High School Fees Don’t Equate To Higher Wages

Paying private school fees does not guarantee a better job after university, with new research showing there is no long-term employment advantage as public school graduates earn as much in equally prestigious occupations. Research fellow at Canberra University Jenny Chesters analysed data from the Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Project and found private school students were no more likely to get a full-time job than public school students.

“If a parent wants to pay to send their child to a private school, I don’t have a problem with that, but they should know that if they think paying for an education is an investment and you will get a monetary return on it, you probably won’t,” she said. Dr Chesters looked at the data for 2168 people aged 24 to 35 in 2012. About 70 percent went to government schools, 17 per cent to Catholic schools and 13.5 percent to independent schools. The data showed that public school students were not disadvantaged once it came to securing a well-paid job after university. Career development expert Martin Smith insists a person’s high school is a “very, very negligible part of the recruitment process”.

“Recruitment processes these days are much more sophisticated and much more objective than they may have been 20 years ago,” he said.

Once students are accepted into university, he said, the playing field is more or less level. “Students who have had to strive and struggle to get to university are often very motivated.”

Former Lilydale Heights College student Gary Dickson graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from La Trobe University and is now studying a Post Graduate Degree while also working as a researcher at University of Melbourne. He broadly agrees with the findings and believes he will have the same career opportunities to get a high-paying or prestigious job as someone who attended a private school. Sashi Balaraman, 27, attended Haileybury College and went on to study law and accounting at Monash University. He has since worked for a commercial law firm and in corporate finance. “I’ve never been asked what school I went to in a job interview,” he said.

“I’m comfortable saying that it’s quite possible if I went to a public school and I would be in the same position I am today,” he said. “Regardless of whether you’re at a state or private school, it’s whether you have that desire to succeed.

This Age article was first published on 17th August 2014 and was written by Alexandra Smith, Amy McNeilage, Tom Cowie. It was edited to shorten the text for our newsletter. The full article is available at http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/-104swb.html

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