3. Tertiary Education

Summary

What We Have Found

In 2014, 34,800 domestic Pasifika students were enrolled in tertiary-level courses (9.6% of all students). This compared with 29,800 in 2008. Over the period from 2008 to 2014, the number of Pasifika students enrolled in qualifications at bachelors level or higher increased by 49 percent from 8,940 in 2008 to 13,300 in 2014.

For the target age group of 18-to-24-year-olds, the participation rate of domestic Pasifika students in tertiary qualifications at level 4 or above has increased by 6.5 percentage points, from 21.9% in 2008 to 28.4% in 2014. The comparable participation rates for all students aged 18 to 24 years were 30.9% in 2008 and 31.2% in 2014.

Of the domestic Pasifika students aged 18 to 24 years who had enrolled in a qualification at level 4 or above in 2013, 78.3% were still studying in 2014. This is 4.8 percentage points lower than the comparable retention rate for all students studying at level 4 or above of 83.1%.

The five-year completion rate of full-time domestic Pasifika students who completed a qualification at level 4 or above by 2014 was 67.4% (up from 64.9% the previous year). The gap between Pasifika and all students has narrowed from 12.3 percentage points for students starting study in 2005, to 6.9 percentage points in for students starting study in 2010. Over the period from 2008 to 2014, the number of Pasifika students gaining a tertiary qualification increased by 75 percent, from 7,400 in 2008 to 12,900 in 2014.  Over the same period, 68 percent more Pasifika students completed a bachelors degree; up from 975 in 2008 to 1,640 in 2014.

What we are trying to achieve

The focus is on enabling Pasifika learners in tertiary education through increasing participation, retention and completion of higher-level tertiary qualifications. To achieve this, the following three goals have been set:

  1. Pasifika people are a highly educated workforce that fully contributes to New Zealand's economy and society.
  2. Use research and evidence effectively to achieve the goals of the Pasifika Education Plan.
  3. Pasifika learners participate and achieve at all levels at least on a par with other learners in tertiary education.

Target

As a means of measuring progress against the aforementioned goals, the following target has been set:

  • „ Pasifika learners participate and achieve at all levels on a par with other learners in tertiary education.

Why this is important

An important step to build on schooling success for young New Zealanders is to increase their participation and retention in tertiary education. Through increased participation and retention, Pasifika learners will attain higher levels of education.

The issue of retention is complicated by the number of Pasifika learners switching courses meaning they are participating but not progressing and achieving.The Ministry has seen improvements in both the participation rates and first-year retention rates for 18-24-year-old students in level 4 and above, however, it will take another three to four years for the improvements in retention rates to show through as improvements in the five-year completion rate.

How We Are Going

Participation rates of Pasifika people aged 18 to 24 years in level 4 qualifications and above

The target for the Pasifika ethnic group is to reach participation rate in level 4 qualifications and higher that is on par with non-Pasifika students. The participation rate of young Pasifika students has increased in recent years.

The proportion of Pasifika people aged 18 to 24 years in level 4 qualifications and above was 28.4% in 2014, a slight decrease of 0.4 percentage points since 2013, but as can be seen in figure 3.1, the overall trend since 2001 is an increase in the participation rates of Pasifika people.

The gap between Pasifika and average participation rates is narrowing and it has halved in size from 7.5 percentage points in 2010 to 2.9 percentage points in 2014.

Figure 3.1: Percentage of Pasifika and non-Pasifika people aged 18 to 24 years participating in tertiary qualifications at level 4 and above (2001-2014)

Note: Total response ethnicity is used in this measure, for more information see technical notes in appendix 2.

First-year retention rate for Pasifika students aged 18 to 24 years in level 4 qualifications and above

In 2014, the first year retention rate of Pasifika students aged 18 to 24 years reached 78.3%. The gap between the Pasifika and the total retention rate has reduced from 9.5 percentage points for students starting study in 2007 to 4.8 percentage points for students starting study in 2014.

In the past few years the retention rate for many students has increased. Based on the trend since 2010, the difference in the retention rate between Pasifika students and the New Zealand total appears to have stabilised.

Without further intervention, the retention rate for 18  to 24 year old Pasifika students in level four  and higher qualifications does not seem likely to become on par with that of all students in 2017.

Figure 3.2:  Percentage of students aged 18 to 24 years retained in study at level 4 and higher one year after starting study (2006-2013)

Note: Total response ethnicity is used in this measure, for more information see technical notes in appendix 2.

Five-year qualification completion rate of Pasifika students in full-time study at level 4 and above

In 2014, 67.4% of full-time Pasifika students had completed a qualification within five years of starting study.  This was 12.4 percentage points higher than for students who started study five years earlier.

Pasifika tertiary students have a lower qualification completion rate, at 67.4%, than the New Zealand total of 74.3%. However, this difference in the five-year qualification completion rate of full-time students has narrowed in recent years. The 2014 results show a further narrowing of the gap.The five-year qualification completion rate continues to rise at a faster rate for Pasifika students than for all students. While Pasifika students have made significant progress in recent years, further intervention is still required to reach parity in 2017.

Figure 3.3: Five-year completion rates for full-time students at level 4 and above (2003-2010)

Note: Total response ethnicity is used in this measure, for more information see technical notes in appendix 2.