Facing the challenge: Tertiary Education Strategy monitoring 2010

Publication Details

This is the 2010 annual monitoring report for the Tertiary Education Strategy. It provides baseline data to monitor progress against the 2010-15 Strategy. The report is framed around the seven priority areas of the Strategy. Each section discusses key indicators relating to the priority, includes a summary of key points and identifies key challenges for achieving the goals of the Strategy.

The report is accompanied by a set of Cross-strategy Indicators that provide enduring measures of the overall health of the tertiary education system.

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

Date Published: December 2010

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This report is available as a download (please refer to the 'Downloads' inset box, top right). The "Where to Find Out More' inset box (right) has links to related publications/information that may be of interest.

From school to tertiary education

“The Government wants more young people engaged in and successfully completing tertiary education. Completing a vocational or professional qualification early in adult life has a higher return for both the individual and society. … Many young people (particularly those with lower school qualification levels) fail to successfully make the transition from schooling to tertiary education.”
(Tertiary Education Strategy 2010-15)

This priority focuses on increasing the number of young people moving successfully from school to tertiary education. It covers improving achievement at school, increasing the number of young people going from school to tertiary education, and improving the retention of young people in tertiary qualifications.

Key Points:
  • Students are staying longer at school and more are achieving higher qualifications.
  • The number and proportion going to degree level study is increasing.
  • The proportion going from school to vocational certificate or diploma study has remained steady.
  • Of those not going on to tertiary study, an increased proportion is not in employment.

Students staying longer at school

Students are staying longer at school. The figure below shows participation in school and tertiary education for each annual cohort of students from age 16. The first set of bars shows students aged 16 in 2006, aged 17 in 2007, aged 18 in 2008 and aged 19 in 2009. The next set of bars starts with those aged 16 in 2007, and so on.

The graph shows that with each successive cohort there is both a larger number and proportion of students staying at school at ages 16 and 17. However, this is not flowing through to a similarly large increase in tertiary study.

Figure 4: Progression of students from school to tertiary by year cohorts
Image of Figure 4: Progression of students from school to tertiary by year cohorts.

Increased school achievement

There has been an increase in the number of students achieving higher-level school qualifications. The number of students achieving a level 3 qualification at school by age 19 increased by 4,600 (30 percent) from 2006 to 2009. The number of students achieving university entrance increased by 4,200 students (28 percent). While there has been population growth in this age group, these increases are largely the result of an overall increase in school achievement, as shown in the graph below.

Figure 5: Highest NCEA qualification achieved for 19-year-olds
Image of Figure 5: Highest NCEA qualification achieved for 19-year- olds.

  1. Students without NQF results are excluded, such as those who left school before attempting NQF standards and those who only took alternative examinations.

More students going to certificates and degrees

Looking at the number of 18- to 19-year-olds starting in tertiary education reveals that the growth in tertiary enrolments has been in level 1 to 3 certificates and bachelors degrees.

For level 1 to 3 certificates, the growth is more recent and largely a result of population growth. At this level, there has been a shift away from industry training and targeted training to provider-based enrolments.

Growth at bachelors level has been evident for several years and has been the result of a combination of population growth and an increased proportion of young people going into degree study.

Figure 6: Number of 18 and 19-year-olds starting tertiary education by level
Image of Figure 6: Number of 18- and 19-year-olds starting tertiary education by level.

  1. Numbers include all provider-based education (including targeted training) as well as industry training.

There has been almost no overall growth in certificates and diplomas from level 4 to 7. Underlying these numbers is a shift towards provider-based enrolments in 2009. Industry training numbers decreased for this age group, while enrolments at polytechnics and private training establishments increased. This reflects fewer jobs being available for young people, which led to a drop in the number of people starting industry training.

The proportion of young people who are not in education or training is showing signs of increasing. Since 2008, there has been significant growth in the number of those neither employment nor education. In 2010, around 11 percent of young people were estimated to be in this group.

Figure 7: Proportion of 15 to 19-year-olds who are not in education or training
Image of Figure 7: Proportion of 15- to 19-year-olds who are not in education or training.

  1. Source: Statistics New Zealand, Household Labour Force Survey. (annual averages)

A key challenge for the tertiary education system is to develop quality vocational education pathways for young people, at a time when employment opportunities are reduced.