Extramural Students’ Participation and Achievement: Trends, Patterns and Highlights

Publication Details

This report presents a view of extramural (or distance education) students’ participation and achievement in tertiary education from 2004 to 2011. It compares participation and completion rates in courses provided extramurally with intramural courses. It also looks at the prevalence of e-learning in extramural courses and compares extramural courses that are delivered by e-learning methods with those that are delivered by paper-based methods.

Author(s): Peter Guiney, Tertiary Sector Performance Analysis, Ministry of Education.

Date Published: February 2014

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Key Findings

  • Relatively few students participated in extramural courses. The majority of extramural provision was delivered by e-learning. Extramural courses had lower completion rates than intramural courses. Among extramural courses, there were higher completion rates in paper-based courses than e-learning courses.  
  • Students who were older, female, Māori, studying part-time, and from caregiving or working backgrounds had higher levels of participation in extramural courses than other learners. Students who were younger, Asian, and studying full-time were the least likely to participate in extramural courses. 
  • Asians, women, and full-time students were more likely to complete their extramural courses than the other ethnic groups, men, and part-time students. As well, wānanga, students in the 40+ age group, and those from non-working backgrounds had a higher completion rate in extramural paper-based courses than intramural face-to-face courses.
  • Polytechnics had the largest share of extramural provision while private training establishments had the smallest. Wānanga had the largest proportion of their provision delivered extramurally, while universities had the smallest.
  • Women were more likely than men to be in extramural e-learning courses, and also more likely to be successful in extramural paper-based courses. 
  • The 40+ age group had the highest participation and completion rate in extramural courses and the under 25s age group had the lowest participation and course completion rate in extramural courses.
  • Part-time students had higher participation in extramural courses than full-time students. Full-time students had a higher completion rate in extramural courses than part-time students.

Where to find out more

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