Profile & Trends 2009: New Zealand's Tertiary Education Sector

Publication Details

This is edition 12 in an annual series on the tertiary education sector. Key findings from the 2009 report are:

  • 469,000 students were enrolled in formal study programmes in 2009, including 43,500 international students. There were 202,000 industry trainees in 2009.
  • Young tertiary students are studying at a more advanced level. More than three out of four young tertiary students are now studying level 4 qualifications and above.
  • International tertiary student numbers increased by more than 9 percent in 2009. In 2010, international enrolments are expected to increase by about 8 percent, while domestic enrolments are expected to increase slightly.
Short articles on the following topics are included in Profile & Trends 2009: Participation in post-compulsory education following decreases in New Zealand’s economic activity, What do students earn after their tertiary education, Raising the literacy, language and numeracy of the adult population, Progression to, and success in, bachelors-level study, Adults in non-formal and formal learning, and Students who had a disability

Author(s): Tertiary Sector Performance Analysis and Reporting, Ministry of Education

Date Published: August 2010

Bachelors and postgraduate qualifications

In 2009, enrolments in bachelors degrees and graduate certificates and diplomas represented 42 percent of all equivalent full-time student units in provider-based tertiary education. Those in postgraduate qualifications accounted for 11 percent.

The number of students enrolled in bachelors and postgraduate qualifications increased substantially from 2008 to 2009. An increase in enrolments by 20 to 24 year-olds was the largest contributor to the latest increase. Enrolments also increased for all other age groups, except students under 18 years of age.

When these enrolments are converted into equivalent full-time student units, the latest increase was slightly higher, indicating that the average study load has risen.

While the continuation of the weak labour market encouraged more young people to stay on at school in 2009, 7,000 more domestic students enrolled in bachelors degrees in 2009 than in 2008. There was also a substantial increase in domestic enrolments in bachelors degrees with honours and postgraduate diplomas and certificates. The largest increase in study load, in terms of equivalent full-time student units, occurred for domestic students undertaking graduate diplomas and certificates.

For international students, the number of enrolments in bachelors and higher qualifications also increased from 2008 to 2009. International bachelors-degree enrolments declined slightly from 2008 to 2009. This was, however, the only qualification level with fewer international enrolments in 2009. The number of international doctoral students has grown strongly since 2006. The year-on-year percentage increases in doctoral degrees are driven by the policy of funding international doctoral students on the same basis as domestic students – thus reducing the fees these students pay.

All provider types had increases in the number of domestic enrolments, with wānanga and private training establishments showing the greatest percentage increases. Increases at the universities and polytechnics were lower in percentage terms, and this probably reflects the impact of student enrolment caps.

There were larger increases in domestic enrolments in bachelors and higher qualifications by Māori, Pasifika and Asian students, compared with Europeans. The Māori and Pasifika populations have relatively greater numbers of younger people moving from school to tertiary education. At the same time, the weaker labour market led to higher unemployment rates for these ethnic groups.

Bachelors and postgraduate enrolments increased in all fields of study in 2009, particularly for education.

Figure 1.7: Participation in bachelors and higher-level qualifications by gender

Image of Figure 1.7: Participation in bachelors and higher-level qualifications by gender.