Five key business course trends from Australian universities

feature-graduation-day-thumbBudding entrepreneurs looking for a good business education don’t need to escape Australia to do so, according to new figures, with five of our universities making it into the world’s top 100.


According to the Academic Ranking of World Universities, the University of Melbourne, the Australian National University, the University of Queensland, the University of Sydney and the University of Western Australia are among the world’s best.


But as our universities continue to rise through the ranks, how are business students faring? What are Australian universities doing to help create the next generation of entrepreneurs?


StartupSmart did some digging to highlight the major trends you should be aware of:



1. A degree is more desirable than ever


According to the Australian Council for Education Research, which analysed census data, university enrolments between 2006 and 2011 experienced their fastest growth rate in 20 years.


ACER’s research briefing, which analyses data from the 2011 census, aims to provide insight into the characteristics of Australian university students and how they have changed.


The analysis reveals the number of university students grew by 25.1% between 2006 and 2011, taking the total number from 745,445 to 932,436.


This increase contrasts with the previous five-year period when the university student population grew by only 3.2%.


No other census period in the past 20 years has recorded the rate of growth identified in this new census data.


The research briefing found the growth was recorded in all age groups, not just high school graduates.


After a decline in the number of students aged 25 and over between 2001 and 2006, the growth in mature-age students from 2006 to 2011 was as large as the growth in students aged below 25.



2. Older students are more likely to start-up


Afreen Huq, a lecturer at RMIT University in Melbourne, is the program director of the university’s Bachelor of Business (Entrepreneurship) course.


According to Huq, there has been no significant change in the number of students enrolling in the course, despite controversial changes to its structure.


“In terms of students wanting to enrol, the number varies from year to year but it’s always anything above 200 or 250. In 2010, we had 700 applications,” Huq says.


“I guess with the introduction of the common Bachelor of Business, it’s across business. It’s not just entrepreneurship. Every single thing has been put under the same [banner].”


“It was only introduced from September 1, 2012, so it’s a bit too early to make projections [about its success].”


However, Huq is seeing a clear shift with regard to the type of students who launch businesses as a result of their education.


“In our program, about 60% of our students go and find a job with an employer,” she says.


“About 20% of our students actually do start up-businesses. The remaining percentage does something else.”


“Some students are already in business while in the program, and those are the ones that continue with their endeavour.”


“They came back [to university] to do the study – they’re the ones that tend to start their own business. They tend to be older and more experienced.”


“The ones that come into the program as fresh high school leavers tend to go into a job.”


Huq says students don’t face any pressure from the university to go and start a business.


“What we encourage people to do is to take a more pragmatic approach in terms of how prepared you are, and the networks and the experiences you have,” she says.


“Finding a job in the industry that interests a particular student, with a view to starting up a business there in the next couple of years, is perceived to be the right way.”


“It’s something they decide on their own after understanding what is required of them.”


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