4. Tertiary Education
Why this is a focus area
Higher-level tertiary qualifications, including vocational education and training at NZQF levels 4 to 6 and at bachelor's level and above, have the greatest benefits for students. Qualifications at these levels increase students' future income and employment opportunities. Māori with a NZQF qualification at level four or above are more likely to be employed and earn higher incomes. Māori with post-school qualifications are also more likely to live longer.
Historically, there has been a significant participation and achievement gap between Māori and non-Māori in tertiary education. The earnings premium for Māori who completed tertiary qualifications in 2011 was greater than for non-Māori, suggesting that tertiary education qualifications tend to reduce the disparities between the earnings of Māori and non-Māori. 5 After graduation, Māori and non-Māori graduates earnings are similar for the first two years but there is a significant gap five years after training. This gap was largest for those who complete level 1 to 4 certificates, smallest for bachelors and other level 7 qualifications, and was reversed for Māori doctorate graduates who earned more than their non-Māori counterparts five years after study.
Finally, the Outcomes of tertiary education for Māori report found that Māori graduates lower quartile earnings declined most against non-Māori graduates in the years after study, and concluded that the implication was that Māori were more likely to be working part time/lower paying jobs. 6 Closing this gap contributes to better health outcomes for future generations of Māori and reduced inequity.
Where we want to go: Ka Hikitia Goals and Actions
There are four tertiary education goals outlined in Ka Hikitia-Accelerating Success. One relates specifically to Māori language in education and so is covered in focus area one. The other three are more general goals for Māori in tertiary education:
- Māori participate and achieve at all levels at least on par with other students in tertiary education
- Māori attain the knowledge, skills and qualifications that enable them to participate and achieve at all levels of the workforce
- Grow research and development of mātauranga Māori across the tertiary sector.
Māori participate and achieve at all levels at least on par with other students in tertiary education
- The proportion of Māori who attain a NZQF Level 4 or above qualification by age 25 increases
- Employment outcomes for Māori improve
Proportion of 25-year-old Māori who have completed a qualification at Level 4 or above through the New Zealand tertiary system
The proportion of 25 year old Māori who have completed a Level 4 qualification or above by age 25 has increased each year since 2007 to 30% (3,880) in 2014, a total increase of ten percentage points and 1,795 Māori.7
Over the same time period, the proportion of the total population has increased from 40% to 50%, a total increase of ten percentage points and 7,060 non-Māori.
The Ka Hikitia goal of an increase in the proportion of Māori who attain a NZQF Level 4 or above qualification by age 25 has been achieved. However between 2007 and 2014 there has consistently been a gap of at least twenty percentage points between the proportions of Māori and non-Māori twenty-five year olds who have completed a tertiary qualification at NZQF Level 4 or above. To achieve the vision of Māori participating and achieving at all levels of tertiary education at least on par with other students, the number of Māori entering tertiary qualifications must continue to increase.
Figure 4.1: Proportion of the 25 year old population who have completed a qualification at Level 4 or above through the New Zealand tertiary education system, by ethnicity (2007-2014)
Employment Rate for Māori
Post school qualifications improve students' future income and employment opportunities. Therefore Ka Hikitia sets goals for more Māori participating and achieving at a tertiary level and uses employment outcomes for Māori as a measure.
Since 2007 the employment rate for Māori with post-school qualifications aged 15 and over has decreased five percentage points (from 76% to 71%) while the percentage of 25-year-old Māori who have completed tertiary qualifications has increased ten percentage points (from 20% to 30%). This period encompasses the global financial crisis of 2008 which affected the New Zealand labour market in many ways beginning in mid-2008. Unemployment rose, more people went into study, people worked fewer hours, fewer jobs were available and labour market turnover slowed. While Māori were disproportionately affected by this, the protective effects of post-school qualification are evident in the much higher employment rate for Māori with a post school qualification. This group have an employment rate of 71% in 2014, 13.8 percentage points higher than the total Māori employment rate of 57.5%.
Māori are younger than the total New Zealand population and more likely to have young children (see Quick Stats, Population Context) and consequently more likely to be in part-time employment. 24% of the Māori population live in Auckland (2001, 2006 and 2013 Census data). These factors may partially explain why the impact of the recession was greater for Māori than for the total population - Statistics New Zealand identify young people, those living in Auckland and those working part-time as more likely to have been affected by the recession earlier and to be affected for longer.
Since 2012, the trend in the employment rate for people with a post school qualification aged 15 and over shows a faster rate of increase for Māori than for non-Māori.
Figure 4.2: Employment rate for people with post-school qualification aged 15 and over, by ethnicity (2007-2015*)
* Average for year to December
Destinations of graduates
A Ministry of Education report on the outcomes of tertiary education for Māori graduates, published in June 2014, looked at the destinations and income level of Māori compared to non-Māori graduates at one and five years post study.
The report found that, one year after completing study, the destinations of Māori and non-Māori graduates were similar with a few exceptions.
These exceptions included lower employment rates for Māori graduates of lower level qualifications (NZQF Levels 1-4) than non-Māori. Employment rates were similar between ethnic groups after completing qualifications at higher levels but Māori were less likely to be in employment than non-Māori after completing lower level studies.
This pattern persisted to five years post study; Māori were less likely to be employed than non-Māori and were more likely to be in further study. At the lower level 1-4 certifications Māori were over twice as likely to be on a benefit one year after completing study.
In some fields, including economics, chemical sciences, other natural and physical sciences, earth sciences, rehabilitation therapies, philosophy and religious studies and nursing, Māori bachelors degree graduates were more likely to be in employment five years after study than non-Māori, while in other fields the differences were insignificant.
Māori graduates were less likely to be overseas than non-Māori after completing qualifications at a diploma level or above, but there was no real difference below this level.
Median earnings comparison by ethnicity and qualification level at one, two and five years post study.
One year post study, Māori graduates median earnings were $1,600 greater than non-Māori for graduates certificate or diploma, and $300 greater for bachelors degree completers. Five years post-study non-Māori graduates median earnings were higher than Māori for all qualification types, except at a doctorate level.
The earnings differences were: $3,300 for masters completers, $3,800 at level 8, $1,800 at level 7, $2,000 at bachelors, $2,100 for diplomas, $2,600 for level 4 certificates, and $3,200 for level one to three certificate completers. Māori doctorate completers' median earnings were almost $9,400 than non-Māori graduates.
The outcomes of tertiary education report found that the earnings premium over all national median employment earnings enjoyed by people gaining qualifications is better for non-Māori than for Māori graduates. Non-Māori graduates earned more compared to the national median income than Māori graduates two and five years after study, for all levels of qualification completed.
Māori graduates' median earnings was above the national median five years after study for level 5 to 7 diploma completers and above, but non-Māori graduates earned above this at all levels.
Figure 4.3: Median earned annual income of young domestic completers one year after study, by qualification level and ethnic group
Figure 4.4: Median earned annual income of young domestic completers two years after study, by qualification level and ethnic group
Figure 4.5: Median earned annual income of young domestic completers five years after study, by qualification level and ethnic group
- Mahoney, P (2014) The outcomes of tertiary education for Maori graduates.
- Source: Statistics New Zealand, Household Labour Force Survey (customised data)
- The New Zealand labour market during recession. (2012) Statistics New Zealand.
Where to find out more
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