Employment survey may dampen demand for Computer Science degrees

A survey showing mediocre employment outcomes for Computer Science graduates has been published just as potential students tune their university applications in the light of school certificate results.

A survey showing mediocre employment outcomes for Computer Science graduates has been published just as potential students tune their university applications in the light of school certificate results.

Monash University recently announced that as many as 100 jobs may be lost in its IT faculty, and a further reduction in demand could hurt other institutions.

The 2004 Graduate Destination Survey found only 70.5 percent of Computer Science graduates were in full-time employment within four months of completing their degrees, a figure well below the average of 79.7 percent but comparable with Physics, Life Sciences and Psychology.

More worryingly, the proportion of Computer Science graduates wholly unemployed (14.9 percent) was ranked third behind Mathematics (18.2 percent) and Visual and Performing Arts (15.1 percent).

The survey confirms anecdotal evidence that a CompSci degree is no longer a guarantee of employment, let alone a substantial salary. At AU$38,000, the average starting salary is the same as that for all graduates.

While the overall average is up AU$1,000 from 2003, when compared with average weekly earnings it has fallen for the third year in succession and now sits at 81.6 percent.

Not surprisingly, it makes a difference who you work for. Outsourcing notwithstanding, Computer Science graduates working for the Commonwealth government fared the best, with an average of AU$43,600. Those employed in professional practice or tertiary education scored AU$40,000, while state government staff received AU$39,000. Industry and commerce -- which took the bulk of the year's graduates -- dragged down the figures with an average of AU$37,000.

The good news, such that it is, is that Computer Science graduates' average starting salary is now ranked equal seventh of the 23 fields of study, up from ninth in 2003. The relatively low salaries received by pharmacists and architects prior to professional registration skew this result.

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