Research degree completion rates
What We Have Found
The doctoral degree completion rate per FTE academic staff member has doubled since 2000.
Date Updated: February 2013
Doctoral degree completion rate per 100 full-time equivalent (FTE) academic staff members.
Why This Is Important
The New Zealand Government, like other governments, has recognised the crucial role played by the innovation system in the development of a knowledge-based society and economy. It has also recognised the critical part played by the tertiary education sector in the innovation system.
The primary roles of tertiary education research activities are to:
- support degree-level teaching and ensure that degree graduates are of high quality and informed by up-to-date developments in the knowledge base
- train New Zealand's future knowledge-creators and innovators
- contribute to improving the knowledge base through high-quality research that generates new knowledge, and
- disseminate knowledge through technology transfer.
One traditionally important contribution of the universities to the national research effort is in the area of pure basic research, which involves exploring and expanding the frontiers of knowledge. The formal training of researchers is mainly carried out through postgraduate research degrees. The doctoral degree completion rate per FTE academic staff members, therefore, provides a proxy measure of the ability of universities in training researchers for the future.
How We Are Going
The ratio of doctoral degree graduates to FTE academic staff increased fairly steadily from 2000 to 2007. From 2008 onwards there has been a steeper yearly increase. This is in part due to a change in policy that treats new international doctoral students as domestic students paying domestic student fees, thus making studying in New Zealand a more attractive option. In 2011, there were 14.0 doctoral degree graduates per 100 FTE academic staff members in New Zealand universities. This is 2.2 times the 2000 rate of 6.5 graduates per 100 FTE academic staff members.
Between 2000 and 2011, the number of doctoral degree completions per 100 FTE academic staff members has increased for all New Zealand universities.
The University of Auckland, Victoria University of Wellington and Massey University experienced the biggest increases in the number of doctoral degree completions per 100 FTE academic staff members between 2000 and 2011, 192%, 152% and 142% respectively.
Between 2000 and 2011, the number of doctoral degree completions per 100 FTE academic staff members increased for all New Zealand universities except Victoria University of Wellington which dropped 16% from 16.7 to 14.1 per 100.
The number of doctoral degree completions increased from 456 in 2000 to 1099 in 2011. The five most common broad areas of study for doctoral degrees completed in 2011 were: Society and culture with 276 doctoral degree completions in this field (25%), Natural and physical sciences (24%), Health (15%), Engineering and Related Technologies (11%), Management and Commerce (9%).
- Ministry of Education (2012). New Zealand's Tertiary Education Sector Profile & Trends 2011: . Wellington: Ministry of Education.
Ministry of Education (2011). Tertiary Education Strategy 2010-2015 - A Framework for Monitoring. Wellington: Ministry of Education.
- Scott, D. (2008). A Closer Look at Completion in Higher Education in New Zealand. Wellington: Ministry of Education.