School Leaver Destinations

What We Have Found

In 2018 there were 61,297 domestic school leavers. Of these, 59.7% (36,582 students) enrolled in tertiary education at all levels during 2019.

Date Updated: August 2020

Indicator Description

Tertiary education destinations of school leavers one year after leaving school.

How We Are Going

Of the 61,297 students who left school in 2018, 59.7% enrolled in tertiary education during 2019. This is down 1.5 percentage points from the 2017 leaver cohort. This continues a downward trend in the proportion of school leavers enrolling into tertiary education in the year after leaving school, since the 2013 leaver cohort (65.1%).  Declines are mainly due to reduction in enrolments in low level certificates at level 1 and 2, from 8.4% of 2013 leaver cohort to 4.1% of 2018 leaver cohort.

From 2017 to 2018 cohort the proportion enrolled at bachelors and above decreased by 0.3 percentage points from 32.2% of 2017 school leavers to 31.9% of 2018 school leavers. The proportion enrolled at Level 3 to 7 certificates and diplomas (24.3% to 23.7%) and enrolled in Level 1 and 2 certificates (4.7% to 4.1%) each deceased 0.6 percentage points.

Figure 1: Proportion of school leavers in tertiary education one year after leaving school by school leaving year and tertiary education level1 (2013-2018)

Some students have a gap of more than a year between leaving school and enrolling in tertiary education. The following examines the proportions of leavers who enrol for the first time up to three years after leaving school.

From the 2016 leaver cohort, 61.6% enrolled in the year after leaving school (direct transition), 9.3% enrolled for the first time two years after leaving school, 3.9% enrolled for the first time three years after leaving school and 25.1% had no enrolment in a tertiary course within three years of leaving.

In comparing leaver cohorts from 2011 to 2016, there was an overall increase in the proportion of direct transition to tertiary education in the year after leaving school from 63.1% of 2011 cohort to 65% of 2014 cohort, followed by decreases for the 2015 (63.9%) and 2016 leaver cohorts (61.6%). Over the same period, the proportion of leavers enrolling in tertiary education for the first time two (around 9.0%) and three years (around 4.0%) after leaving school has been stable.

Figure 2: Percentage of school leavers starting tertiary education by school leaving year and the number of years after leaving school (2011-2016)

Gender

Female school leavers are more likely to progress to tertiary education in the year after leaving school than male school leavers. In 2019, 61.5% of females from the 2018 leaver cohort were enrolled in tertiary education compared to 57.9% of males. These proportions are lower than the 2017 leaver cohort where 63.6% of female and 58.9% of male school leavers progressed directly to tertiary education.

Females are more likely to enrol in bachelors and above qualifications with 37.1% of 2018 leavers doing so in 2019, compared with 26.9% of males.

Figure 3: Proportion of school leavers in tertiary education one year after leaving school by school leaving year and gender (2014-2018)

Ethnicity2

In 2019 76.1% of Asian school leavers from the 2018 cohort enrolled in tertiary education in 2019. This was 14.2 percentage points higher than for European/Pākehā school leaves (61.9%). The equivalent measure for Pacific leavers was 49.9% and for Māori leavers was 47.9%.

For 2018 school leaver cohort, there was an overall decrease in the proportion of leavers enrolling in tertiary education compared with the 2017 school leaver cohort. The largest decrease was for Asian leavers, down 2.4 percentage points, followed by Māori leavers with a decrease of 1.9 percentage points, Pacific with a 1.7 percentage point decrease, and European/Pākehā had the smallest decrease of 1.2 percentage points.

Since 2014, all ethnic groups have seen a decrease in enrolments in tertiary education, especially for Pacific school leavers which decreased 8.8 percentage points between the 2014 leaver cohort and the 2018 leaver cohort. Tertiary enrolments for Māori school leavers decreased 5.7 percentage points between the 2104 cohort and the 2018 cohort, followed by European/Pākehā (4.5 percentage points) and Asian (4.1 percentage points) over the same period.

Figure 4: Percentage of school leavers in tertiary education one year after leaving school by school leaving year and ethnicity (2011-2018)

Māori and Pacific school leavers are more likely to be enrolled in foundation courses, certificates and diplomas than other ethnic groups. From the 2018 school leaver cohort, 33.7% of Māori and 30.0% of Pacific enrolled in tertiary education Level 1-7 (non-degree courses) during 2019.

Figure 5: Percentage of 2018 school leavers in tertiary education one year after leaving school by ethnicity and tertiary education level

Māori Medium Education

In the 2018 school leaver cohort, 47.9% of Māori students from Māori Medium Education (MME) enrolled in tertiary education during 2019, down 2.8 percentage points compared to 2017 cohort. The rate for Māori school leavers from English Medium Education (EME) was down 1.8 percentage points to 47.9%. From the 2018 total school leavers’ population3 59.7% made the direct transition to tertiary study in 2019, down 1.5 percentage points.

Since 2013, the proportion of Māori school leavers making a direct transition4 to tertiary education has decreased in both MME and EME. The decline in direct transition to tertiary enrolment for Māori school leavers from MME between 2012 and 2018 was 14.3 percentage points. Direct transaction to tertiary from 2015 to 2018 for Māori school leavers in EME declined 4.4 percentage points.

Figure 6: Proportion of school leavers in tertiary education one year after leaving school by school leaving year and ethnicity (2011-2018)

In the 2018 school leaver cohort, the proportion of Māori school leavers from MME who enrolled in bachelors and above was higher than that of Māori school leavers from EME (17.5% and 14.1% respectively). Both groups had similar proportions enrolling in certificates and diplomas Level 3 to 7 (23.5% and 25.0% respectively). Māori school leavers from EME are more likely to participate in lower level tertiary education (8.9% compared to 7.0% of Māori school leavers in MME).

Figure 7: Proportion of 2018 Māori school leavers in tertiary education one year after leaving school by education type and by tertiary education level

Decile5

Students from higher decile schools are more likely to enrol in tertiary education. From the 2018 leaver cohort, 70.0% of school leavers from schools in decile 9 ad 10 enrolled in tertiary education in 2019. This compares with 48.3% of leavers from schools in decile 1 and 2. For the 2018 leaver cohort, there was a decrease in enrolling in tertiary education across all quintiles compared to 2017 leaver cohort, however decile 1 and 2 had the smallest decrease (0.6 percentage points).

Figure 8: Percentage of school leavers in tertiary education one year after leaving school by school2 leaving year by school decile (2013-2018)

Students from lower decile schools are more likely to enrol in foundation courses, certificates and diplomas than students from higher decile schools. Based on the 2018 leaver cohort, 33.5% of leavers from schools in quintile 1 enrolled in tertiary education in Levels 1 to 7 (non-degree) and 14.8% enrolled in bachelors and above during 2019. In comparison, 17.3% of school leavers from quintile 5 enrolled in levels one to seven (non-degree) and 52.7% enrolled in bachelors and above during 2019.

Figure 9: Percentage of 2018 school leavers in tertiary education one year after leaving school by school decile and tertiary education level

Highest School Qualification

Students who left school in 2018 with NCEA Level 36 were very likely to enrol in tertiary education in 2019 (72.2%). This compares with 35.3% for school leavers with less than a NCEA Level 1 qualification.

There was a decrease in enrolling in tertiary education for all levels of NCEA qualifications between the 2017 leaver cohort and the 2018 leaver cohort. The proportion of school leavers with NCEA Level 3 enrolling tertiary education in the year after leaving school had the highest decrease from 73.9% for 2017 school leavers to 72.2% for 2018 school leavers (1.7 percentage points), and the proportion of school leavers with NCEA Level 2 enrolling tertiary education in the year after leaving school decreased 1.5 percentage points from 49.8% for 2017 school leavers to 48.3% for 2018 school leavers.

Figure 10: Proportion of school leavers in tertiary education one year after leaving school by school leaving year and highest school qualification (2011-2018)

References

The Ministry of Education has established an Iterative Best Evidence Synthesis Programme to systematically identify, evaluate, analyse, synthesise and make accessible, relevant evidence linked to a range of learner outcomes.  Please visit BES (Iterative Best Evidence Synthesis) Programme to find out more.

Footnotes

  1. Tertiary education level is the highest level of enrolment over the given year.
  2. Total response ethnicity collection involves counting people who identify with more than one ethnic group in each of these ethnic groups. For the New Zealand total, individuals are counted only once.
  3. Total school leavers include school leavers of all ethnic groups in both MME and EME.
  4. Direct transition means enrolling in tertiary education in the year after leaving school.
  5. Deciles are a measure of the socio-economic position of a school’s student community relative to other schools throughout the country. Deciles are used to provide funding to state and state-integrated schools to enable them to overcome the barriers to learning faced by students from lower socio-economic communities. Students from schools with a higher decile have a smaller proportion of students with the lowest socio-economic factors.
  6. NCEA Level 3 includes equivalent international qualifications.