OECD Thematic Review of Tertiary Education 2004-2007 Publications
New Zealand is one of 24 countries participating in a thematic review of tertiary education being conducted over the period 2004-2007 by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Date Published: Last updated: 30 January 2007
Many OECD countries have recently experienced rapid growth in tertiary education. With increasing globalisation of the economy and labour markets, their tertiary education systems are facing new pressures. This led the OECD's Education Committee to request a major review of tertiary education. Twenty-four countries are participating in this review.
The overall goal of the OECD's thematic review is to examine how the organisation, management and delivery of tertiary education can help countries to achieve their economic and social objectives. In this context, the review examines the relationship between national policies for tertiary education and institutional behaviour. Equity, quality and sustainability are key concerns of the review. The focus of the review is primarily upon national policies for tertiary education systems, rather than upon policies and practices at the institutional level.
It is addressing the following questions:
- What are the economic and social objectives of the tertiary education system?
- How can countries make sure that their tertiary education system is economically sustainable, that it has an appropriate structure, that there are effective links between the component parts, and that adequate mechanisms exist to ensure its quality?
- How can adequate resources be mobilised for the tertiary education system?
- What mechanisms and policies at national level can ensure effective governance of the system as a whole?
The main output of the review is a comparative report that synthesises the data gathered during the review, that covers issues noted across the countries participating in the study and that draws policy lessons and develops options for reform.
The relevance of the review to New Zealand
It is important to understand how the New Zealand tertiary education system sits internationally. This review provides a rare opportunity to take a detailed, objective and specific view of the directions taken in New Zealand policy from an international perspective. That perspective can help shape New Zealand's longer term strategic thinking on the system and on its policies. Seeing New Zealand's work in an international context is particularly important, as, increasingly, policy makers are encouraged to view the sector as a contributor to broader national goals and as an agent of transformation in the economy and society.
The themes of this review are particularly appropriate for examination at this point in the context of New Zealand's tertiary education reforms. The government has sought to reposition the sector in alignment with national strategic priorities. It has indicated a desire for improved capability, including governance and management. It has explored ways of getting better value for its expenditure on tertiary education. It is attempting to achieve these shifts without imposing heavy central control or regulation. Thus, the policy instruments are light-handed and subtle and the transformation will take several years to be achieved.
There is a particular value at this time therefore, in an independent review of the settings that are intended to achieve these outcomes. There is also considerable value in seeing these settings in the light of others' experience.
In addition, participation in an independent assessment of this nature has been a crucial input into the evaluation of the Tertiary Education Strategy 2002/07 and into the creation of the strategy for the period 2008/12.
Process being undertaken
All countries participating in the review prepare a detailed country background report within a common framework. This report is intended to:
- provide a description of the national and international context of tertiary education
- describe the national tertiary education system; and
- provide an analysis of the key factors that are influencing tertiary education policy and an analysis of key policy concerns in a number of specific areas.
Thirteen of the participating countries – including New Zealand – are also given a more detailed review, undertaken by a team consisting of external experts. This team undertakes an intensive case study visit of the country and writes a country note report that describes the country's tertiary education system for the benefit of those from other countries, and makes suggestions for the future development of tertiary education policy in the country.
The review is also being enriched through research-based evidence coordinated by the OECD that will provide new perspectives and analyses on selected issues. This research-based evidence will be obtained from three sources:
- by research reviews specially written by OECD Secretariat staff for this review;
- by the synthesis of research undertaken elsewhere within the OECD; and
- by specially commissioned research papers commissioned to experts external to the OECD.
Throughout the review, meetings are being held at six-monthly intervals of representatives of all participating countries to share progress in the review and to thoroughly cross-examine selected policy issues.
The final OECD comparative report from the thematic review, bringing together lessons from all participating countries, will be published in early 2008. Participating countries will provide advice and feedback to the OECD as this analysis and drafting is undertaken.
Progress to date of New Zealand's participation
During 2005, the New Zealand country background report was prepared for the OECD by the Ministry of Education and overseen by a national advisory committee (made up of representatives from government agencies, provider groups, students' associations, and tertiary education staff unions).
In February 2006, an international expert panel visited New Zealand to undertake an extensive case study of the New Zealand tertiary education system. The panel visited eight tertiary education organisations and interviewed people from sector representative groups, government agencies, research organisations and students. The panel has prepared a country note setting out its findings and recommendations of the New Zealand tertiary education system. This report provides reflections on issues and policies concerning tertiary education policy in New Zealand and it also provides suggestions for tertiary policy development in New Zealand.
It is important to note that the report reflects the views of the expert panel undertaking the review in the context of an OECD project and that the views expressed in the report are those of the panel and not necessarily those of the OECD, New Zealand, or other OECD member countries.
New Zealand has also participated in three workshops and contributed feedback to OECD commissioned papers and the first structural drafts of the OECD's comparative analysis report. New Zealand's national co-ordinator was also a member of the expert panel that visited Iceland in September 2005 as part of the thematic review.
The latest report released: The New Zealand country note
The expert panel that visited New Zealand in February 2006 comprised:
- Laara Fitznor (Canada, University of Manitoba)
- Leo Goedegebuure (Netherlands/Australia, University of New England), rapporteur
- Paulo Santiago (OECD)
- Bjørn Stensaker (Norway, NIFU-STEP)
- Marianne van der Steen (Netherlands, Delft University of Technology)
The panel's country note on the New Zealand tertiary education system was released on 30 January 2007.
Overall, the expert panel have found many positive aspects in the New Zealand tertiary education system. They make no recommendations for radical change; rather they suggest ways to make the existing arrangements work better. They found the New Zealand system unique in scale, diversity, achievement and policy innovation - a system with a dynamic of its own but one that is well positioned for further development.
It is important to note that, while the expert panel were provided with material on the latest programme of tertiary reform initiated in the 4 April 2006 announcements, their findings and recommendations were based on the system as described in documentation prepared in 2005 and the system they viewed in February 2006. However, many of their comments and issues raised reinforce the changes developed in the current round of reforms. Many of their recommendations are well linked to that programme. In particular, the panel's findings include comments that support the investing in a plan proposals as well as current plans to strengthen quality and monitoring systems and to restructure funding for learning.
Next steps of the review
Once all participating countries' country notes have been finalised by early 2007, the OECD secretariat will compile a synthesis of the findings from all participating countries. The final comparative report from the thematic review, bringing together lessons from all participating countries, will be completed late-2007 and will be released in early 2008 at an international conference. This report will summarise the findings and evidence of the review and will indicate possible policy directions for participating countries. New Zealand will contribute to this process as required.
International review endorses tertiary policy direction: Press release Date: Jan-2007
- Press Release: International review endorses tertiary policy direction [PDF 40kB]
- Press Release: International review endorses tertiary policy direction [MS Word 52kB]
- Press Release: Background [PDF 103kB]
- Press Release: Background [MS Word 63kB]
Author: Ministry of Education
New Zealand Country Note Date: Jun-2007
Authors: Leo Goedegebuure, Paulo Santiago, Laara Fitnor, Bjorn Stensaker and Marianne van der Steen
A system in change: Post script to the international review Date: Oct-2004
Author: Tertiary Education Commission
New Zealand background country report Date: Jan-2006
- New Zealand background country report [PDF 616kB]
- New Zealand background country report [MS Word 1.32mB]
- Annexes: New Zealand background country report [PDF 835kB]
- Annexes: New Zealand background country report [MS Word 2.07mB]
Author: Ministry of Education
OECD thematic review of tertiary education:
Guidelines for country participation in the review Date: Jun-2004
- Guidelines for country participation in the review [PDF 103kB]
- Guidelines for country participation in the review [MS Word 197kB]