that lead to information systems specialisation. Courses in this specific field include Bachelor of Information Technology, Bachelor of Computer Science and Technology, and Bachelor of Engineering (Computer).