Universities are a vital part of modern society. They are important for teaching, research and the advancement of society as a whole. Universities engage with a range of stakeholders to promote learning and to disseminate and apply knowledge. With a focus on research excellence, universities play an important role in the economic transformation and development of New Zealand.
Universities are repositories of knowledge and expertise. They focus on advanced learning with the principal aim of developing intellectual independence and strengthening research outcomes. New Zealand universities’ teaching and research foster international connectedness and provide global learning opportunities for local and overseas students.
Eight universities across New Zealand deliver an extensive range of degree and postgraduate programmes, and some sub-degree programmes.
The Tertiary Education Strategy (TES) defines the core roles and expectations for universities as:
In 2011 universities received $1.4 billion – 52 percent of total government funding for tertiary education organisations
|Core roles||Government expectations|
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Universities contribute to TES priorities by:
Universities’ Investment Plans for 2011–13 aim to fulfil these roles and expectations with special emphasis on lifting course and qualification completions and other achievement rates, especially among the priority groups of Māori, Pasifika and those aged under 25 years.
In 2011 university sector highlights included:
Overall, the university sector was again high-performing in 2011. Universities received the highest proportion of the government’s total spending on tertiary education organisations: $1.4 billion or 52 percent in 2011. This increased from 50 percent of tertiary funding the previous year.
The university sector performed strongly in 2011, with the highest average rate of successful course completions of all tertiary education sectors. Research performance as measured by the allocation of the Performance-Based Research Fund (PBRF) again exceeded other sectors, with 97 percent going to universities.
In 2011 universities generally delivered well against agreed 2011 Investment Plan commitments. Key factors affecting their operating environment included:
In line with TES priorities, higher-level enrolments continued to increase across the university sector in 2011
The lower volume of enrolments (down by 3,023 EFTS) in 2011 compared with 2010 is largely attributable to fewer enrolments across NZQF Levels 7–8 (3,029 EFTS, down 3%) and Levels 5–6 (851 EFTS, down 25%). Over the same period, there was an increase in Levels 9–10 Master’s and doctoral enrolments (up from 11,360 EFTS in 2010 to 11,884 EFTS in 2011). These shifts are in line with TES priorities and reflect the university sector’s continued emphasis on increasing participation at higher levels, especially postgraduate study.
In 2011 almost all university enrolments were in degree-level programmes and above (95% of overall provision). The university sector contributed 80 percent of all enrolments at degree level and above across all tertiary sectors in 2011. This proportion has decreased by two percentage points since 2010, due to increased enrolments at higher levels of study at other tertiary institutions. Due to the merger of Lincoln University with Telford Rural Polytechnic, the university sector recorded some provision (less than 1% of the national total) at Levels 1–2 in 2011, whereas there was almost none at these levels in previous years.
Māori enrolments decreased slightly (by 41 EFTS) in 2011. Because this reduction was smaller than for the student population overall, the share of Māori students at universities rose from nine percent in 2010 to ten percent in 2011. Pasifika students remained at six percent of the university population, while the volume of Pasifika enrolments decreased by 183 EFTS.
Society and Culture (29%) and Management and Commerce (15%) were the fields of study with the largest proportions of enrolments, but each decreased as a share of total delivery by one percentage point compared with 2010. Natural and Physical Sciences accounted for 14 percent of total delivery in 2011 (up by one percentage point). Agriculture, Environmental and Related Studies accounted for a small share of enrolments in 2011 (2%), but experienced the largest enrolment increase, with an extra 970 EFTS delivered in 2011 due to the merger of Telford Rural Polytechnic with Lincoln University.
Average educational performance by the universities improved in successful course completions (up from 84% in 2010 to 86% in 2011) and qualification completions (up from 67% to 75%), but decreased significantly for student progression within Levels 1–4 (down from 75% to 40%). The decrease can be attributed to the merger of Telford Rural Polytechnic and Lincoln University and the resulting significant increase in delivery at Levels 1–2, which the university sector had not traditionally delivered.
In 2011, average course and qualification completion rates increased across the university sector
Achievement by all students and the TES priority groups (Māori, Pasifika and students under the age of 25) strengthened in 2011 across the university sector; however, with the exception of retention and course completions by youth, all three of these groups performed at a lower level than university students on average.
TES Priority: Increasing the number of young people (aged under 25) achieving qualifications at Level 4 and above, particularly degrees
In 2011, universities continued to attract the largest share of students under 25 years of age, with this group accounting for 72 percent of university enrolments. Almost all youth enrolments were at degree level and above (96%) with proportions mainly unchanged from 2010. Youth achievement remained strong in 2011, with increases in successful course completions (up from 85% in 2010 to 86% in 2011) and qualification completions (up from 62% to 68%). Student retention dropped slightly due to lower participation across the sector (85% to 84%), while the drop in student progression within Levels 1–4 (87% to 58%) was largely due to the enrolments at Levels 1–2 as a result of the merger of Telford Rural Polytechnic with Lincoln University.
Almost all youth enrolments in the universities are at Levels 4 and above. Whilst the number of youth enrolments decreased in 2011 (by 1,490 EFTS or 2%), this decrease was largely across Levels 5–6 diplomas and graduate certificates (down by 478 EFTS or 24%) and Levels 7–8 degrees and postgraduate study (down by 1,067 EFTS or 1%). However, youth achievement at Levels 4 and above across the university sector improved in both course completions (up from 85% in 2010 to 86% in 2011) and qualification completions (up from 62% to 68%).
TES Priority: Increasing the number of Māori students enjoying success at higher levels
In 2011 Māori enrolments showed a marginal decrease of 41 EFTS but increased as a proportion of total university enrolments (from 9% to 10%). The distribution of Māori enrolments across the levels of study remained very similar to 2010. The merger of Telford Rural Polytechnic with Lincoln University brought 88 new Māori EFTS enrolled at Levels 1–2 in 2011.
Māori participation and achievement increased across the university sector
Educational achievement by Māori students continued to strengthen in 2011. Successful course completions increased from 78 percent to 80 percent, contributing to the improved qualification completion rate (up from 55% in 2010 to 62% in 2011). However, student retention and student progression decreased over the same period, which was attributable both to the lower student participation and increased delivery at lower levels following the Lincoln and Telford merger.
TES Priority: Increasing the number of Pasifika students achieving at higher levels
Pasifika participation remained stable at six percent of total enrolments, the same as 2010, although there was a decrease in Pasifika EFTS of two percent (183 EFTS). The distribution of Pasifika students across the levels of study was also very similar to 2010, with the vast majority (91%) studying at Levels 7–8.
Average Pasifika educational achievement remained low in 2011 but improved compared with 2010. Successful course completions increased from 69 percent to 71 percent and qualification completions increased from 48 percent to 54 percent. Pasifika student progression rose from 79 percent to 80 percent in 2011, contrary to the trend among other university students. This is mainly attributable to the decreased enrolments at Levels 3–4 (down from 421 EFTS in 2010 to 350 EFTS in 2011), and only seven EFTS delivered at Levels 1–2.
TES Priority: Strengthening research outcomes
The university sector produced 3,452 research degree completions and generated $407.2 million in external research income
Funding for the PBRF is allocated according to three elements: quality evaluation, research degree completions and external research income. Universities received 97 percent of the available PBRF funding in 2011.
The university sector’s research degree completions rose from 2,919 (95%) of the national total in 2010 to 3,452 out of a total 3,543 (97%) in 2011. The sector generated $407.2 million in external research income (ERI) in 2011, an increase of almost $7 million from 2010 and 99 percent of the total.
Universities received $33.2 million in funding for the eight Centres of Research Excellence in 2011 and $870,000 in continued funding for Partnerships for Excellence projects.
Financial performance across the university sector met TEC’s recommended three percent surplus (after unusual and non-recurring items). In 2011 the sector achieved an overall net surplus of 4.1 percent, unchanged from 2010. Total operating revenues increased 3.1 percent ($95.9 million), mainly from total government revenue (especially SAC funding), student tuition fees and other income (including research). Total operating expenses increased 3.8 percent ($113.5 million), predominantly from personnel costs. The sector’s reported performance was influenced by a net $21.5 million from earthquake-related insurance revenues exceeding related expenses. University balance sheets remained strong, with increased liquidity and increased investment in campus facilities.
|Key performance metrics||2009||2010||2011|| TEC minimum |
|Net surplus (after unusual and non-recurring items)||3.4%||4.1%||4.1%||3.0%|
|Net cashflow from operations||117.2%||116.6%||115.9%||111.0%|
|3-Year average return on property, plant equipment and intangibles||6.0%||6.1%||6.5%||4.5%|
| Summary financial statements |
|2009||2010||2011|| % of 2011 |
|Total government revenue||$1,297,321||$1,344,780||$1,403,568||44%|
|Domestic student fees||$517,820||$559,708||$565,257||18%|
|International student fees||$256,673||$277,951||$287,723||9%|
|Other income (including research)||$889,840||$948,117||$969,873||30%|
|Property, plant equipment and intangibles||$5,961,986||$6,112,711||$6,220,126||88%|
|Equity (net assets)||$5,738,091||$5,886,263||$5,871,739|
Of the government funding allocated by TEC, 79 percent ($1.1 billion) was for Teaching and Learning, and 20 percent ($276.7 million) for Research.
In 2012 universities are expected to focus on the following key areas to support TES priorities: