2011 Performance

Universities

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
  • Undertake research that adds to the store of knowledge
  • Provide a wide range of research-led degree and postgraduate education that is of an international standard
  • Act as sources of critical thinking and intellectual talent
  • Enable a wide range of students to successfully complete degree and postgraduate qualifications
  • Undertake internationally recognised original research
  • Create and share new knowledge that contributes to New Zealand’s economic and social development and environmental management

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.

University highlights

In 2011 university sector highlights included:

University performance

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.

Operating environment

In 2011 universities generally delivered well against agreed 2011 Investment Plan commitments. Key factors affecting their operating environment included:

Participation

In 2011 universities provided tertiary education to 156,522 students or 117,928 equivalent full-time students (EFTS) a two percent decrease in EFTS and students compared with 2010. There were 14,300 full-fee-paying international EFTS enrolled across the university sector.6 In 2011, there were 2,504 international PhD EFTS (3,325 international students) enrolled under the domestic fees policy.
Figure 16: University enrolments, 2008–2011
Figure 16: University enrolments, 2008–2011

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.

Figure 17: University enrolments by NZQF level, 2008–2011
Figure 17: University enrolments by NZQF level, 2008–2011

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.

Figure 18: University enrolments by ethnicity, 2008–2011
Figure 18: University enrolments by ethnicity, 2008–2011
Note:
Total may exceed total EFTS or 100% as some students identify with more than one ethnicity.

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.

Figure 19: University enrolments by subject, 2010 and 2011
Figure 19: University enrolments by subject, 2010 and 2011

Performance against TES priorities

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.

Figure 20: University participation and achievement, 2010 and 2011
Figure 20: University participation and achievement, 2010 and 2011

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.

Figure 21: University participation and achievement by students under 25 years, 2010 and 2011
Figure 21: University participation and achievement by students under 25 years, 2010 and 2011

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.

Figure 22: University enrolments by NZQF level by Māori students, 2008 and 2011
Figure 22: University enrolments by New Zealand Qualifications Framework level by Māori students, 2008 and 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.

Figure 23: University participation and achievement by Māori students, 2010 and 2011
Figure 23: University participation and achievement by Māori students, 2010 and 2011

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.

Figure 24: University participation and achievement by Pasifika students, 2010 and 2011
Figure 24: University participation and achievement by Pasifika students, 2010 and 2011

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

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.

Table 4: Overview of university sector financial performance
Key performance metrics 2009 2010 2011 TEC minimum
guidelines
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%
Liquid funds 21.7% 22.4% 23.5% 8.0%
3-Year average return on property, plant equipment and intangibles 6.0% 6.1% 6.5% 4.5%
Summary financial statements
(NZ$000)
2009 2010 2011 % of 2011
category
Revenue:        
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%
Total revenue $2,961,654 $3,130,556 $3,226,420 100%
Assets:        
Property, plant equipment and intangibles $5,961,986 $6,112,711 $6,220,126 88%
Other assets $844,186 $888,379 $836,251 12%
Total Assets $6,806,172 $7,001,090 $7,056,377 100%
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.

Figure 25: Total university government funding by type, 2011
Figure 25: Total university government funding by type, 2011

Universities’ future focus

In 2012 universities are expected to focus on the following key areas to support TES priorities:

6This is the number of international EFTS that were required to pay full fees and excludes PhD students or postgraduate students on scholarships who are not required to pay fees.