Masters figures highlight the degree of difference

See The Good Universities Guide to MBA's for a full listing of MBA details.

THERE are big differences between salary and employment rates for graduates of business-related Masters courses in WA, according to survey results released exclusively to Business News.

The soon-to-be-published Good Universities Guide to Business and Management in 2002 shows all of Edith Cowan University’s Masters students in business courses found work within four months of graduating. This compares with Curtin University Business School’s results, where just more than three quarters of Masters graduates found employment in the same period.

Murdoch University’s figure was 88 per cent, while 99 per cent of University of WA’s graduates had found work.

Notre Dame University was not included in the data because of its small student base compared with other universities.

The figures reflect Masters courses, including MBAs, completed in 1999 at four WA universities – but universities contacted about expressed doubt about some of the results.

A Good University Guide spokesman said the figures were supplied by the universities themselves but the proportion of respondents to actual graduates varied between institutions, with Curtin students among the lowest response rates.

He said he wouldn’t be surprised if the data collected next year showed 9 per cent were seeking work, but he would be alarmed if it jumped up to 24 per cent.

Edith Cowan University professor of management Alan Brown also discounted the numbers.

“You need to take them with a grain of salt,” he said.

The Good University Guide data also confirmed that the starting salary for UWA graduate school of management graduates completing a part-time course Masters was almost $20,000 higher than graduates from Murdoch.

Part-time UWA students who have completed a course work program started on an average of $82,418 a year, while Murdoch graduates earned $62,893 and Curtin graduates took home $64,727 in their first year after graduation. No data was available for Edith Cowan University for 1999 but 1998 data reveals a salary of $51,440 a year.

Starting salaries for Murdoch and Curtin graduates fell between 1998-99. Murdoch students’ starting salaries fell by about $16,000 from 1998 to 1999. Curtin graduates’ starting salaries fell by approximately $3,000 in 1999.

The fall experienced by Murdoch graduates may be attributed to the increase in the percentage of students from the public and education sector. In 1999, 35 per cent of graduates were in the public sector, compared with only 7 per cent a year earlier. A further 21 per cent were in the education sector compared with none the previous year.

Due for release in mid-September, the 2002 Guide shows the Curtin figure also compares unfavourably with the previous year, when only 12 per cent were seeking a job four months after graduating with a Curtin Business School Masters.

Curtin University Business School director Margaret Nowak expressed concern at the figures, which she said did not reflect her experience of students’ success in their job searches.

“I haven’t seen the figures. It would depend on what you can draw from the figures,” Ms Nowak said.

“I find that an extraordinarily high figure given what I know about my students. Statistics can tell a thousand lies if you are not very careful about how you deal with them.

“I would be graduating 120-150 students a year and I couldn’t possibly find you more than about four or five names of people who would be out of a job even one week after graduating.

“The figure of 24 per cent is 24 out of each 100 and that should be noticeable.

“It makes me say I don’t know where that figure would come from.”

UWA Graduate School of Management director Geoff Soutar said that the figures jumped around a bit.

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