NCSEHE/ADCET Webinar: Beyond graduation: Long-term socioeconomic outcomes amongst equity students
Year Published: 2019
Lead Researcher: Wojtek Tomaszewski
The Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training (ADCET) in partnership with the NCSEHE presented this webinar by Dr Wojtek Tomaszewski from the University of Queensland. Wojtek detailed the outcomes from recent research revealing 15-year trends in equity students’ post-university outcomes, including measures of health and wellbeing, as well as employment and financial status.
Research consistently shows that higher education participation has positive impacts on individual outcomes. However, few studies explicitly consider differences in these impacts by students’ equity status and, those which do, fail to examine graduate trajectories over the long run, non-labour outcomes and relative returns.
The webinar presented results that address these knowledge gaps by investigating the short and long-term socioeconomic trajectories of Australian university graduates from equity groups and compare them with outcomes for non-equity students across multiple domains. The equity groups investigated in the analysis included students from low socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds, non-English-speaking background (NESB), students from regional/remote areas, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Indigenous) students, and students with disability.
The research team used high-quality longitudinal data from two sources: the Australian Longitudinal Census Dataset and the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey. For most of the groups investigated in this report, the trajectories of equity and non-equity graduates appeared to converge over the longer run so that any initial differences disappeared after seven to eight years post-graduation. However, there were two notable exceptions to this pattern: students of an Indigenous background, and students with disability. Both groups reported significantly inferior outcomes compared with their non-equity counterparts, particularly in terms of physical and mental health, and subjective wellbeing, as captured by life satisfaction.
While based on small samples, and arguably reflecting a broader underlying disadvantage for these two equity groups, these findings highlight that this kind of disadvantage is not easily alleviated through the completion of a university degree alone, but also requires a concerted policy effort within and beyond the higher education sector.