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Cross-strategy indicators: Tertiary Education Strategy Monitoring 2009

Publication Details

This is the second in a set of three reports looking at the implementation of the 2007-2012 Tertiary Education Strategy. This report provides a detailed view of the overall health of the tertiary education system, using a set of enduring indicators against which broader changes can be monitored.

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

Date Published: July 2009

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Chapter 1: The Tertiary Education Strategy

Tertiary education is a key strategic investment in the country’s cultural, social and economic well-being and future. Tertiary education is associated with improved economic and social outcomes. More than 630,000 New Zealanders participated in tertiary study in 2008, including industry training. The government spends over $4 billion a year on tertiary education, including research funding and financial support for students.

The Minister for Tertiary Education is required under the Education Act to issue a tertiary education strategy setting out the government’s long-term strategic direction for tertiary education, as well as its current and medium-term priorities. The Act requires the Tertiary Education Commission, the New Zealand Qualifications Authority and Career Services to have regard for the strategy in exercising their functions. In practice, the strategy sets out the framework for funding agreements with tertiary education organisations and provides a reference point for policy-making and relationships with the tertiary education sector.

The current strategy was issued in December 2006 and covers the period from 2007 to 2012. It includes the priorities for the 2008 to 2010 tertiary education organisation investment plans. It is the second strategy to be published. The first strategy took a broad and inclusive approach to cover the diversity of tertiary education. The second strategy continued that inclusive direction while sharpening the focus. The focus in the second strategy is much more explicitly on what the government expected of the tertiary education system and the priority outcomes for action.

Since the second strategy was issued, there has been a change of government. The government has announced it will issue a new tertiary education strategy by the end of 2009, which will guide the 2011-2013 funding period.

The 2007-12 strategy accompanied the progressive introduction of a new approach to planning, funding, quality assurance and monitoring in the tertiary education system. Funding of tertiary education was shifted from annual allocations based on student numbers to negotiated three-year investment plans. Quality assurance arrangements are being reviewed to create a greater focus on learner outcomes. A key focus was on developing a differentiated and complementary network of provision, with better connections with businesses, industry and communities with an interest in the outcomes of tertiary education.

The second strategy set out three areas in which the tertiary education system was expected to contribute to our society, namely:

  • Success for all New Zealanders through lifelong learning
  • Creating and applying knowledge to drive innovation
  • Strong connections between tertiary education organisations and the communities they serve.


These expected contributions were underpinned by attention to ‘distinctive contributions’, which recognised the key strengths and differences among different types of tertiary education organisations.


The strategy set out four priority outcomes where it was seen that there needed to be increased effort, and in some cases investment, in order to achieve a shift in the system. The priority outcomes were:

  • Increasing educational success for young New Zealanders – more achieving qualifications at level four and above by age 25
  • Increasing literacy, numeracy and language levels for the workforce
  • Increasing the achievement of advanced trade, technical and professional qualifications to meet regional and national industry needs
  • Improving research connections and linkages to create economic opportunities.

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