For years, future of work reports have warned of major disruption. Artificial intelligence is spreading automation from the factory floor to the offices of university-educated professionals. Workers in jobs that don’t disappear will need different skills and regular retraining.
This scenario sounds promising for universities and other education providers, who can prosper from lifelong learners. But recent enrolment data suggest a more complex relationship between work and further education. While overall Australian postgraduate student numbers remain high by historical standards, fewer domestic students commenced postgraduate coursework degrees in 2018 for the fourth consecutive year, amounting to a 10 per cent fall since 2014’s peak.
Moreover, overall numbers are trending downwards despite the growing pool of prospective postgraduates;