AUSTRALIA: Demand for university outstrips supply

Student demand in Australia's university sector is outstripping supply as the job market tightens, with official numbers revealing that 18,500 eligible applicants missed out on a place this year, up from 12,600 last year, reports Andrew Trounson for The Australian. While the number of applicants receiving an offer rose by 1.7% to 191,068, the number of applicants jumped by 5.6% to 249,743. It is the biggest increase in applications since 2002.

"The increase in demand for university places observed in 2009 can be explained in part by a flight to security in periods of economic uncertainty - the tendency for people to position themselves for more secure and rewarding employment through the attainment of higher qualifications,'" Universities Australian chief executive Glenn Withers told The Australian.

But the rise in so-called unmet demand highlights the scale of the challenge the sector faces in expanding to meet not only demand but also ambitious government participations targets. The Rudd government has set a target of increasing the proportion of 25-34 year olds with at least a bachelor degree level qualification from around 30% to 40% by 2025.
Full report on The Australian site