The reason UniSA graduates are ‘highly ranked’ by employers


> Aged care placements prove a ‘helping hand’ for graduates and employer

UniSA leads South Australia in both graduate employment and graduate satisfaction in the federal education department’s most recent student experience and graduate outcome data.

The latest Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT) rankings also place UniSA in the top ten universities nationally for overall graduate employment.

The QILT rankings give prospective students information on Australian higher education institutions from the perspective of recent students and graduates.

Adelaide-based accounting firm Accodex Partners takes as many as four UniSA students each year on an industry placement.

Chris HooperAccodex chief executive officer Chris Hooper says the industry placement project, in which undergraduate students work in a company on a key project, is “one of the best work integrated learning programs in the country”.

“I find that UniSA students are more practically oriented,” Hooper says. “Work integrated learning is an important part of rounding out a student's experience.

“I benefited greatly from practical accounting experience during my undergraduate years and I wanted to contribute on an ongoing basis to my alma mater.

“I have found UniSA's ongoing connection to industry quite refreshing.”

Results from the Graduate Destinations Survey 2015 and Graduate Outcomes Survey 2016-17 ranked UniSA number one in South Australia for graduate careers in the following areas:

  • Social work

  • Psychology1

  • Business and management

  • Architecture and building2

  • Communication1

  • Creative arts1

  • Teaching1, and

  • Health services1.

More South Australians work in health care and social assistance than any other industry, employing almost 130,000 people according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Calvary Health Care provides placements for about 160 UniSA nursing and midwifery students each year, some of whom later go on to work for the organisation.

Calvary Wakefield Hospital chief executive officer Juanita Ielasi says the ideal graduate is eager to learn, highly motivated, can work independently and take direction, supervision and feedback.

“UniSA graduates are overall passionate and engaged learners, who can successfully adapt to different clinical environments and cultures while still putting theory into practice,” she says.

“Not only can they learn a specific skill set, but have the ability to think innovatively and question the perceived norms.”

After health and retail, education makes up South Australia’s third biggest employment sector.

Courtney HewettUniSA Bachelor of Education (Primary) graduate Courtney Hewett teaches Year 6 at the same school where she undertook her third-year placement – Brighton Primary School.

“That experience really helped me get this job,” Hewett says. “My mentor teacher really valued me as a pre-service teacher and asked me to stay in touch … and then I managed to get a contract teaching a Year 6/7 class.

“Developing a relationship when you are a preservice teacher is really important in terms of employability.”

Hewett says the classroom experience that begins from UniSA students’ first year of studies is also invaluable.

“I went to two schools in my first year and had the opportunity to work with two different year levels. I think this is great because after this experience a lot of people worked out whether teaching is for them,” she says. “Getting university students out into classrooms early is extremely important. When studying at UniSA you’re already planning (teaching) units and full days by your second year.

“I was really trusted and given ownership over the class.”

She says her experience since graduating in 2013 has been “really positive”, particularly during her time at Brighton Primary School, which has given her numerous professional development opportunities.

Principal Jacqui van RuitenNorwood Morialta High School employs a number of recent UniSA graduates each year. Principal Jacqui van Ruiten says she has always found UniSA graduates to be “passionate educators with good subject knowledge and organisational skills”.

“These graduates have consistently demonstrated confidence in their teaching and engaging students in authentic learning experiences,” van Ruiten says.

In The Good Universities Guide 2018, UniSA is the highest ranking South Australian university in the graduate outcome category of 'Full-Time Employment'. UniSA is also ranked among the top 10 institutions in Australia in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

UniSA Vice Chancellor Professor David Lloyd says the University has delivered on its promise to provide an enhanced educational offering and an outstanding student experience.

“The University is pleased that we continue to have high graduate employment outcomes but we don’t rest on our past achievements,” Prof Lloyd says.

“We’re very grateful to the many industry partners that collaborate with us to provide internships for our students, and inform our curriculum, to ensure our graduates are ready to move into their professional careers.

“These partners help us ensure we are best placed to give our students the valuable professional experience they need in addition to the academic knowledge.”

The Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching are funded by the federal Department of Education and Training.

Aged care placements prove a ‘helping hand’ for graduates and employer

UniSA graduate Georgia Perkins, who undertook a clinical placement at Helping Hand, talks about her employment with Helping Hand

Aged care service provider Helping Hand takes about 400 UniSA students on placements every year – not just health specialists but in areas including business, law and engineering.

Helping Hand director of research and development Megan Corlis says that although the majority of students they take are in “traditional areas” such as nursing, occupational therapy and podiatry, bringing in students from other fields to tackle specific projects is proving a win-win scenario.

“We had UniSA engineering students looking at our electricity costs, which are considerable, and then have business students verifying their work,” Corlis says. “Student placements are heavily embedded into the work that we do … students get real, industry experience.”

Corlis says the benefits of Helping Hand’s strong relationship with UniSA, formalised through an Enterprising Partnership, are mutual.

“One of the things students do for us is keep us contemporary – as a not-for-profit, it’s really hard for us to play on that innovation stage, but because of our strong relationship with both the Business School and Health Sciences, we’re able to get involved in research and then put it into practice,” Corlis says.

“As an aged care organisation the relationship has added to our ability to be more innovative and able to do whole lot of things that benefit older people.”

Helping Hand is one of South Australia’s biggest providers of home care services, retirement living and residential care homes, serving more than 4000 people in metropolitan and regional South Australia.

Helping Hand set up a pilot project involving UniSA exercise physiology students that was so successful, the organisation now employs three exercise physiologists, who work across Helping Hand’s eight residential sites, demonstrating the benefits of exercise to frail, older clients. The benefits of the program were proven through a UniSA evaluation which helped secure federal funding.

Helping Hand student participation manager Helen Loffler says the exercise physiologists work with residents on a “prescription for movement” that helps improve residents’ overall health and function.

“It’s really turning some of the work we do with students on placement and embedding it into practice,” Loffler says.

“UniSA also invites us as industry to talk to students about aged care specifics, so it’s very collaborative, and the work students do with us allows us to enhance the services we provide.

“The University is actively engaged with us and that’s what we can see in students – they’re coming here switched on about the industry and work-ready for aged care.”

Of the university graduates that Helping Hand employs, a significant number are UniSA graduates, and the majority of them have undertaken a placement with Helping Hand during their studies. Loffler says Helping Hand actively pursues graduates who undertook successful placements, when job opportunities arise.

“We are passionate about having students work with older people and it feels worthwhile to be able to provide those opportunities to students,” she says.

1 Applies to undergraduate only
2 Applies to postgraduate only (insufficient undergraduate numbers at other institutions for comparative purposes)