IT graduates have seen their salaries and job prospects hold up in the face of the COVID-19 downturn, a survey claims.

The 2020 Graduate Outcomes Survey released on Monday reported graduates with Computing and Information Systems degrees had a median salary of $65,000 for 2020, up $1,000 from the year before.

The median wage for Australian graduates overall was $64,700, up from 62,600 in 2019 according to the survey which polled 122,530 graduates of 41 Australian universities and 9,250 graduates from 71 non-university higher education providers.

Topping the wages for new graduates were dentists, who reported a media salary of $84,000, although this fell from $88,200. Doctors, the second highest paying profession, narrowed the gap with their median income jumping $1,900 to $75,000.

Also breaking the $70,000 mark for new graduates in 2020 were teachers and social workers, while engineering salaries fell just short with a reported median of $69,500.

The lowest graduation salary was for pharmacists, who reported a median salary of $49,600 but also boasted the highest full-time employment rate of 96.4%.

In the job stakes, the survey found Computer and Information Systems students had a full-time employment rate of 72.1 per cent, down from 75.9 per cent the previous year, while overall employment, including those working part-time, ran at 81.3 per cent.

The performance of IT graduates came in behind those studying Engineering, who boasted an 87.6 per cent employment rate, and slightly less than Science and Mathematics grads who had an 81.7 per cent rate.

At the other end of the scale, were Creative Arts graduates with only 45.8 per cent in full time work, while Communications – one of the most popular degrees – recorded only 52.8 per cent, and Tourism, Hospitality, Personal Services, Sport and Recreation just 52.4 per cent.

Like most parts of the economy, COVID-19 hurt the graduate job market during the year, with employment rates dropping to 85.1 per cent from 86.8 per cent in 2019.

The gender gap was also on display in the survey with the median male graduate wage being $65,000 as opposed to female graduates weaker $63,400.

In the Computing and Information Systems sector, male graduates earned $65,200, just ahead of females who received $65,000.

Professions with the highest gaps between male and female salaries included Dentistry with a gap of $10,700; Law and paralegal studies $4,900; Business and management $3,400; Humanities, culture and social sciences $3,100; and Science and Mathematics $2,800.

Social Work and Engineering were the exceptions where female undergraduate median salaries are higher than or equal to their male counterparts.

Among the universities, graduates of Wagga’s Charles Sturt University were the most employable, with 84.7 per cent having full time jobs while the University of Southern Queensland’s graduates were the best paid with $70,700.

The report explained the success of these universities was largely due to them offering courses aimed at remote and mature students, saying they had “a larger number of graduates who studied externally, were older, studied part-time and maintained a continuing connection with the labour market while studying which explains, in part, why graduates from these universities may have reported higher salaries immediately upon graduation.”

Unfortunately, 28.1 per cent of undergraduates employed full-time reported their jobs didn’t allow them to fully use their skills or education, slightly down from 28.3 per cent in 2019, up from 27.1 per cent in 2018 and comparable to 28.2 per cent in 2017.

Overall, graduates were largely happy with their university experiences, with 80.7 per cent being satisfied with their education.

Some 74.2 per cent of Computing and Information System graduates said they were satisfied however only 58.1 per cent were happy with their teachers.

The report concluded “the variation in satisfaction across institutions and study areas indicates there is scope for improvement in the interactions between institutions and their students.”