Participation in tertiary education in New Zealand.
Students enrolled at New Zealand’s tertiary institutions
The following section summarises the key trends in enrolments, equivalent full-time students (EFTS) and participation rates at universities, institutes of technology and polytechs (ITPs), wānanga and government-funded private training establishments. The data covers domestic and international students that were enrolled during the 12 months to December 2018.
What does the 2018 data show?
- The overall number of students enrolled in formal study at tertiary providers decreased by 2.1 percent (8,530), from 404,750 in 2017 to 396,220 in 2018.
- Domestic student numbers decreased by 2.3 percent (8,020), from 343,430 to 335,410. this continues a downward trend that started in 2009. International student numbers also decreased slightly by 0.8 percent (510), from 61,320 to 60,810.
- The only ethnic group with an increase in domestic enrolments between 2017 and 2018 was Asian with an increase of 2.6 percent (1,245). Enrolments for other major groups all fell (Māori by 4.9 percent, Pacific Peoples by 3.9 percent and European by 2.1 percent).
- The overall participation rate for domestic students at tertiary education providers fell from 8.9 percent in 2017 to 8.6 percent for 2018. The largest decreases by ethnic group were for Māori and Pacific Peoples (by approximately 0.9 and 0.7 percentage points respectively).
- Student numbers decreased overall at polytechnics by 3.6 percent (4,995), at wānanga by 5.7 percent (2,275) and at PTEs by 5.4 percent (3,435), but increased overall at universities by 0.8 percent (1,405).
- Decreases in the total study load, measured in EFTS, mirror the downward pattern in student numbers.
The overall number of students enrolled in formal study at tertiary education providers in 2018 decreased by 2.1 percent (8,530), from 404,750 to 396,220. Domestic student numbers decreased by 2.3 percent (8,020), from 343,430 to 335,410. This continues a downward trend that started in 2009. International student numbers decreased by 0.8 percent (510), from 61,320 to 60,810 (see Table 1).
The overall participation rate for domestic students at tertiary education providers fell from 8.9 percent to 8.6 percent for 2018. Participation remains higher for females (10.2 percent) than males (6.9 percent) (see Figure 1).
|Number of students enrolled||Number of EFTS||Participation Rate (%)|
|2017||2018|| % point|
Figure 1: Domestic student enrolments, EFTS and participation rates 2009-2018
Participation by ethnicity
Table 2 compares domestic enrolments, EFTS and participation rates for the main ethnic groups for 2017 and 2018. Asian students were the only group where enrolments increased for 2018. Enrolments for this group have increased in keeping with population change. The largest age group among tertiary students is 20 to 24 years and this age group has trebled in New Zealand’s Asian population over the last 20 years.
Enrolments for the other main ethnic groups all decreased in 2018. For Māori, the decrease was 4.9 percent (3,860 students) to 75,625, for Pacific Peoples it was 3.9 percent (1,335 students) and European 2.1 percent (4,485 students). Enrolment changes were reflected in EFTS numbers, with an increase for Asian students (by 2.1 percent) and decreases for other groups in line with decreases in enrolments. The largest decreases were for Māori and Pacific Peoples, largely due to decreased enrolments for Level 4 certificates (by 17 percent for both groups) and Level 2 certificates (by 13 percent and 14 percent respectively).
Figure 2 shows participation rates by ethnicity for 2013 to 2018. While Māori and Pacific rates remain higher than other groups, decreased enrolments are reflected in decreased participation rates and continue the downward trend of recent years. The participation rate for Asian students remained stable in 2018, since while enrolment numbers increased, so did the population.
|Ethnicity||Number of students enrolled||Number of EFTS||Participation Rate (%)|
|2017||2018|| % |
|2017||2018|| % point|
Figure 2: Domestic participation rates by ethnicity 2013-2018
Participation by subsector
Most subsectors showed a decrease in student enrolments in 2018. Student numbers decreased overall at ITPs by 3.6 percent (4,995), from 138,080 to 133,085. The decrease at wānanga was 5.7 percent (2,275), from 39,975 to 37,700, with a similar decrease at PTEs by 5.4 percent (3,435), from 64,150 to 60,715. The exception was universities which had an increase in enrolments of 0.8 percent (1,405), from 173,835 to 175,240 (see Table 3).
The largest decreases in domestic enrolments were at wānanga (by 5.7 percent, or 2,275 students), PTEs (3.9 percent, or 1,945) and ITPs (3.4 percent, or 4,035). For international enrolments the largest decrease was for PTEs (10.6 percent, or 1,490) followed by ITPs (5.2 percent, or 955). These decreases were nearly balanced by an increase in international enrolments at universities (by 6.6 percent, or 1,950).
|Subsector||Number of students enrolled||Number of EFTS|
|2017||2018||% change||2017||2018||% change|
|Institutes of technology and polytechnics||119,800||115,765||-3.4||59,390||57,130||-3.8|
|All public providers||298,035||291,605||-2.2||194,551||192,355||-1.1|
|Private training establishments||50,130||48,185||-3.9||28,746||27,863||-3.1|
|Institutes of technology and polytechnics||18,275||17,320||-5.2||12,248||11,370||-7.2|
|All public providers||47,715||48,710||2.1||34,479||35,347||2.5|
|Private training establishments||14,020||12,530||-10.6||8,627||7,449||-13.6|
|Institutes of technology and polytechnics||138,080||133,085||-3.6||71,638||68,499||-4.4|
|All public providers||345,750||340,315||-1.6||229,030||227,701||-0.6|
|Private training establishments||64,150||60,715||-5.4||37,372||35,312||-5.5|
Participation by qualification level/type
There were 11,600 (5.9 percent) fewer student enrolments in 2018 in Level 1-7 diploma or certificate level qualifications than in 2017. This continues a similar decrease in enrolments for non-degree qualifications between 2016 and 2017. Enrolments in bachelors degrees have remained at over 145,000 since 2016 and post-graduate numbers have generally been increasing in recent years. Total enrolments in bachelors or higher level qualifications totalled 220,055 in 2018.
The largest decrease in enrolments for non-degree qualifications in 2018 was for Level 2 certificates (by 10.4 percent, or 2,980 students), followed by Level 4 certificates (by 9 percent or 5,635 students), then diplomas and certificates at Levels 5 to 7 with an 8.2 percent decrease (or 4,980 students).
|Qualification Type / Level||Number of students enrolled|| Number of equivalent full-time|
student units (EFTS)
|Diplomas | Certificates 5-7||60,405||55,425||-8.2||32,380||29,960||-7.5|
|Graduate Diplomas | Certificates||14,310||15,135||5.8||7,730||8,255||6.8|
Technical Notes and Definitions
Data relates to students enrolled at any time during the year with a tertiary education provider in formal qualifications of greater than 0.03 EFTS (more than one week's full-time duration). Data excludes all non-formal learning and on-job industry training. Data includes those private training establishments that received Student Achievement Component funding, and/or had students with student loans or allowances, and/or delivered Youth Guarantee programmes. Students are counted in each ethnic group they identify with. Totals also include those students with unknown values. Age has been calculated as at 31 December.
Equivalent full-time student (EFTS):
One equivalent full-time student (EFTS) unit is defined as the student workload that would normally be carried out in a single academic year (or a 12-month period) by a student enrolled full-time.
The total participation rate is the percentage of the population aged 15 years and over who were enrolled at any time during the year. Rates are only calculated for domestic students and those shown on this page have been standardised for age (crude participation rates are available in the full data tables).
Data, including totals, has been rounded to the nearest 5 to protect the privacy of individuals, so the sum of individual counts may not add to the total.
Percentages have been suppressed where the denominator was less than 50. This is indicated by “s..” in the relevant table cell.
Provider-based Enrolments Updated: Jun-2019
Statistics relating to students enrolled in tertiary education providers by a range of demographic and other characteristics.
Provider-based Equivalent Full-time Students Updated: Jun-2019
Statistics relating to student enrolment in tertiary education providers in terms of equivalent full-time student units.
Participation Rates Updated: Jun-2019
Statistics relating to the percentage of the New Zealand population enrolled in tertiary education.
Provider-based Enrolments: Field of study
of the courses studied at tertiary education providers Updated: Jun-2019
Statistics relating to the field of study of each of the courses a student is enrolled in at tertiary education providers by various student and study characteristics. For example you might use this data to know how many students are studying at least one course in Information Technology.
Provider-based Equivalent Full-time Students: Field of
study of the courses studied at tertiary education providers Updated: Jun-2019
Statistics relating to the number of equivalent full-time students (EFTS) at tertiary education providers by field of study and by various student and study characteristics. This data is collated at the course level. For example you might use this data to know the number of EFTS enrolled in Information technology courses.
Provider-based Enrolments: Predominant field
of study of students at tertiary education providers Updated: Jun-2019
Statistics relating to the predominant field(s) of study of students enrolled at tertiary education providers. This data looks at all the courses studied within a qualification to determine a student's predominant field(s) of study. For example, you might use this data to know how many students are specialising in Information technology.
Participation in Industry Training Updated: Jun-2019
Statistics relating to trainees enrolled in workplace-based learning, including industry training and Apprenticeships.
Rates of progression to further study after graduating Updated: Jun-2019
Statistics about students who undertake further study after completing a tertiary qualification. Data is presented for detailed and grouped qualification levels and types, and for narrow and broad fields of study. Data is available in spreadsheets as filtered lists, or as comma delimited text files for uploading into business intelligence and analytics tools.
Targeted Training Programmes Updated: Jun-2019
Statistics relating to students enrolled in Training Opportunities, Youth Training and Skill Enhancement programmes.
Secondary-Tertiary Alignment Resource (STAR) Updated: Jun-2019
Statistics relating to school students participating in Secondary-Tertiary Alignment Resource (STAR) programmes.
Adult and Community Education Updated: Jun-2019
Statistics relating to participation in non-formal learning, including Adult and Community Education.
Languages Updated: Jun-2019
Statistics relating to participation in language courses.
For tertiary education data enquiries, please email the: Tertiary Mailbox