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

Please consider the environment before printing the contents of this report.

This report is available as a download (please refer to the 'Downloads' inset box).  To view the individual chapters please refer to the 'Sections' inset box.  For links to related publications/ information that may be of interest please refer to the 'Where to Find Out More' inset box.

Section 1: Introduction

Tertiary education is key to the country's cultural, social and economic well-being and its future. It is associated with improved economic and social outcomes. Nearly 700,000 New Zealanders participated in formal tertiary education in 2009, including industry training. The Government spends around $4 billion a year in operating expenditure on tertiary education, including research funding and financial support for students. This represents about 2 percent of New Zealand's gross domestic product.

2010 monitoring report

This report provides baseline data to monitor progress against the 2010-15 Tertiary Education Strategy. Future annual monitoring reports will look at progress against the strategy. The information in these reports will:

  • inform Ministers of the overall progress being made against the Strategy
  • provide system-level, contextual information to inform ongoing policy and planning by the Ministry of Education, the Tertiary Education Commission and other government agencies
  • provide context for the monitoring of the tertiary education Crown Entities (Tertiary Education Commission, New Zealand Qualifications Authority and Career Services)
  • provide alerts to any possible need to reconsider the policy mix
  • feed into developing future priorities and strategy
  • inform broader public debate about the direction of the tertiary education system.

The report is framed around the seven priority areas of the strategy outlined below. Each section discusses key indicators relating to the priority and includes a summary of key points.

The sections identify key challenges to achieving the priorities over the next two to three years. These challenges are overall messages for the tertiary education system. They are deliberately not referenced to specific parts of the system. Responsibility for addressing these challenges is shared between government agencies and tertiary education organisations. The actions they plan to take in response to the strategy are set out in their accountability documents.

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

The 2010-15 Tertiary Education Strategy

The Tertiary Education Strategy describes the Government's strategic direction for tertiary education over the next five to 10 years. It outlines the Government's priorities over the next investment plan cycle, starting in 2011. The strategy guides the Tertiary Education Commission's investment decisions in order to maximise tertiary education's contribution to New Zealand within the constraints of  the available funding.

The 2010-15 strategy sets out the Government's vision for a "world-leading education system that equips all New Zealanders with the knowledge, skills and values to be successful citizens in the 21st century." To achieve this vision, the Government expects the tertiary education system to:

  • provide New Zealanders of all backgrounds with opportunities to gain world-class skills and knowledge
  • raise the skills and knowledge of the current and future workforce to meet labour market demand and social needs
  • produce high-quality research to build New Zealand's knowledge base, respond to the needs of the economy and address environmental and social changes
  • enable Māori to enjoy education success as Māori.

The strategy sets out the priorities for the tertiary education system over the next three to five years, of:

  • increasing the number of young people moving successfully from school into tertiary education
  • increasing the number of young people (aged under 25) achieving qualifications at level four and above, particularly degrees
  • increasing the number of Māori students enjoying success at higher levels
  • increasing the number of Pasifika students achieving at higher levels
  • improving literacy, language and numeracy skills outcomes from levels one to three study
  • strengthening research outcomes
  • improving educational and financial performance of providers.

The strategy acknowledges that these priorities will need to be achieved within a tight fiscal environment, where the Government is unable to provide significant funding increases. Achievement of the priorities will require moving funding away from lower-quality qualifications, with poorer outcomes, to fund growth in high-quality qualifications that benefit New Zealanders and contribute to the nation's economic growth.

The Tertiary Education Strategy takes account of Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success, Māori Education Strategy 2008-2012. Ka Hikitia has a focus on enabling Māori students to enjoy education success as Māori through realising Māori potential, cultural advantage and inherent capability.

The Tertiary Education Strategy also takes account of the Pasifika Education Plan 2009-2012. The Plan focuses on enabling Pasifika people, and in particular young Pasifika students, to participate and attain higher levels of tertiary education.

Monitoring the strategy

The purpose of monitoring the strategy is to provide ongoing and timely information to the Government and government agencies on the progress of the tertiary education system against the strategy. Monitoring helps to make sense of the extent to which the intended changes are happening and to what degree. The monitoring reports are published annually.

The strategy identifies indicators for assessing progress and success. These are balanced with other information to provide a fuller picture of change across the system. A narrow focus on indicators could easily miss the 'real' story. The system may be 'scoring' well on a whole range of indicators but not making the substantive shifts indicated by the strategy – or the other way around. The challenge of monitoring, therefore, is to highlight the overall messages, not just report on indicators.

Monitoring can only provide a partial and selective view of change across a system as complex and dynamic as tertiary education. Therefore, the results need to be considered alongside other information, such as research results and expert advice.

Further Information

This report complements two other annual reports on the tertiary education system:

  • Profile and Trends: New Zealand's tertiary education system provides a summary of information on the performance and key characteristics of the New Zealand tertiary education system.
  • Outputs and outcomes of the Government's tertiary education expenditure is a new series of annual reports which describe the inputs, outputs and outcomes of the Government's spending on tertiary education.

The Ministry also provides an annual report to Parliament on the Student Loans Scheme, in conjunction with Inland Revenue and the Ministry of Social Development.

Links to the above reports can be found in the 'Downloads/Links' inset, box top right.