The “Higher Education Bubble” turns out to be an international problem.

We recently noted that college education has almost become “worthless“, inasmuch as degrees are now required for such low-skill jobs as file clerks. Our report came from the New York Times; however, Bernard Lane for The Australian reports that the same issue plagues his country:

Politicians and university chiefs in Australia are keen to sell the benefits of ever more degrees, but the labor market isn’t buying it, according to a study that shows large numbers of overeducated workers.

Economists Ian Li and Paul Miller found that almost 50 percent of surveyed graduates were doing jobs that did not demand their qualification.

“There’s a huge number of graduates who are going into jobs that don’t require a high level of education,” said Li, from the University of Western Australia.

The paper notes the uncapping of university places, as well as the spread of university degrees from only 3 percent of adults in 1971 to 24 percent in 2006.

“The labour market demand for skilled workers is not keeping up with the rapid expansion in higher education,” the authors write in their paper for the Australian Economic Review. Although the survey tracked graduates just four months after completion, an early mismatch of qualifications and employment tended to persist, Li said.

Graduates from the Innovative Research Universities group were more likely to be overeducated than those from the Group of Eight or the Australian Technology Network institutions.

However, the Li-Miller study found little difference between groups in the depressed earnings (about 11 per cent) associated with overeducation.

“This finding might come as a surprise, particularly given the dominance of the Group of Eight universities in quality rankings and the reliance of ‘graduate outcomes’ in the formulation of some of those rankings,” the paper said.

Across institutions, overeducation was more likely in four broad fields: natural and physical sciences, agriculture and environment, society and culture, and creative arts.