School Leaver Destinations

Why This Is Important

Each year, around 60,000 students are leaving the schooling system and moving on to further education, work place training or employment. This indicator follows the pathways of domestic school leavers into tertiary education.

The tertiary education sector is a diverse sector.  Its scope ranges from informal non-assessed community courses in schools through to formal undergraduate degrees and advanced research-based postgraduate degrees. It provides pathways for a diverse range of learners, from school leavers to workers, the unemployed to students from overseas, and to those pursuing an interest, hobby or more social interaction.

Enrolments in tertiary education are indicators of the extent to which New Zealanders are developing the skills needed for a modern knowledge economy.  To achieve this goal, clear pathways to assist young people making the direct transition from school to tertiary level study must be developed and maintained.


Percentage of school leavers by tertiary destination


Numerator: (Data Source: Ministry of Education)


The total number of school leavers enrolled in formal provider-based study, industry training, Modern Apprenticeships and targeted training programmes within three years of leaving school.

Denominator: (Data Source: Ministry of Education)


The total number of domestic school leavers in a given year.

Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria for School Leavers

School leavers are students that permanently left school to enter the workforce and/or undertake further education and training outside of the compulsory schooling system from 1 March for given year to the last day of February the following year (inclusive). School leavers are identified using ENROL. Students counted as school leavers are:

  • Domestic students who were aged less than 19 in their first enrolment in ENROL; including alternative education students, students 16 or over on 1 March for given year and students attending teen parent units.
  • Students with leave reason ‘end of schooling’ or ‘early leaving exemption’
  • Students with leave reason ‘transferred to another school in New Zealand’ or ‘transferred to home schooling’ but did not reenrol in another school according to ENROL
  • Students with leave reason ‘gone overseas permanently’, who meet the age criteria

This excludes:

  • Returning adult students (aged 19 or more) with a year gap in their attendance
  • Exchange and International fee-paying students
  • Students who successfully transferred to another school in New Zealand or to home schooling
  • Deceased students

Alternative education students are counted with the school that enrolled them in alternative education, this may not be the school that manages their enrolment while they are in alternative education. This is to reflect that the enrolling school is responsible for ensuring the students’ education needs are met.

School leavers are counted under the last school they attended for at least 70 days. If they did not attend a school for 70 days within the school leaver year, then they are included under a ‘transitory leaver’ group.

Interpretation Issues

The indicator is constructed from a matched database of school enrolment records, student achievement data from the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) and tertiary enrolments in formal provider-based study, industry training and targeted training programmes.

A student is considered to progress directly from school to tertiary if they enrol in tertiary in the same year or the year after their last year at school.

Tertiary information is based on tertiary enrolments in formal provider-based study, industry training and targeted training programmes.

Data excludes those Private Training Establishments (PTEs) which neither received tuition subsidies/targeted training funding nor were approved for student loans or allowances.

The highest tertiary qualification level a student is enrolled in is used. If the student has enrolled in two different qualification levels the highest is taken.

Total Response Ethnicity

Total response ethnicity is when people who have been identified in more than one ethnic group have been counted in each ethnic group.  For the New Zealand total, individuals are counted only once. Total response ethnicity has been used for all ethnic group analysis in this indicator.

For this indicator European/Pākehā refers to people who affiliate as New Zealand European, Other European or European (not further defined).  For example, this includes and is not limited to people who consider themselves as Australian (excluding Australian Aborigines), British and Irish, American, Spanish, and Ukrainian.