How does New Zealand's education system compare? OECD's Education at a Glance 2010

Publication Details

This series "How does New Zealand's education system compare?" draws on the New Zealand results in OECD's Education at a Glance 2008 and summarises the characteristics and performance of New Zealand's education system in an international context. This year's report mostly relates to education in 2008.

Author(s): David Scott and Paul Gini, Ministry of Education.

Date Published: September 2010

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This report is available as a download (please refer to the 'Downloads' inset box).  To view the individual chapters please refer to the 'Sections' inset box.  For links to related publications/ information that may be of interest please refer to the 'Where to Find Out More' inset box.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Every year, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) publishes Education at a Glance, a set of indicators that compares the education systems of its 31 member countries, and eight participating partner countries. These indicators give us a good opportunity to view the characteristics and performance of our system by comparing against the systems of other countries.  Despite some limitations, the Education at a Glance indicators "reflect a consensus among professionals on how to measure the current state of education internationally", and probably give us the most reliable and most complete basis for comparison currently available.

Education at a Glance 2010 (EAG 2010) covers 26 indicators and comprises over 150 country comparison tables. While traditional indicators on levels of population attainment, participation, spending and post-study employment and earnings are included, this year's edition includes new indicators covering labour costs and adults in non-formal learning, and new information for New Zealand on youth transitions and social outcomes of education. It also includes trend data on attainment, employment, earnings and returns, using re-based data from New Zealand's Household Labour Force Survey.

Most of these indicators are based on data for the year 2008. For New Zealand, this reflects a period before the effects of the current economic recession had largely begun to be felt in terms of reduced employment and earnings and increased demand for education. These effects are likely to be felt sooner and more significantly by those with lower qualifications, and by younger adults. A special section in EAG 2010 (pages 342-3) discusses the impact of the recession on youth.

EAG uses the International Standard Classification of Education (or ISCED 97) as a common basis for classifying and comparing educational levels. Readers should note that under ISCED, "upper-secondary-educated" or "adults with an upper-secondary education" refers to those with at least a year 12-equivalent school qualification. Those with a year 11-equivalent qualification, such as NCEA 1 or school certificate, are counted as "below upper secondary" in these OECD comparisons. Obtaining a qualification after one year of upper secondary is less common in other OECD countries.

Readers should also note that when OECD uses the term "tertiary-educated", under ISCED this refers to those with a diploma or higher. In some tables, these are categorised further into "Type B", "Type A" and "advanced research programmes", which are equivalent to doctorates. However, this report tends to use New Zealand-used terms when referring to these levels in preference to those used in EAG. Therefore "diploma" is used in place of ISCED level 5B, or Type B education, and "degree" is used in place of ISECD 5A or Type A education. These terms may not be relevant or equivalent in other countries.

Post-secondary certificates at level 4 on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework are not counted as "tertiary education" under ISCED and are grouped under a level called "post-secondary non-tertiary". Post-secondary certificates below level 4 are grouped with "upper-secondary" level education.

Sources and further information
All information in this report is sourced directly from EAG 2010. Reference to the specific chapters and tables used from the  Education at a Glance 2010: OECD Indicators publication is included at the end of each chapter. (All tables and graphs in this year's edition of EAG, as well as for past editions, are also available on the OECD website.)

Contact Us

For queries about Education at a Glance and INES contact:

David Scott
Manager, OECD Indicators of Education
Evidence, Data & Knowledge 
Ministry of Education
P O Box 1666
Wellington 6140

Phone:  +64 4 463 8052
Email:    Information Officer Mailbox