Why university STEM degrees are more relevant than ever

University STEM degrees

In an uncertain world future, university STEM degrees are more crucial than ever – and not just to land you a job.

Recently, the Australian federal government announced sweeping changes to the costs of degree for Australian domestic students to mixed responses from Australian students

As Open Days kick off this year, many universities are offering online sessions, chat and tours for students to explore what getting into uni in 2021 looks like. Uni has been disrupted in 2020 as lockdowns kicked off and more students studied on line. So what will university STEM degrees look like in 2021? And why should you consider enrolling in university STEM degrees anyway?

Studying University STEM degrees in Australia

Minister for Education Dan Tehan says “We are facing the biggest jobs crisis since the Great Depression and our university system must respond by strengthening its focus on Australian students.”

“The Federal Government will grow the number of university places for domestic students by 39,000 in 2023 and 100,000 in 10 years. That means more Australian students will get a university degree, which is a good thing.

“We are encouraging students to tailor their studies to learn the skills that will be in demand in areas of future jobs growth. That means breaking down the traditional degree ‘silos’ by choosing units of study across disciplines and introducing a price signal to students by making degrees cheaper in areas of expected job growth.”

Read more: If you are preparing students for 21st century jobs, you’re behind the times

“Australia needs more workers with STEM qualifications,” he says. 

Industry and investors agree that university STEM degrees and research investment are critical to increasing employment.

“Australian universities are leading the way with innovations in areas including medicine, science, biotechnology and agritech,” says investment venture capital Stoic Venture Capital Managing Partner – Investments Dr Geoff Waring.

Waring points to many internationally competitive Australian companies such as ResMed and Cochlear that first emerged from university research.

“These companies have a generational impact on the Australian economy, innovation and jobs.”

Minister Tehan says STEM industries continue to boom. And people with university STEM degrees can find work in all kinds of sectors from law to arts and cultural heritage.

“Projections prepared before the COVID-19 pandemic showed that over the five years to 2024, science and technology was one of four industries projected to provide 62 per cent of total employment growth,” says Minister Tehan.

“The Coalition Government will provide $900 million to establish the National Priorities and Industry Linkage Fund – with a strong focus on investment in STEM industries – to support universities to produce job-ready graduates for their local industries and communities.

Strategies from the top 

Minister Tehan recently announced a working group of university Vice Chancellors who will help Government design the fund to:

  • Increase the number of internships and practicums;
  • Increase the number of STEM graduates and improving their employment outcomes; and
  • Reward formal research partnerships with industries and advanced apprenticeships.

“Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel has said: ‘STEM education addresses real world problems and is useful to us and the wider community in many, many ways.’”

Read next: Three regional schools are the latest to benefit from STEM industry school partnership program

Heather Catchpole

Author: Heather Catchpole

Heather co-founded Careers with STEM publisher Refraction Media. She loves storytelling, Asian food & dogs and has reported on science stories from live volcanoes and fossil digs

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