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Bright Futures for Class of '08, Uni Places Offered 

By Kate Sikora
The Daily Telegraph -
Published: January 18, 2008 12:00am

AUSTRALIA'S skill shortage is believed to be behind a massive swing of up to 20 per cent towards engineering and nursing degrees.

As 59,894 university offers are made today, for the first time in 15 years the once high demand degree of engineering has recorded a sudden surge in popularity, thanks to a booming construction and mining industry.

University of Technology Sydney, the country's leading engineering institution, has made about 700 offers.

Other universities have also identified a renewed interest in the subject, where graduates can expect to earn more than $100,000 in their first year.

Experts believe the opportunity to travel and job flexibility has contributed to high school leavers reassessing their futures.

"There has been a gradual reduction of students coming into the course over the last 15 years," UTS Dean of Engineering Professor Archie Johnston said.

"The mining industry needs a lot of civil engineers and there's a lot of construction going on.

"Potential students read the papers and see there's opportunities."

All leading universities have reported an increase in offers this year, with Sydney University remaining the most popular institution.

Almost two thirds of students with a perfect University Admissions Index (UAI) score of 100 have chosen to study there.

Wollongong University has reached an all-time high in the number of offers it has made - 2749.

For the second in a year row, University of Western Sydney has seen an increase in nursing applications, recording a 25 per cent rise over the past two years.

Other areas which experienced a strong demand include arts, economics, policing and teaching.

UWS Vice Chancellor (learning and teaching) Professor Stuart Campbell said the news was good for the nation.

"Helping to meet some of Australia's health challenges looks to be a strong theme this year, with UWS making hundreds of offers . . . across health programs," he said.

"It's been a competitive market in 2008 due to high employment and the extra Commonwealth places injected into the system over the last few years.'

"It means students are the big winners, with increased chances of gaining a place into their preferred course."

First round offers have been made today but for those unlucky not to receive a place, they still have until January 31 to see if they received a late round offer.

One person who is unlikely to have missed out on her first preference is Ayushi Sahay, of Glenmore Park in Western Sydney.

The 19-year-old has applied to study a Bachelor of Engineering at the University of Western Sydney.

"It's a challenging job. The skills shortage has helped because we have a lot of opportunities," she said.

Also awaiting today's results is Amy Gates, 17, who is quietly confident she has been offered her first preference - a Bachelor of Nursing at University of Western Sydney.

"I am bit nervous. I went shopping to pass the time," she said.

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