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Cost Main Factor in Lack of Tertiary Education Participation

Tuesday 9 September, 2014


The cost of education is the biggest factor stopping Kiwis from entering tertiary education, a recent study by ASG Education Programmes New Zealand reveals.

The survey shows 65 percent of respondents said children are unable to attend tertiary education because it is too expensive.

ASG Chief Executive John Velegrinis says this raises concerning questions around equal opportunity.

“Education at all levels must be accessible to everyone. We know that for economies to thrive, people from all socioeconomic groups need to be able to see post secondary education as a realistic option.

“New Zealand’s rates of child poverty have doubled from 14 to 27 percent in just 30 years. With an aging population, the country’s long-term prosperity and its ability to provide sustainable and fulfilling employment for its citizens depend on the quality of its higher education and the participation rate,” he added.

The ASG study found that 52 percent of respondents said lack of support and encouragement from teachers, and family is the main reason for not going on to post-secondary study.

This complex issue is centred on teachers’ expectations of children coming from different backgrounds, says Pat Lynch, National Coordinator of the National Excellence in Teaching (NEiTA) Awards, which give communities the opportunity to recognise and reward inspiring teachers.
“Teachers can sometimes behave differently toward students according to their socioeconomic or cultural background. The best teachers recognise that they have a huge role to play in breaking down stereotypes and in doing so, encourage children to see themselves as having equal potential,” says Mr Lynch.
Forty five percent of respondents thought lack of interest in tertiary education is the main reason for lack of post secondary participation.
Mr Lynch says it is time for New Zealand to have an education leaving age rather than a school leaving age.

“If we compare someone with a tertiary qualification with someone who doesn’t over a 30 year period, the differences in life outcomes are huge. Introducing an education leaving age, when someone has achieved to at least diploma level, is a reasonable and practical way of influencing employability and helping a person achieve a better quality of life.”

ASG’s study also found other reasons parents thought children didn’t continue with higher education were: post-secondary education was not essential for their chosen career (30 percent), lack of ability (35 percent), preference to start immediate paid employment (17 percent), emotional/health related (13 percent) and lack of belief in the quality of education (10 percent).

Less than five percent of respondents thought peer pressure, location or lack of appropriate subjects were factors in children’s decision not to pursue post-secondary education.

In the survey, respondents were asked to provide their top three answers to the question ‘What do you consider to be the main reasons why children do not pursue post-secondary education?’

ASG Education Programs New Zealand (ASG) is a not-for-profit and member-driven organisation with a mission to enhance the opportunity for children to gain a complete education. ASG started as a friendly society cooperative in Australia in 1974 by a group of parents who wanted to plan for their child’s education. ASG Education Programs New Zealand commenced in 1990 in New Zealand. Since inception, more than 300,000 families with more than 509,000 children have been enrolled with ASG.
ASG helps create educational opportunities for children and delivers a range of products and resources to families to support their children’s early learning phase right through to post-secondary studies. ASG helps families plan for their children’s education and we offer a proven and proactive way to nurture a child’s education journey and help them reach their full potential and live their dreams. At the same time, ASG supports their family to offset the cost of education. Parents make regular contributions to an education benefit fund that helps to offset education fees and other expenses when they arrive. ASG currently has more than 15,600 New Zealand families and more than 22,500 New Zealand children currently enrolled with ASG. For more information, please visit


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