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4.2 Postgraduate students

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Students participating in higher education at the postgraduate level

Current position

In 2011, women made up 57 percent of NSW postgraduate students (38,836). Men made up 43 percent (29,538) of postgraduate students.

Gender gap

  • 9,500 more NSW women than men were enrolled in a postgraduate higher education course in 2011, a 14 percentage point gap in women’s favour.
The direction of change over time

The number of women studying postgraduate degrees has increased by 30 percent since 2006 (data not shown). This rate of growth is faster than the growth in undergraduate enrolments which was 23 percent. Men’s participation also increased but more slowly at 16 percent change since 2006. From 2010 to 2011 the gap grew by 1.1 percent in favour of women.

During this time the ratio of women to men commencing postgraduate degrees has increased slightly from 1.17: 1 to 1.31: 1.


The growth in the postgraduate enrolment gender gap occurred most rapidly in Masters degrees (see Figure 3.11).

More than half (56 percent) of all female postgraduate students are aged 30 and over and 11 percent are aged 50 and over.

In 2011 only 3 percent of Australian-born women in NSW had attained a postgraduate qualification. In contrast, 18 percent of those born in Southern and Central Asia, 12 percent of those born in North-East Asia and 11 percent of those born in the Americas had a postgraduate qualification (see Figure 3.12).

Only 1 percent of Aboriginal women had attained a postgraduate qualification in 2011.

This indicator reports on all domestic students enrolled in postgraduate courses in Australia who in 2011 gave NSW as their state of permanent home location.

Year collected: 2011.
Data source: Department of Innovation, Higher Education Statistics Collection (Student Collection), unpublished data.

Figure 3.11 Women’s share of enrolments by course level, 2006 and 2011

Fig 3.11

Note: Masters level enrolments in the above figure include: graduate certificate, graduate diploma and Masters degrees by research or coursework. Bachelor’s degree enrolments include: Bachelor’s graduate entry, Bachelor’s honours and Bachelor’s pass. Other courses include: associate degree, advanced diploma, diploma and other undergraduate award courses.
Population: NSW residents who enrolled in a higher education course in 2006 and 2011.

Figure 3.12 Women undertaking higher education by country of birth, NSW domestic students, 2011

Fig 3.12

Population: NSW women who were enrolled in a higher education course in 2011.
Source: Department of Innovation, Higher Education Statistics Collection (Student Collection), unpublished data.