Fewer West Australian teenagers are going to university, with year 12 completion rates dropping to the lowest levels in 10 years, new data has revealed.
The new education figures, released by the Productivity Commission on Monday, also showed West Australians were among the least educated in the country, with around one in every 10 teens aged 15 to 19 at university in 2023, compared to one in every seven in New South Wales and Victoria.
Edith Cowan University School of Education Associate Professor Brad Gobby said the declining trend could suggest a growth in employment and training opportunities in the WA economy that young people were taking up.
He also said for many, focusing on finding employment or going into a trade or apprenticeship and leaving school early would be of more benefit than staying in school.
Gobby suggested academic achievement and retention rates for the least wealthy students were worsening, while for wealthy families retention had been increasing, further creating a social divide in the community.
“School systems should remain vigilant around retaining our most vulnerable students by providing an engaging curriculum they want to come to school for, and providing the resources and support they need to achieve at school,” he said.
“For most students, completing high school provides the benefit of higher income over their lifetime in comparison to early school leavers.”
According to the report, only half of school leavers aged between 15 and 24 were fully engaged in either education or work, a significant drop from nearly 78 per cent in 2022.