All program types experienced falls in completion
rates. However, the largest decreases were seen in primary ITE program completions and, in particular, primary postgraduate programs.
- The largest decrease was observed in primary postgraduate
programs, making it the program type with the lowest completion rate amongst all postgraduate programs.
- Of all undergraduate programs, completion rates for primary
undergraduate programs saw the largest decrease, compared with the other undergraduate program types (see Table 6).
- Early childhood undergraduate programs fell at a slower pace but had the lowest completion rate (49%) amongst undergraduate programs.
Table 6: Completion rates by program type
When discussing completion rates, a combination of six-year completion rates for undergraduate programs and four-year completion rates for postgraduate programs are used; this reflects the point by which almost all students have completed their
studies or exited the program for undergraduate and postgraduate respectively. In the most recent cohorts, just 3% of students were continuing with their study after these six-year and four-year windows. With current data available up to 2019,
six-year completion rates for undergraduate courses can be reported for those commencing up to 2014, while four-year completion rates for postgraduate courses can be reported up to 2016.
| ||2005||2014||Percentage point change||2005||2016||Percentage point change|
While the completion rates for other program types saw relatively steady declines from 2005 to 2016, a steep and sudden drop of 11 percentage points was observed for completion rates in postgraduate primary programs from 2014 to 2015, which did not
bounce back thereafter.
As noted above, the decline in postgraduate completions and completion rates has likely been influenced by a range of factors with competing effects including the characteristics of the students and the modes of study chosen by the cohort completing
in this time frame or changes to program offerings. Additionally, this analysis is at the national level and policy changes are rolled out gradually and differently across states and territories.
However, the timing of this drop seems to coincide with the phasing
out of one-year ITE postgraduate programs to two years. While this change was gradually implemented for primary programs from 2013 to 2018, a large transition to two-year postgraduate primary programs occurred in 2015. The impact of
this transition was initially observed as a drop in one-year completion rates for postgraduate primary programs from the 2015 cohort onwards. This trend was then seen to continue with a drop in two-year and four-year completion rates from the
2015 cohort onwards.
- Prior to 2015, one-year completion rates for postgraduate primary programs were approximately 30%. This fell to approximately 10% from 2015.
- Prior to 2015, two-year completion rates for postgraduate primary programs were approximately 70%. This fell to approximately 50% from 2015.
- Prior to 2015, four-year completion rates for postgraduate primary programs were approximately 80%. This fell to approximately 67% from 2015.
A similar pattern was observed in postgraduate secondary programs commencing in 2018 which coincided with a large transition to two-year program durations in that year. This shift was followed by a drop in one-year and two-year completion rates for
postgraduate secondary programs.
- Prior to 2018, one-year completion rates for postgraduate secondary programs were approximately 30%. This fell to approximately 8% from 2018.
- Prior to 2018, two-year completion rates for postgraduate secondary programs were approximately 65%. This fell to approximately 55% from 2018.
- The pattern seen in primary programs suggests that the four-year postgraduate secondary program completion rates will likely be lower than in previous years. Four-year completion rate data for postgraduate secondary programs will be available
once 2021 data is released.
In future years, with further analysis and investigation, it can be determined with greater certainty the correlation between the duration of ITE programs and its impact on program four-year completion rates. This may also allow investigation of the
supports that can increase completion rates in these programs.
First-year attrition rates have been increasing consistently since 2005 for both full-time and part-time students, undergraduate, and postgraduate programs with first-year attrition rates peaking
2018 (See Figure 8).
Any increase in first-year attrition will negatively impact future completion rates. With the highest ever postgraduate first-year attrition rates observed in 2018, it is likely that the completion rates for the 2018 commencing postgraduate cohort
will be lower than in previous years. Taken together with the overall drop in commencements in 2018, the higher first-year attrition rate is likely to further strain teacher supply from 2020 onwards.Figure 8: First-year attrition rates
Four-year completion rates for multi-modal postgraduate programs, for ITE students commencing in 2016, were comparable or higher than the completion rates for programs delivered on campus or online. For undergraduate programs, multi-modal completion
rates have consistently been higher than those for online courses and almost equal to on-campus completion rates.
This data suggest that some on-campus study is associated with higher chances of completion than online study alone. While it is important to note that not all students will be able to undertake multi-modal study, and that online study is an important
provision, with the right support mechanisms in place, multi-modal study may be an attractive and successful mode of study for prospective students.
When paired with the growth in students commencing multi-modal ITE programs the data suggests that multi-modal programs may be both increasingly appealing to prospective ITE students and more successful
in ensuring completion of study, moving graduates into the supply pipeline. ITE program offerings will need to keep pace with the evolving needs and preferences of incoming ITE students through the provision of purpose-designed, flexible modes
of study and program delivery.Figure 9: Completion rates by mode of study
Individuals enrolled in ITE programs may encounter obstacles to completion that, if unsupported, could result in their early withdrawal or discontinuation of study. This would have adverse effects on yield from ITE programs and, ultimately, supply
into the workforce to meet teacher demand. By analysing the patterns seen in completion rates, we can begin to identify the characteristics of students most at risk of non-completion and the areas in which additional support may be most required.
analysis of completion rates has shown that failure to complete online study covaries significantly with demographic variables also associated with low completion rates. For example, those studying online are more likely to be part-time and/or mature-aged
and/or from regional/remote areas. These factors may contribute as much, if not more, to a student's likelihood of completion as their mode of study.
Further analysis of longitudinal data from subsequent ATWD collections is required to provide definitive insight into the covariance of mode of study and student characteristics on completion of ITE. However, current data provides further insight
into the student risk factors.
ITE students 31 years or older were less likely to complete their ITE program than all other age groups, and experienced a steeper rate of decline in completions for these students over time (Figure 10). This was true for both postgraduate and undergraduate
- The completion rate for postgraduate programs for those 31 years or older who commenced in 2016, was 17 percentage points lower than all other age groups, while
undergraduate completion rates for those 31 years or older who commenced in 2014 was 7 percentage points lower.
- From 2005, the rates of completion for postgraduate programs for those over 31 years recorded a steeper decline (-18 percentage points) than all other age groups (-9 percentage points), with the trend being mirrored to a lesser extent for
undergraduate completion rates (see Figure 14).
A number of other characteristics that are also associated with lower completion rates tend to be more common amongst ITE students aged 31 years or older than other age groups. Specifically, those aged 31 years or older are more likely to undertake
their courses part-time through online modes of study. There are a number of possible reasons for this. These students could be making a mid-career change, may need to balance their ITE study commitments with family commitments, or may have pre-existing
financial commitments that requires them to combine study with paid work. Investigating this further may allow targeted support to be provided for this group, which could improve their likelihood of completion and inform policy interventions aimed
at attracting mid-career changers.
Figure 10: Completion rates by age
In 2019, ITE students studying online experienced the lowest completion rates, with this mode of delivery recording much lower completion rates than other modes of study. The difference in completion rates for online programs compared to other modes
of program delivery was at its highest for postgraduate degree levels.
- Postgraduate online programs had a four-year completion rate of 52%, 29 percentage points lower than the completion rate for multi-modal (81%) and on-campus programs (81%).
- Undergraduate online programs had a six-year completion rate of 37%, 11 percentage points lower than the completion rate for multi-modal programs (48%) and 17 percentage points lower than the completion rate for on-campus programs (53%).
The lower completion rates for postgraduate programs do not seem to be caused by a higher proportion of part-time enrolments who remain enrolled after 4 years. The proportion of students still enrolled by their fourth year was only around 5%, suggesting
that completion rates will not markedly improve even once all remaining enrolments complete.Figure 11: Completion rates by degree level and mode of study.
*2008 data unavailable for online and multi-modal postgraduate courses due to small cell sizes.
Part-time students have consistently recorded lower completion rates than full-time students, however this gap has widened for postgraduate programs from 23 percentage points in 2005 to 41 percentage
points in 2019.
The deterioration in the completion rate has a major impact on supply. Part-time students made up 19% of commencements in 2019 and a large proportion of those taking up part-time study were over the age of 31 and/or studying online. Figure 12: Completion rates by attribute