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Monitoring the tertiary education strategy

Publication Details

This is the first of a set of three reports looking at the implementation of the 2007-2012 Tertiary Education Strategy. This report provides a brief overview of the tertiary education sector as the strategy was being implemented and highlights key issues for achieving the strategy.

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

Date Published: July 2009

Monitoring 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 2007-12 tertiary education strategy

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. 

Monitoring the strategy

Monitoring the tertiary education strategy provides information to:

  • inform decisions about the priorities for future funding allocations across the tertiary education sector
  • provide the tertiary education organisations with a fuller, overall picture to inform their planning for the next funding round
  • provide information that that will help groups such as business and industry, Māori, iwi and Pasifika communities, to enter into discussions with tertiary education organisations on their needs and priorities.

This summary report is supported by two reports which provide more detailed information. One looks at cross-system indicators, which provide enduring measures of the overall health of the tertiary education system. The other provides more detailed information on the tertiary education system in relation to the three areas of expected contribution and the priority outcomes. Full references to data sources can be found in the supporting reports.

These monitoring reports focus on the tertiary education system as the second strategy was being implemented. The reports provide trend data to 2008 and include comment on the direction taken by tertiary education organisations in their 2008 to 2010 investment plans.

This summary report starts with an overview of initial engagement with the strategy by the tertiary education sector. Political and economic changes since the strategy was issued are discussed and areas for particular attention within the terms of the current strategy are noted.

Summaries of key indicators for Māori and Pasifika are then provided. These relate to the specific needs of each group highlighted in the strategy. The report then looks at each of the three areas of expected contribution of tertiary education. A brief outline of the situation with regard to the four priority outcomes is included in the related areas of expected contribution.

Each of the sections outlined above summarises the state of the tertiary education sector at the start of the strategy. This is followed by a summary of commitments made by tertiary education organisations in their 2008 to 2010 investment plans, which gives a sense of how the tertiary education sector is engaging with the strategy.
 

Related Pages on Education Counts

See Tertiary Education Strategy - Monitoring Reports publication home page.

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