The total number of students attending undergraduate university courses has grown by an estimated 50,000 over a two year period.


Data released by Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations Christopher Evans shows the increase between 2009 and 2011.


“In 2011, more than 480 000 undergraduate places are being funded – an increase of 10 per cent since 2009. Regional universities taken together also have 10 per cent more student places than in 2009.” Senator Evans said


As a result of this growth, more than 200 000 students are estimated to have commenced undergraduate studies in public universities this year.


Skills Australia has forecast that by 2025 a third of all jobs will require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree qualification


Increases in university enrolments will make a major contribution to the Government’s national target that by 2025, 40 per cent of all 25 to 34-year-olds will hold a qualification at bachelor’s degree level or above. In 2010, 34.2 per cent of this age group held such qualifications.


Applications and offers data shows universities are already attracting a broader range of students, particularly those from low socio-economic status (SES) backgrounds.


Between 2009 and 2010, university offers to low SES applicants also increased faster (8.8 per cent) than offers to medium SES applicants (7.8 per cent) and high SES applicants (5.8 per cent).


Preliminary data for 2011 suggests these trends have continued.


The data also shows that between 2009 and 2011, applications for undergraduate nursing courses have increased strongly by more than 18 per cent and demand for science degrees also grew by around 23 per cent.