According to the Australian Computer Society, university enrolments in ICT are less than half what they were a decade ago, and although there was a slight uptick last year they continue to decline as a percentage of the total student body. The ACS also claims that where 75,000 people achieved some form of VET or TAFE ICT qualification in 2000, that number had fallen to 46,000 by 2010.
Most of Australia's 39 universities offer some form of computing degree, although relatively few have schools or faculties of IT, offering ICT courses instead through schools of business, engineering or science.
At Monash University, which is one of the leading producers of ICT graduates - and the only University in the so called Group of Eight to have a dedicated IT faculty - enrolments in ICT in 2012 have been pretty steady according to Ron Weber, dean of the Faculty of IT.
Professor Weber attended an ADCICT meeting in Queensland earlier this month and said that although the removal of the student caps had 'not done very much at all' to encourage students to apply for IT courses, some universities had attempted to drum up business by lowering their ATARs 'with a view that they could get students in under the uncapped system.'
He acknowledged that departments may have 'been under instruction from their universities' to lower their entrance requirements. 'The downside is that if students need a lot of attention then the universities will need to provide them with more support.
'There could be students with a 50 ATAR that with the appropriate support could do extraordinarily well. But I suspect there will be issues surround their performance,' he added.
At Monash a university wide floor of 70-75 applies and no student with an ATAR lower than that is accepted onto any course. Prof Weber said that in 2012 the Bachelor of IT and Systems required an ATAR of at least 75, while the other three degrees required ATARs of between 82 and 85 which was similar to the 2011 requirements.
'Regarding enrolments, we had an overall decline of 19 per cent in our domestic undergraduate enrolments. This decline can be attributed primarily to a major "hiccup" with one of our degrees-namely, the Bachelor of Information Technology and Systems.
'We had to change the way we described the degree in the VTAC course guide, and we suspect students mistakenly concluded that some of our majors in this degree, some of which are very popular, were no longer being offered. Our domestic postgraduate enrolments are the same as last year.