This is the 19th edition of an annual series which provides an analysis of the tertiary education sector’s trends and performance. Information for the Profiles and Trends series is gathered from returns provided by government-funded tertiary education providers to the Ministry of Education and to the Tertiary Education Commission.

The publications released so far are New Zealand’s Annual Tertiary Enrolments; Tertiary Education Outcomes & Qualification Completions; and New Zealand’s Workplace-based Learners.

The series is an important resource as it takes a snapshot of the sector as it is in terms of who is studying what and where and how; and also as a predictor of trends in employment and education to come.

This year the statistics again show that universities are doing their job well especially in terms of students completing their qualifications, Executive Director of Universities New Zealand Chris Whelan said.

“The Ministry’s latest statistics show that New Zealand’s universities are continuing to deliver high quality education, with excellent completion results for both domestic and international students backed up by outcomes data highlighting that getting a university-level qualification remains a good investment.”

Whelan points to the low unemployment rate of those with degrees or higher qualifications.

“Graduates with a bachelor’s degree or higher qualification continue to have the lowest unemployment rate in the labour force (2.9 per cent). Income analysis shows that the median weekly earnings of people with a bachelor’s degree or higher qualification were 161 per cent higher than those without a qualification.”

Overall, the statistics shows that university enrolments are stable, he said.

“Students are continuing to choose to enrol in bachelor’s degree and higher qualifications including a steady increase in international students attracted to New Zealand university doctoral degrees.

“University course completion rates remain the highest across the tertiary sector (as they have been since these statistics began publication in 2008). Universities’ course completion rate for 2016 was 86 per cent, compared with 80 per cent for students studying at a private training establishment (PTE), and 77 per cent for polytechnic and wānanga students.”

The Profile and Trends findings were also received positively by Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) Chief Executive Tim Fowler.

“We welcome the findings in the Profile and Trends report that confirms New Zealanders continue to participate in and graduate from a range of tertiary education opportunities that are of benefit to them, our economy and society,” he said.

“Through our $2.9 billion investment in tertiary education and the careers services we offer New Zealanders of all ages and stages, we will continue to work alongside tertiary education organisations to promote and enhance the value of tertiary study as a vital means of achieving wellbeing and prosperity for us all.”


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