Australian Graduates finding their feet three years down the track.


The Social Research Centre has released the 2019 Graduate Outcomes Survey – Longitudinal (GOS-L) report as part of the Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT) suite of surveys. 

The GOS-L is an online survey of graduates who completed the 2016 QILT Graduate Outcomes Survey (GOS), to see how their career or further study has progressed in the three years to 2019.

Lisa Bolton, Director QILT Research and Strategy, welcomed the new report.

"The GOS-Longitudinal is arguably the most important survey in the QILT suite because it tells a comprehensive story about the medium-term employment outcomes for Australian higher education graduates." 

"The 2019 GOS-L report shows that graduate labour market outcomes improve substantially over the first three years after graduation." Ms Bolton said.

"In 2016, 72.6 per cent of undergraduates who went on to complete the GOS-L were in full-time employment, four months after completing their course. In 2019, the full-time employment rate for the same cohort of graduates had risen to 90.1 per cent."

"This represents an increase of 17.5 percentage points in the full-time employment over the three years following graduation and represents the highest full-time employment rate three years after graduation since 2013."

Similarly, the median salary of undergraduates employed full-time in 2016 was $58,700 and three years later the median salary of this same cohort of graduates had increased by $14,100 or by 24 per cent to $72,800.

Undergraduates from more "generalist" fields of education such as Creative arts, Science and mathematics and Humanities, culture and social sciences, have weaker employment outcomes immediately upon graduation compared with those in more "vocational" degrees such as Medicine and Pharmacy. However, the gap in employment outcomes across study areas tends to narrow over time. 

The 2019 GOS-L report and website also includes full-time employment rates and salaries broken down by institution. "This shows that while undergraduates from some universities struggle to secure full-time employment immediately upon graduation, often because of the mix of qualifications that institutions offer and the geographic location of their students." said Ms Bolton. 

"Institutions with a higher proportion of graduates who are older and studied online tend to have more graduates who are already established in the workforce and so start out with higher full-time employment rates.  However, younger, on campus students entering the workforce start to close the gap over the three-year period".

"In terms of the gender salary gap, we see that females who completed the GOS-L earned $2,500 less than males, or 4.2 per cent in the short term.  This salary gap increases over time and three years later the salary gap increases to $4,900 or 6.5 per cent"

The GOS-L also reports on the outcomes of postgraduates.

According to the report, 86.0 per cent of postgraduate by coursework graduates are in full-time employment in the short term, increasing to 93.0 per cent three years later.  Full-time salaries are also substantially higher than for undergraduates by around $22,300 in the short-term and $22,200 in the medium term with full-time median salaries of around $95,000.

However, in terms of the gender salary gap, male graduates earned more than females by $15,500 or 17.0 per cent in the short term which increased to a gap in full-time salaries of $20,300 or 18.5 per cent three years later.

"Postgraduate coursework study is more often undertaken in conjunction with ongoing employment or in relation to specific career progression compared with undergraduates or postgraduate research students, however the gap in employment rates between these groups narrows considerably over the three years of the survey."   

For those completing postgraduate by research qualifications, 80.9 per cent were in full-time employment in the short term, but this increased to 91.0 per cent by 2019 as this cohort establish themselves in their careers.

Postgraduate research graduates also earn substantially more three years out, with a median salary of $100,400 in 2019 and we see a much smaller gap in salaries between males and females with a gender gap in postgraduate research graduate salaries of $4,800 or 5.5 per cent in 2016 four months after graduation. Three years later this gap had narrowed to $3,900 or 3.8 per cent.

Key outcomes:



Postgraduate Coursework

Postgraduate Research








Full-time employment







Overall employment







Labour Force Participation







Median Full-time Salary







Full results, data visualisations and detailed tables are available on the QILT website at:

About the 2019 Graduate Outcomes Survey – Longitudinal (GOS-L)

The 2019 GOS-L data was compiled by the Social Research Centre, a leading independent centre for the provision of services related to research design, survey management, statistical consulting and analytical thinking.

Participation in the GOS-L was open to graduates from any higher education institution that participated in the 2016 Graduate Outcomes Survey. Seventy-five institutions chose to participate, including 40 universities and 35 non-university higher education institutions (NUHEIs).

The 2019 GOS-L achieved an overall response rate of 55.9 per cent compared with a response rate in 2018 of 43.3 per cent across undergraduate, postgraduate coursework and postgraduate research graduates. This represents a total of 42,466 responses across Australia.

Australian Graduates finding their feet three years down the track. (3)

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