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Universities and TAFEs under-delivering in preparing Australians for the workplace

Study from Instructure shows Australians only 66 percent ready for their careers

SYDNEY — October 22, 2015 — Instructure, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) company and creator of the Canvas learning management system (LMS), has released the results of a 14-country study that addresses how well tertiary education is preparing students for their careers.

On a scale defining 100 percent as “fully prepared,” current and former Australian students reported the tertiary education system only prepares people for their careers 66 percent. Before entering the workplace, students are optimistic about how their tertiary education experiences will prepare them for a career, but this figure drops for graduates already in the workplace.

Australia is lagging behind much of the world, with students around the world 75 percent satisfied with their tertiary education environment, compared to Australians being 72 percent satisfied.

In positive news, considering the recent trend towards skills-based learning and hiring, 88 percent of past and present Australian students felt their tertiary education provided them with the skills needed for their careers. This was behind China and the U.S, but above Japan and Denmark.

However when asked about experience, nearly a fifth (17 percent) of Australians did not agree that their tertiary education provide career-relevant experience, which was the second worst result globally (behind Singapore at 19 percent). Students in China, the US and India reported gaining the most relevant experience, while Norway, Japan and Denmark ranked among the bottom.

Instilling lifelong learning

A third of Australians are not working in their chosen career, with international graduates from all countries surveyed, apart from Japan and Brazil, securing jobs in their chosen field more regularly than Australians.

With such high proportions of graduates moving into different careers, Australia’s tertiary education institutions must prepare students for an uncertain future by ensuring they are teaching students to teach themselves, thus empowering them for the rapidly-diversifying Australian economy.

Instilling lifelong learning, or teaching students to teach themselves, includes enabling people to self-direct, and use the skills, resources and social connections available to continuously enhance their skills.

Only two out of five students in Australia said lifelong learning is an important goal of their tertiary education institution. This is mirrored globally.

Informal learning

Australian students spend 34 percent of their time on formal learning (i.e., university or TAFE courses), 31 percent on non-formal learning (i.e., organised but outside of official courses) and 35 percent on informal learning (self-directed learning).

Researching the web was the most common source of informal learning experiences, with 94 percent of Australians doing this. Eighty-five percent of students use social media to learn and the same number participate in online courses at their institution. Only 62 percent participate in MOOCs (massive open online courses), compared to a huge uptake in this type of learning from countries such as China (90 percent), India (80 percent) and Brazil (81 percent).

Jared Stein, VP of research and education at Instructure, commented: “We're optimistic that greater insight into student perspectives on critical issues in education — such as career preparedness — will encourage innovation amongst tertiary educational institutions.”

“We live in a rapidly changing society where knowledge is quickly outdated and professional fields change constantly. Consequently, instilling the skills for lifelong learning and employing technology to allow students to pursue this may be even more important than providing students with career-related experiences. Educational institutions must not become too focused on today’s practical skills at the expense of preparing students for tomorrow’s world,” Stein added.

About the data:
7,848 current and former students in 14 countries were polled, including Australia, the United States, China, the United Kingdom, India, Brazil, Sweden and South Africa among others. 1,000 respondents were Australian, evenly split between current and former tertiary education students. Instructure designed two survey instruments: one for former students and one for current students, and executed the survey with the help of Qualtrics, LLC. Instructure’s analysis of tertiary education's role in career preparedness, lifelong learning and other associated factors were conducted via Pearson correlations, t-tests and F-tests by Country and Status. Because we were working with such a large sample size, we did not rely on statistical significance alone, but based our decisions on moderate – strong correlations (r > .25) and practical significance.

About Instructure:
Instructure, Inc. is the software-as-a-service (SaaS) technology company that makes software that makes people smarter. With a vision to help maximise the potential of people through technology, Instructure enables organisations everywhere to easily develop, deliver and manage engaging face-to-face and online learning experiences. To date, Instructure has connected millions of teachers and learners at more than 1,400 educational institutions and corporations throughout the world. Learn more about the Canvas learning management system at and

Eleanor Sampson, Hotwire PR
+61 (0) 2 8985 7294 |

Devin Knighton, Director of Public Relations at Instructure
(801) 722-8187 |
Twitter: @devinknighton |

Instructure, Canvas and the Bridge logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of Instructure, Inc. in the United States and/or other countries. Other brands and names may be claimed as the property of others.

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