CAREER CHANGE: Kelly Gabriel graduated from the University of Southern Queensland with a Bachelor of Engineering, majoring in civil engineering, with honours.
CAREER CHANGE: Kelly Gabriel graduated from the University of Southern Queensland with a Bachelor of Engineering, majoring in civil engineering, with honours.

This university produces highest starting salaries

A DECISION to head down a new path in life paid dividends for one recent university graduate.

Kelly Gabriel, 35, transferred to the University of Southern Queensland's Springfield campus to be closer to home and was attracted by the flexibility offered to take care of her first child.

The Springfield Lakes mother officially graduated with a bachelor of engineering majoring in civil engineering with honours earlier this year.

She completed her degree part-time over the course of about six years but believed the hard work and relentless study were worth for the career change.

Ms Gabriel worked as a nurse before she had her daughter but felt she had hit a wall.

Since finishing her degree in November, she has worked full-time as a civil engineer, working in flooding and drainage at engineering firm Aurecon.

"(I wanted to) follow my passion and my dreams," she said.

"I got to a stage where I thought I want to be doing something I want to be doing every day.

"I'm excited about the future and the career progression that's going to open up in front of me.

"I didn't see that (in nursing) and I didn't feel like I could keep getting challenged. With engineering, it will definitely keep me interested and challenged every day, which is what I like.

"I get to solve problems and I play with software and do lots of cool digital things. It's fantastic. I love it."

According to the 2020 Good Universities Guide, USQ graduates have the highest starting salary in Australia for the third consecutive year.

The guide, which uses quality indicators for learning and teaching data, found the median starting salary for USQ graduates was $65,200 - the joint highest in the country.

USQ's engineering programs topped the list, ranking number one in Australia for graduates in full-time employment and graduate starting salary.

The university was also number one in Queensland for student support and second in Australia for social equity.

The guide criteria is broken down into quality of educational experience, overall employment rates of graduates and the median salary of graduates from different universities across Australia.

USQ was awarded five-star ratings for starting salary, full-time employment, social equity and first-generation.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Geraldine Mackenzie said the results reflected the university's continued focus on high quality education and producing job-ready graduates.

"We have partnered with industry and listened to students and these results are reflective of this focus," Professor Mackenzie said.

"At USQ, we strive to create a learning environment that is exciting and innovative using the latest in digital learning technology and research.

"Our staff and students are the reason for these results and why USQ is a vibrant, stimulating and supportive place to work and study.

"We are committed to providing a quality education to all regardless of background.

"Our programs and practices are equitable and accessible which includes a number of pathways to access higher education."