Students not motivated by large salaries

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 12:00 04/06/2014

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Money doesn't talk for Manawatu students, with the promise of bulky pay packets post-study not swaying undergraduates towards certain degrees.

A recently released Ministry of Education report laid out how much graduates in different fields of study can expect to earn after completing college. The median earnings for graduates entering the workforce were more than $45,000 in health and about $29,000 in creative arts.

The Government says the statistics shows school leavers the benefits of sticking with subjects such as science and maths.

But Palmerston North's student union leaders say although tertiary education is the ticket to success, it doesn't all boil down to big personal incomes.

The report found that income amounts varied by field of study, but earnings and employability levels went up and stayed up when higher levels of qualifications were achieved.

The top choices in terms of median earnings for graduates five years after leaving study were medical studies, collecting $110,324 a year, pharmacy at $72,963 and radiography at $70,413.

At the other end, graduates in performing arts brought in median earnings of $37,229 five years after leaving study, visual arts $41,442 and tourism $44,300.

Third-year radiography student Anna Greville is due to finish a Bachelor of Applied Science in Medical Imaging Technology through UCOL this year and plans to undertake further study.

Making money was never a motivator when choosing a career path but rather the ability to help people, she said. "I never really thought about how much we'd get paid . . . but it's nice to know that we are going to get rewarded for all the hard work we put in."

Association of Students at UCOL (AS@U) president Miranda Orpin said pay didn't change students' educational choices, except to encourage further education.

"There is a rising idea that if it doesn't make you happy, it's not worth it, no matter the financial gain," she said. "People study what they are interested in and funnel that into a job, where possible.

"For the most part, passion is key . . . and money is just one aspect of a huge and varied decision about what to study. Money does not equal fulfilment and most youth know that."

Massey University Students' Association president Linsey Higgins said people recognised the value in higher-level qualifications on employability and earnings, but there was more to it than wages.

She said there was a perception certain degrees led to more career opportunities, but if undergraduates were willing to work and realistic about pay, earning outcomes were relative. "If people want to earn the big bucks there are jobs out there, but students have to think strategically about what they want to do."

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- Manawatu Standard

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