Saturday, December 05, 2009


Job security draws school leavers to nursing, teaching


December 5, 2009 SMH

THE number of university applicants wanting to study nursing or education has risen rapidly with the promise of greater job security.

The Universities Admissions Centre said 80,211 people had applied this year to study at universities in NSW and the ACT - 2600 more than last year.

The applicants - mainly year 12 school leavers, although there have been reports of more mature-age entrants - will find out on January 20 if they have succeeded in securing a place in their chosen course.

The University of Sydney attracted the most first preferences, with 15,579 applicants. Law, pharmacy, dentistry, education, social work and science attracted the most interest.

Nursing and other health-related fields, as well as education, registered strong interest.

In the 2009-10 budget, the Federal Government announced financial incentives for students studying teaching or nursing who went on to work in those professions - graduates were entitled to an incentive of up to $1558.50 for the 2009-10 financial year. They receive the indexed payment for five years of eligible employment.

The University of Western Sydney (UWS) received more than 1100 first preferences for its bachelor of nursing degree.

At Charles Sturt University, the nursing-paramedics double degree and clinical practice paramedic program attracted 220 first preferences.

Professor Beryl Hesketh, the executive dean of the UWS College of Health and Science, said a growing number of school leavers and people wanting to upgrade qualifications were gravitating towards professional fields like nursing.

''It's also a profession that people can come to later in life as they look for a career change. Nurses also take the opportunity to upgrade their qualifications, particularly if they are returning to the profession after a career break,'' she said. ''For a number of years now there have been concerted workforce campaigns to attract more people into the nursing profession and boost the numbers of nurses for our hospitals and health services.

''Professions like nursing offer stability and job security - particularly during times of economic uncertainty.''

Lucie Parkin, the UAC communications officer, said slightly more than half of all applicants received an offer to study their first preference. She said that only 65 per cent of offers made in 2009 resulted in actual enrolments.

''Year 12 applicants tend to include more preferences than other applicants, with many listing the maximum nine preferences,'' she said.

''In many cases the courses they include as their first and second preferences are 'wishes' - courses they would really like to receive an offer for, but which, in previous years, had an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank cut-off higher than they expect to achieve.''

UAC expects about 20,000 students to change their preferences after they receive their ATAR on December 17.

''Knowing their ATAR and looking at ATAR cut-offs from previous years, they review and change their preferences based on what they would really like to do, balanced by a realistic appraisal of courses to which they may qualify for admission,'' Ms Parkin said.

University of Western Sydney: Business, commerce and nursing

Charles Sturt: Policing, nursing, paramedic studies and education

Sydney: Law, pharmacy, dentistry and education

Australian Catholic University: Nursing and education

UNSW: Optometry and science

UNE: Sports science and pharmacy

SCU: Primary education and nursing

UTS: Science and nursing

Wollongong: Creative arts, engineering and law

Macquarie: Commerce and law