Research degree completion rates

Why this is important

The New Zealand government, like other governments, has recognised the role played by the innovation system in a knowledge-based society and economy.  It has also recognised the part played by the tertiary education sector in the innovation system.  The sector is an important producer of research and hence of new knowledge, producing more than 60 percent of New Zealand’s research outputs.  It also has the responsibility of training New Zealand’s researchers.

The primary roles of tertiary education research activities are to:

  • support degree-level teaching and ensure that degree graduates are of high quality and informed by up-to-date developments in the knowledge base
  • train New Zealand’s future knowledge creators and innovators
  • contribute to improving the knowledge base through high-quality research that generates new knowledge, and
  • disseminate knowledge through technology transfer.

The formal training of researchers is mainly carried out through postgraduate research degrees. The doctoral-degree completion rate per 100 full-time equivalent academic staff, therefore, provides a proxy measure of the intensity of universities in training researchers for the future.

Indicator

The number of doctoral degrees completed at universities per 100 full-time equivalent academic staff member.

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Numerator:

The number of people completing a doctoral degree at a university.

Denominator:

The number of full-time equivalent academic staff at universities (professsors, readers/associate professors, senior lecturers and lecturers).

(Data Source: Ministry of Education)

Interpretation Issues

The ratio calculated for this indicator is based on the number of doctoral-degree completions per 100 full-time equivalent academic staff member. Data is for the year ended December. The measure of academic staff used to generate ratio in this indicator comprises professors, associate professors, senior lecturers and lecturers.

From 2008 to 2014 there has been a steeper yearly increase in doctoral degree completions.  This is, in part, due to a change in policy that treats international doctoral students as domestic students since 2006.  Paying domestic student fees has made New Zealand a more attractive study option for international students.

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