Higher Education Research

Publication Date

8-2008

Comments

Report to the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations

Abstract

This report is the first in a project that investigates the demand for and supply of people with science and mathematics postgraduate qualifications in Australia. This report is divided into two main parts: a literature review and a data analysis. The report uses numerous national data sets to present a picture of the supply, demand and employment dynamics of postgraduates in the natural and physical sciences in Australia. The figures indicate an increasing number of postgraduates are completing studies in these fields. However, compared with other fields of education, supply in the natural and physical sciences is increasing at a slower rate. When compared to international data, the Australian higher education supply figures appear relatively robust, with growth in these fields occurring at a greater rate than a number of other countries. The report also examined the academic workforce in the natural and physical sciences in Australia. The Australian figures relating to the terms of academic employment show there is a trend towards short-term contracts and a trend away from tenured positions. International research suggests that such a situation is unlikely to continue to attract and retain academics in these areas in the future.