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The Great (University Student) Resignation


30 March, 2022

Aiden Heke,


 Decision Inc. Australia

In part 1 of our three-part deep dive into the Great Resignation we discussed the closure of borders and the impact it has had on the arrival of skilled migrants to our shores.

In short, we haven’t let in a skilled migrant for about two years, creating a gap of more than one million workers in the Australian economy and a gap of more than half a million skilled migrants (those more than half of those skilled migrants (those classified as professionals or managers)

It would make sense, then, that University students with the necessary skills would be able to step in  and bridge the gap.

But have they?

Elon Musk has been quoted saying university is basically for fun, not for learning, and that a degree isn’t evidence of exceptional ability. This comment, from one of the world’s most successful and admired businesspeople, holds serious potential to lower university enrolment rates. And it appears that combined with other factors, it may already be happening.

In Australia, fewer students are sticking it out to see if their future success hinges on a degree.

Our review of graduation rates across nine, six and four-year degrees and higher education qualifications shows more students at Australian universities are dropping out than ever before. To cite just health-related degrees, given the inherent need for health workers in this current climate, since 2010 to today Nursing completions have dropped 10 per cent, Medicine has dropped four per cent, and Pharmacy completions have dropped from nearly 70 per cent to 53 per cent. Tourism-related completions have dropped more than 10 per cent (49.4% to 38.5%) and social work degrees have dropped more than 12 per cent.

If we’re hoping new university graduates are the silver bullet to bridging the skills gap, we’ll be sorely disappointed.

But how does this all relate to The Great Resignation? These aren’t people who are resigning in great numbers; university dropouts aren’t in the working world for a start, and those that can’t migrate here can’t resign from a job they don’t have.

In part 3 next week we crunch the numbers further to highlight how these causes are leading to the Great Resignation and confirm that, yes, it’s here and about to get worse.


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