New Zealand’s education system is in reasonable shape.

That is one conclusion from an annual OECD survey, Education at a Glance. The population is becoming better educated, which can only be a positive trend, and the percentage of women taking science and technology courses is among the highest in the world.

Encouragingly, many, many young New Zealander are enrolled in some form of education.
New Zealand continues to invest heavily in education.

For the past few years public expenditure across all levels of education has been around 19 per cent of total government spending. The OECD average has been around 11 per cent.



The country’s education system reaches a significant number of youngsters at the start of their lives. Some 65 per cent of 2 year olds are enrolled in early childhood centres, compared to the OECD average of 54 per cent.

By the following year, enrolment jumps to 89 per cent, against the OECD figure of 78 per cent.

A success story has emerged at the secondary level. The share of the population aged 25 to 34 who did not complete their senior school years fell dramatically from 31 per cent in 2000 to 16 per cent last year, the OECD average.

At the tertiary level, New Zealand students are more likely than the OECD average to choose natural sciences, mathematics and statistics (10 per cent of all tertiary entrants, compared to 6 per cent across the OECD) but the opposite is true for engineering, manufacturing and construction (8 per cent and 16 per cent respectively).

But the picture is not all rosy. Tertiary students in New Zealand pay the seventh-highest fees in the developed world. For undergraduates taking bachelor degree courses, that worked out to $5927 in average fees in 2015-16.

When students graduate, they do not fare as well financially as qualified students in other countries. And men, on this analysis, fare much better than women.

The New Zealand education system relies heavily on the financial input of international students. In 2015, 21 per cent of all students were in this category, the highest in the OECD. One quarter of all bachelor’s degree students were from overseas.

At the tertiary level, another recent report suggested that New Zealand universities are slipping off the pace.

Global rankings calculated by the Times Higher Education survey showed that the University of Auckland was at risk of falling out of a list of the top 200 institutions in the world.

It was placed 192 in the survey, having fallen from 165th place. The trend is important in the education sector because fee-paying students will be drawn to institutions with the best reputations.

This produces revenue for the universities, which lets them attract and retain quality academic staff who in turn deliver research and teaching performance.

Tertiary students faced with paying high fees to institutions whose ranking is heading south may well be persuaded to look elsewhere. This part of the education report card needs improvement.

Source: NZ Herald

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