Responding to the Tertiary Education Strategy

TES priorities

There were various initiatives developed or implemented by the TEC in 2015 to give effect to the TES. This section outlines initiatives designed to contribute to these priorities and the Sector’s response.

Priority 1: Delivering skills for industry

New Zealand’s labour force needs to have a range of technical and transferable skills that are well matched to labour market needs. These include skills for addressing new and emerging shortages in specific areas, such as ICT science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills needed for innovation and economic growth. This calls for more co-operation between industry and TEOs to identify the types of skills most needed and how best to develop them. TEOs need to create opportunities for industry involvement in planning and delivering education, including re-skilling opportunities for the existing workforce, while industry will need to clearly identify its medium- and long-term needs, and attract and retain the talent it requires. For 2015, the overall sector delivery volumes of STEM subjects at SAC level 3+ increased from 19% to 20% of total SAC 3+ delivery.

ICT Graduate Schools

Budget 2014 allocated $28.6 million over four years to establish ICT Graduate Schools at three New Zealand locations. The goal of these ICT Graduate Schools is to produce ICT graduates with work-relevant and business-focused skills; provide more direct pathways from education into employment; and help grow New Zealand’s ICT talent to support firm growth, innovation and productivity. This is being achieved by tertiary education providers forming consortia with high-tech firms that allow them to work directly with industry to design programmes of study and offer experiential learning opportunities for students, and increase industry-focused ICT education and research. More than 350 EFTS are expected to graduate from the Schools per annum once they are fully established (from 2018).

ICT Graduate Schools are located in the South Island, Wellington and Auckland. The Auckland and Wellington schools began programme delivery in 2016. Although the Schools have only just become operational, both have reported strong interest from students and industry.

Engineering – Education to Employment project

The government has set a goal of increasing the number of engineering graduates by an additional 500 per year from 2017 and has increased the tuition subsidy to help achieve this. In 2014, the TEC initiated the Engineering – Education to Employment (E2E) project in collaboration with providers and employers to raise awareness of engineering as a career; develop pathways into tertiary education from senior secondary schools (including curriculum components); and ensure that the skills being taught are what industry needs.

In Budget 2015, the government provided $6 million over four years for initiatives to grow the pipeline of students studying engineering.

Key achievements to date include working with engineering employers to discover the skills they need from graduates emerging from the tertiary sector, to feed into the design of industry-relevant tertiary engineering programmes; the expansion of the engineeringe2e.org.nz website which includes a wide and growing range of case studies to share best practice and encourage participation in relevant initiatives; the ‘Make the World’ nationwide public awareness campaign to grow young people’s aspirations in engineering and encourage them to enter tertiary-level engineering study; and launching the Secondary Tertiary Pathways initiative to develop better pathways for secondary school students into engineering careers.

Priority 2: Getting at-risk young people into a careerTop

Tertiary education plays a central role in equipping young people with the key employability skills and qualifications they need to begin a career. Those not in employment, education or training (NEET) are the focus of this priority. Many of our interventions are targeted towards NEETS and we are increasingly looking at flexible models of delivery to better support learners to employment such as 3+2 models and programmes with work experience. Our key interventions for young NEETs is the Youth Guarantee programme.

Youth Guarantee

Youth Guarantee provides fees-free tertiary places for eligible domestic students aged 16 to 19 years who are studying towards NCEA levels 1 or 2 or another qualification at levels 1, 2, or 3 on the NZQF. We are encouraging providers to increasingly engage with industry and employers to achieve the desired outcomes of further study and employment for Youth Guarantee learners. Youth Guarantee programmes are an important contributor to reaching the Better Public Services target of 85% of 18-year-olds achieving National Certificate of Education Achievement Level 2 (or equivalent) by 2017. 

In 2015 there were approximately 9376 YG EFTS delivered across the tertiary education sector, a decrease of 259 from 2014. This change was made up of an increase of 162 EFTS in the ITP sector, 15 in the Wānanga sector and a decrease of 436 EFTS in the PTE sector. Educational achievement improved overall with a slight increase in the Wānanga sector and a moderate increase in the PTE sector.

Figure 6: Youth Guarantee participation and achievement 2014–2015
Figure 6: Youth Guarantee participation and achievement 2014-2015

Priority 3: Boosting achievement of Māori and PasifikaTop

All individuals from all backgrounds must have the opportunity to realise their talents through an inclusive tertiary education system that improves outcomes from study. The government is seeking to further strengthen achievement from two key groups who will together represent 30% of New Zealanders by 2030: Māori and Pasifika. It is essential that tertiary education improves its delivery to these groups through culturally responsive provision and other meaningful practices or initiatives that engage these learners for success.

Initiatives to support Māori performance

Māori are critical to New Zealand’s future success. To ensure they are able to take advantage of future employment opportunities and contribute to a productive and vibrant New Zealand economy, we want a system that enables Māori learners to participate and achieve at all levels of tertiary education on par with their peers.

Tū Māia e te Akonga is our action plan to raise Māori learner participation and achievement in tertiary education. The outcomes we want to see are:

We acknowledge that this isn’t something we can achieve on our own. So we are working better with the sector and agencies to support tertiary education organisations to achieve these goals.

We have worked more collaboratively with our education agency partners, and with those who have a stake in successful Māori learner educational outcomes such as Iwi and other Māori and community organisations. Information on the Tū Maia Action Plan’s specific focus areas is available here on our website.

In 2015, the overall Māori participation rate remained similar to 2014, with a very slight increases in the university, ITP and PTE sectors and slight decreases in the wānanga and ITO sectors. Educational achievement remained similar to 2015 with the most significant change being seen in the PTE sector where course completions decreased from 79% in 2014 to 75% in 2015 and qualification completions decreased from 74% to 67%.

Figure 7: Māori participation and achievement 2014–2015
Figure 7: Māori participation and achievement 2014-2015

Initiatives to support Pasifika performance

Over the last year, we used the TEC’s Pasifika Framework and our key mechanisms more effectively to identify and share evidence-based interventions that improve the tertiary system’s performance for Pasifika learners.

We refined the Pasifika investment assessment framework and undertook a post implementation review of TEO Investment Plans in meeting the needs of Pasifika learners for the 2015/2016 period. The findings have helped inform further guidance to the sector, including the release of self-review tools and investment guidance to improve TEO performance for Pasifika learners.

We produced and published Pasifika research reports that has helped provide the tertiary sector with an evidence base to develop and implement learning environments that support successful Pasifika outcomes. The purpose of the research is to assist TEOs to lift Pasifika participation, achievement and completion rates in a tertiary setting. The key findings were also used to develop the 2015 Plan Guidance.

The report Professional Development Practices and Needs to Enhance Responsiveness to Māori and Pasifika Learners in Tertiary Settings identified aspects of professional development that are important and work to enhance effective teaching and strong educational performance for Māori and Pasifika learners. Professional development to support an understanding of Pasifika cultures, cultural contexts, beliefs, values and identity was identified as an important area of focus.

We worked with the Ministry of Education on the mid-term review of the Pasifika Education Plan 2013–2017 which sets out the government’s strategic vision to accelerate Pasifika achievement in education. The review found the most significant achievement shifts for Pasifika learners have been against the government’s three education Better Public Service targets.

We hosted a cross-sector tertiary research forum to share evidence-based approaches and interventions that improve Pasifika outcomes in the tertiary sector - 85% of the attendees stating the forum would help change their approach to support Pasifika learner success.

We hosted workshops with key stakeholders in the university and ITP sectors to discuss opportunities that can make a difference for Pasifika. The key outcome was the sharing of areas of best practice. We will use the findings to refine the Pasifika Investment Plan Assessment Framework for the 2016 Investment Round.

We released Investment Plan Guidance that includes strong expectations on tertiary education organisations to improve outcomes for Pasifika learners. We also developed and tested a new tool with the sector which will enable us to assess the effectiveness of a provider’s approach to improve Pasifika outcomes in the 2016 Investment Plan round.

We confirmed a strategy to invest in South Auckland as a key area of focus in our next investment round. This will include:

In 2015, the overall Pasifika participation rate remained similar to 2014, with very slight increases in the university, ITP, and ITO sectors. Educational achievement remained consistent with 2014 in the ITP and University sectors and decreased moderately for the Wānanga and PTE sectors. Educational achievement in the ITO sector improved with course completions increasing from 71% in 2014 to 78% in 2015 and programme completions increasing from 62% to 70%.

Figure 8: Pasifika participation and achievement 2014–2015
Figure 8: Pasifika participation and achievement 2014-2015


Priority 4: Improving adult literacy and numeracy 2015Top

We finalised our Literacy and Numeracy Implementation Strategy in November 2015 following extensive consultation. The Strategy will guide our literacy and numeracy work for the next four years and sets out how we will work with the sector, employers and across government to lift literacy and numeracy skills.

Tools and resources to help educators and learners

The Literacy and Numeracy for Adults Assessment Tool (Assessment Tool) is the key diagnostic tool that determines literacy and numeracy competency for adults and allows tailored teaching which targets specific need.

In 2015, 75% of all learners required to take an initial reading assessment did so, and 56% of learners required to take a progress reading assessment did so. 71% of all learners required to take an initial numeracy assessment did so, and 54% of learners required to take a progress numeracy assessment did so. Compared with 2014, initial assessment usage was higher but progress assessment use remained similar. Use of the Assessment Tool continued to be higher for Youth Guarantee-funded programmes than for SAC-funded programmes.

We enhanced our existing infrastructure to more effectively achieve learner progress. We launched new Assessment Tool options (Starting Points options for ESOL and foundation-level English learners, and Te Ata Hāpara for Māori learners) to make it more relevant to diverse learners and increase their engagement with learning.

The online self-directed digital tool, Pathways Awarua, achieved record high usage by learners. Learner growth occurred due to the new Road Code pathway which allows adults to prepare for a learners driver licence test while improving their literacy and numeracy, and online marketing showcasing learner and educator success stories.

Improving sector capability and workplace productivity

The new ‘He Taunga Waka’ professional development programme from Ako Aotearoa improved the teaching practice of educators working with Māori and Pasifika learners to lift learner literacy and numeracy outcomes.

The Industry Training Federation started delivering the revamped Skills Highway programme, which supports firms to improve workers’ literacy and numeracy skills. Demand for the Workplace Literacy and Numeracy Employer-led Fund grew to full allocation for the 2015/16 financial year. Training from this fund delivers better business performance and better working lives.

Priority 5: Strengthening research-based institutionsTop

Building tertiary education’s contribution to economic growth requires New Zealand to have strong, internationally respected and competitive universities and other research-based institutions. TEOs need to deliver high-quality qualifications for students, and attract and develop skilled staff to teach and to contribute to growing a strong research base. Research covers a broad spectrum, including academic, applied, commercially innovative and business-led research. 

Performance-Based Research Fund

The TEC administers the Performance-Based Research Fund (PBRF) with the primary goal of encouraging and rewarding excellent research in New Zealand’s tertiary education sector. The PBRF is growing, up from $262 million in 2013 to $278.5 million allocated for 2015 and $300 million due to be allocated for 2016. PBRF Quality Evaluations periodically assess the quality of research carried out by New Zealand-based degree-granting TEOs and their wholly owned subsidiaries, and fund them on the basis of their research performance. Eligible TEOs also generate PBRF funding from external research income (ERI) and students’ research degree completions (RDCs).

Following a 2012/2013 Ministry of Education-led review of the PBRF, in February 2014 Cabinet agreed a number of changes to the fund, to progressively take effect from 2015. Revised objectives included a shift beyond rewarding research performance to increasing research quality through a number of operational changes. For the ERI component, the weighting will increase and TEOs will be required to report their PBRF-eligible external research income broken down by source. Another proposed change is to reward tertiary education organisations that attract research funding from industry, iwi and not-for-profit organisations.

In July 2014 the TEC convened a Sector Reference Group to consult with the sector and other stakeholders on a range of implementation issues as part of the development of operational guidelines for the 2018 Quality Evaluation. The results of the consultation informed the guidelines published on 30 June 2016.

In 2015 there were 3,858 RDC’s, which was a slight decrease from 3,946 in 2014. Approximately 96% of RDCs were at universities.

In terms of fields of study, Society and Culture (827) Natural and Physical Sciences (799) accounted for the highest proportions of RDCs with 21% and 20% respectively.

Natural and Physical Sciences and Society and Culture accounted for 27% (360) and 20% (271) of RDCs respectively at doctoral level and 17% (439) and 22% (556) at masters level. Most post graduate level RDC’s were in Creative Arts (51) accounting for 86% of RDCs at this level.

Centres of Research Excellence Fund

The TEC administers the Centres of Research Excellence (CoREs) with the primary goal of encouraging the development of excellent tertiary education-based research that is collaborative, strategically focused and creates significant knowledge transfer activities. The CoREs fund is fully contestable and funding is allocated and monitored by the TEC.

CoREs are inter-institutional research networks, with researchers working together on commonly agreed work programmes. They are focal points for building specific knowledge/innovation platforms, which allows New Zealand research to compete on the global stage. They build research capacity and capabilities through post-graduate programmes and the training of new researchers. There are currently ten CoREs, receiving a total funding allocation of approximately $50 million per year.

In 2017 the TEC will review the CoREs to ensure they are making good progress toward achieving their objectives.

Priority 6: Growing international linkagesTop

International education provides an important opportunity to improve the economic, social and cultural value delivered by tertiary education. It not only provides additional sources of income for New Zealand TEOs, but also stimulates international linkages with overseas counterparts, helps enhance teaching and research, promotes knowledge sharing, builds human capital and realises wider benefits to international relationships and trade.

The TEC works closely with other agencies to help TEOs grow and mature their international linkages, and contribute to the goals of the Leadership Statement for International Education.

Leadership Statement for International Education

The government’s Leadership Statement for International Education (released September 2011) has become the main strategic framework for government agencies which work to develop international education and sets out guidance for providers active in the sector.

Investing in TEOs to support high-quality international education

We support making New Zealand an attractive place for international students, by investing in well-managed and quality TEOs and encouraging them to grow their international revenue. Through our investments, we encourage TEOs to increase their international education activities that support their core business – both onshore and offshore. We want to see TEOs working, individually and in collaboration with other TEOs, to:

Centres of Asia-Pacific Excellence

As part of Budget 2016, the Government announced $34.5 million in funding to develop new Centres of Asia-Pacific Excellence (CAPEs) in New Zealand universities as part of the Innovative New Zealand package.

CAPEs will be cross-institutional centres of excellence in the language, culture, politics and economics of the Asia-Pacific region. They will further develop New Zealand’s Asia-Pacific rim knowledge and language skills and facilitate collaboration between TEOs and stakeholders to enhance our partnerships with the region. The TEC is currently working on the design and selection of CAPE providers.