Higher education students in Australia : what the new Census data tell us.

Daniel Edwards, ACER
Eva van der Brugge, ACER

Abstract

Higher education is rapidly changing at the global and the local level. In this Joining the Dots briefing, newly released data from the 2011 Census of Australian Population and Housing has been explored to provide insight into the characteristics of Australian university students and how they have changed in the first decade of the 21st century. An understanding of the university student population and how it is evolving is important for institutions, policy-makers and prospective students. This briefing provides the latest insight into university students in Australia based on the most comprehensive data collection of the Australian population available. To provide perspective on how things are changing, data from previous Censuses have also been utilised here. Census data offers a unique insight into the university student population in Australia, yet they are rarely used in analyses of higher education. Unlike other administrative data collections, it allows us to explore in detail issues relating to residential location and housing arrangements, and provides a platform for exploring the key demographics of this population. The consistency and methodological rigour with which Census data is collected offers confidence and accuracy in its results. [Author abstract]