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Survey of the state of tertiary education sector

11 November 2002 Media Statement

Annual survey of the state of the tertiary education sector released

The Ministry of Education’s annual report on the tertiary education sector, New Zealand's Tertiary Education Sector: Profile & Trends 2001, reveals a sector that is responding well to many of the challenges it faces, says Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education) Steve Maharey.

The report released today shows that participation in tertiary education rose again in 2001. Latest figures show further growth in 2002 and projections of increasing participation over the next few years. The number of qualifications awarded in the sector has grown and there has been a further significant increase in international student numbers.

Steve Maharey said tertiary education plays a fundamental role in providing the skills New Zealand needs to help create a knowledge economy and society.

“New Zealand now has one of the highest tertiary education participation rates in the OECD, well above the rates in other comparable countries . The percentage of GDP spent on tertiary education in 1999 was 1% - eighth in the OECD. The percentage of government expenditure devoted to tertiary education was close to 5% in 1999, well above the OECD average of just over 3%.

“The report also reveals that the rate of Maori participation in tertiary education has grown and now exceeds that of non-Maori. It will be important to build on these gains, by increasing Maori participation at all levels of the sector and in the 18 - 24 age group where they are currently under-represented.

“Total government funding of tertiary education grew by 11% in 2001 to more than $3,300 million.

“Research outputs have increased while the rise in enrolments at the doctoral level shows that the sector is training an increasing number of researchers.

“The tertiary education reforms are intended to build on this performance and to align the sector more closely with national goals. Implementation of the reforms will be a key challenges for the sector in 2003,” Steve Maharey said.

Some of the key trends highlighted in the report are listed in the first appendix to this release. A set of key statistics can be found in the second appendix.


The report is available for downloading from the Ministry of Education’s web-site at the following address: A hard copy of the report can be obtained from Lida Kousary, (04) 463 8649, e-mail:

NZ’s Tertiary Education Sector: Profile & Trends 2001 - Key Trends


- Participation in the sector has continued to rise, with New Zealand now having the highest level of participation in degree-level education in the OECD. The numbers enrolled grew by nearly 9% in 2001, while the rise over the last five years was 17%.

- 35% of all 18-24 year olds were involved in tertiary education in 2001, compared with 33% in 2000 and 32% in 1999. 40% of students in 2001 were studying at a degree level while 9% were enrolled at the postgraduate level.

- Industry training numbers grew by a further 5% in 2001.

- Women represented 57% of all enrolments while nearly half of all students were over the age of 25.

- There has been a further significant increase in international student numbers. International enrolments grew by 52% in 2001, following a rise of 49% in 2000. International students now constitute more than 6% of all enrolments in the sector. The largest share of the growth has come from Chinese students who now represent 37% of all international students, having grown by more than 1,000 % over the last two years.

Maori in Tertiary Education

- Maori participation, in particular, rose in 2001 - from 14% to 19% of the population aged 15 or over while non-Maori participation grew from 11% to 12%. Maori now have higher participation than non-Maori, even adjusting for differences in the age profile.

- A challenge for the sector is to build on that achievement by lifting the proportion of Maori studying at higher levels in tertiary education and by raising participation among 18 - 24 year olds where Maori are currently less-well represented. Much of the recent growth in Maori participation was fuelled by the rise in enrolments in the wananga, which grew by 279% in 2001.

Funding of and Financial Performance in Tertiary Education

- The government’s budget for tertiary education increased by 11% in 2001/02 to more than $3,300 million. Average per student funding delivered through the EFTS-based tuition subsidy scheme rose slightly in 2001.

- TEIs have improved their financial performance on a range of measures. The total income of TEIs has grown by 35% between 1997 and 2001 to reach $2,410 million. The reported net operating surplus for public tertiary sector was $69 million - 2.9% of income, compared with 1.4% of income in 2000.

- TEIs have diversified their sources of income, with many institutions showing substantial increases in the income from international students and with the universities recording a substantial rise in external research earnings.

- 10 TEIs reported a net operating deficit in 2001 compared with 13 in 2000.

Research in Tertiary Education

- Research outputs produced in the universities have increased by more than 20% over the last five years. The rise in enrolments at the doctoral level - more than 25% over the last five years - shows that the sector is training an increasing number of researchers.

- Research contracts won by the universities represented $218 million in 2001 or 13% of all university revenue. Research contract income in the universities has risen by 65 % over the last five years.

Key Statistics


- In July 2001, 287,461 students were formally enrolled in tertiary education. It is estimated that over 393,000 learners studied in some form of tertiary education in 2001 as a whole. The number of students in the tertiary education sector as a whole grew by 9% since July 2000 and 17% since July 1997.

- The number of students enrolled in public tertiary education institutions (TEIs) increased by 5% from 2000 to 2001 . This is the highest level of growth experienced since 1995. Much of the growth has occurred in wananga, an increase of 279% from 2000. The numbers enrolled in private training establishments (PTEs) increased by 32% between July 2000 and July 2001. Further growth in PTE enrolments was limited by a moratorium imposed by the Government in mid 2001 on new PTEs and new PTE qualifications.

- International student numbers grew by 52% in 2001. The growth was largely attributable to the increase in the number of students from China. Enrolments by students from China have grown ten-fold since 1999.

- In 2001, 77,961 new students entered tertiary education. Only 35% of those entering were school leavers. Nearly half of the formally enrolled students in tertiary education in 2001 were aged 25 or over.

- In December 2001, 66,225 students had industry training agreements, an increase of 5% from 2000.

- In addition, nearly 37,000 students were involved in transition programmes administered by Skill New Zealand, such as the Youth Training, Training Opportunities, and Skill Enhancement programmes.

- Of the students enrolled on 31 July 2001, 40% were enrolled at degree level, 9% in postgraduate qualifications, 36% in certificates and 16% in diplomas.

- New Zealand’s rate of entry into university-level education is the highest in the OECD.

- In 2001 women comprised the majority (57%) of students in tertiary education.

Qualification Completions

- A total of 64,408 students completed nearly 68,823 programmes of study within TEIs in 2001, a 6% increase over 2000 and a 19% increase over completions in 1997. 51% of all higher-level qualification completions in TEIs were at degree or postgraduate level.

- There was a 47% increase in the number of students completing qualifications in PTEs in 2001 from 2000. The great majority of qualification completions within PTEs were certificates (72%) and diplomas (22%).

Pathways to Tertiary Education

- Community education programmes were provided by 29 TEIs. There were 219,656 enrolments in community education programmes at schools during 2001.

- In 2001, 21,642 trainees participated in Training Opportunities programmes. 53% moved into further education, training or employment within two months of leaving the programme. Over the same period 12,503 trainees undertook Youth Training Programmes. 56% of those in Youth Training moved into employment or further training or education within two months of completion.

Maori in Tertiary Education

- Maori participation grew in 2001 from 14% to 19% of the population aged 15+ while non-Maori participation grew form 11% to 12% over the same period. Maori now have higher participation than non-Maori, even adjusting for age.

- Growth in Maori participation has occurred mainly in wananga and private providers. Te Wananga O Aotearoa grew over 400 % in 2001.

- Maori participation is higher than non-Maori for all age groups except the 18-24 years old. Participation rates in part-time study have risen sharply since 2000 after falling since 1997. Maori students are older compared to Non-Maori.

- Maori remain under-represented in their enrolment and completions in high degree qualifications. Sub-degree enrolments represented 73% of all formal enrolments by Maori. 79% of qualifications gained by Maori students were at the sub-degree level. Only 5% were at the post-graduate level.

Pasifika in Tertiary Education

- Pasifika students comprise just under 5% of enrolments. While the actual number of Pasifika students in TEIs has increased, the proportion relative to total enrolments has not been changing significantly.

- Pasifika students participate in sub-degree level study at over twice the rate of other students. Only 4% of all Pasifika students studied at the post-graduate level compared with 10% European/Pakeha.

- Over two-thirds of qualifications gained by Pasifika students in 2001 were either certificates or diplomas.

Research in Tertiary Education

- The universities reported a total of 17,254 publications and other research outputs in 2001, up 23% over the last five years. There were 2.45 publications per full-time equivalent academic staff member in universities.

- Research contract income in universities constituted $218 million, an increase of 60% since 1997. Research contract income represents 13% of all university revenue. The average research contract earning per FTE academic staff member in universities was $30,905.

Financial Trends and Performance in TEIs

- The total income of TEIs has grown by 35% between 1997 and 2001 to reach $2.41 billion. In 2001 the reported net operating surplus for public tertiary sector was $69 million, (2.9% of income).

- 10 TEIs reported a net operating deficit in 2001, against 13 in 2000.

- Capital expenditure across the sector was $334 million in 2001, compared with $341 million in 2000.

Resourcing Tertiary Education in NZ

- The Government’s budget for tertiary education increased by an estimated 11% in 2001/02 to $3,356 million. Of this sum, 46% funded student tuition subsidies, 29% funded student loans and 12% funded student allowances. A further 5% funded training for designated student groups through industry training and transition programmes such as the Youth Training and Skill Enhancement programmes.

- Total spending on EFTS tuition subsidies has increased rose nearly 10% to 1,400 million in 2001. Over the same period, there has been an increase in the number of funded EFTS places of 9% to 194,300. There was a small increase in the average subsidy per actual EFTS place.

- The number of places funded at wananga grew by 129% from 2000 to 2001. PTEs experienced an increase of 44% in funded places. Polytechnic funded places grew by 7% while the universities grew by 0.7% and funded places at the colleges of education declined nearly 4%.

Financial Support for Students

- In 2001, 148,174 students borrowed through the Student Loan Scheme compared to 128,107 in 2000 - a rise of 16%. The student loan uptake rate in 2001 was 56%, up from 55% in 2000.

- The average borrowing in 2001 was $6,135, up 1.3% on 2000.

- The average student debt stood at $12,497 in June 2001, a rise of 0.7% on the previous year. 54% of all borrowers owed less than $10,000, while about 7% owed more than $30,000. The average repayment time is estimated to be 10.3 years.

- The total value of student loan debt reached $4.14 billion on 30 June 2001.

- Government spending on student allowances was $400 million in the financial year 2001/02.

- The number of students in receipt of an allowance in 2001 was 67,840, a rise of 2% on the previous year.


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