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Improving Access and Opportunity to Tertiary Education in New Zealand Maureen A. McLaughlin 2002 Ian Axford Fellow in Public Policy New Zealand Ministry of Education U.S. Department of Education Fulbright Lecture Victoria University of Wellington 23 July 2002
Summary: Improving Access and Opportunity in New Zealand • Access to tertiary education in NZ, as measured by overall participation, has increased substantially since the mid-1980s. • Significant disparities exist, however, for ethnic groups and for students from low-decile schools. • This opportunity gap means the goal of broadening access has not been solved in NZ. • The current public policy debates on tertiary education in NZ have tended to focus on system direction, the level of financial resources, fees, student support and student debt. While financial resources are obviously important they are not the only factor. • International experience suggests lowering fees alone will not close the opportunity gap. • Student support is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition to improve access and opportunity.
Summary: Improving Access and Opportunity (continued) • Research in NZ and elsewhere suggests that raising expectations and improving academic preparation for students before they enter tertiary education are key policies to close the opportunity gap. • Thus, in NZ, significant differences in academic preparation for ethnic groups and students in low-decile schools must be narrowed before opportunity gaps will be closed.
Outline of Presentation • Defining access and opportunity to tertiary education • Policies put in place since the late 1980s that have affected access and opportunity to tertiary education • Changes in patterns of access and opportunity • By type of tertiary institution • By ethnic group • By socioeconomic status of secondary school attended • The importance of better preparation and raised expectations for students before they enter tertiary education to close opportunity gaps • Strategies New Zealand might undertake to reduce these gaps
I. Defining Access and Opportunity to Tertiary Education • Overall participation in tertiary education is one measure of access. • Opportunity to enroll in all levels of tertiary education and to succeed once there is a broader definition of access. • Achieving similar participation patterns across the different levels of tertiary education for different groups of students would indicate equal opportunities. • Unequal participation patterns signify an opportunity gap. • This does not mean that everyone should attend tertiary education or that everyone should go to a university. • But significant gaps across groups in participation in the different tertiary levels are a real cause for concern.
Why is Improving Access and Closing the Opportunity Gap So Important? • More and more need for tertiary education and lifelong learning in a global economy. • Significant social and economic benefits exist for individuals and for the country. • For example, more participation in tertiary education results in higher earnings, lower unemployment, improved health, and lower crime. • Increasing earnings inequality between less educated and more educated. • Makeup of New Zealand’s population is changing so that groups that currently have lower levels of educational attainment will represent a much larger share of the population in future years.
II. Policies in New Zealand that Affect Access and Opportunity • New Zealand has made many policy changes in tertiary education since the mid-1980s that have contributed to increased participation. • As a result, New Zealand has moved from an elite system with low participation to a mass system with high participation. • Participation increased at the same time that costs for students and families increased. Increased private contributions coupled with a demand-driven system made the expansions possible. This shift in financing runs counter to what some believe--that greater access can best be achieved with free tertiary education. • Changing economic conditions throughout the world motivated New Zealand’s initial changes in tertiary education. Economic factors and New Zealand’s competitive position internationally continue to be important factors in tertiary education policy.
Summary of Policies Since the Mid-1980s that Affected Tertiary Participation • Before the late-1980s, NZ had an elite tertiary system. • Relatively low participation rates • Government paid all or most of the costs • Many market-based policies since the late 1980s have contributed to increased participation rates. • Creation of a demand-driven funding system • Increased private contributions through higher fees • Shift from universal to targeted allowances for living costs • Creation of student loans to help students pay fees and living costs • Many more options for students as polytechnics moved into new areas, private training establishments (PTEs) expanded, and wananga were created
III. Changing Patterns of Access and Opportunity in Tertiary Education • Significantly increased participation since the late 1980s. Three different measures of participation all show big increases • Numbers of students more than doubled • From roughly 120,000 students in 1985 to 282,800 in 2001 • Participation rates increased significantly. Between 1990 and 2001, the proportion enrolled increased • From 20.5 percent to 34.8 percent for 18-24 year olds • From 2.7 percent to 5.9 percent for those over 24 years of age • Percent of students going on to tertiary institutions immediately after leaving school increased • From 39 percent in 1992 to 45.2 percent in 1999 • Data constraints; limited years for comparable data.
Do the Big Increases in Participation Mean that New Zealand has Solved its Tertiary Access Problems? • Some say that the big jump in participation means that New Zealand has solved tertiary access problems: Is this true? • Need to look more carefully at participation patterns: • By type of tertiary education • By ethnic group • By secondary school decile • School decile is a categorization of schools based on the neighborhood in which the school is located. A low-decile school is in a poor neighborhood. • U.S. data indicate that students at high poverty schools--a similar kind of measure to low-decile--are more educationally at risk even if the individual student is not poor.
Participation Patterns of All Students • Number of students more than doubled between 1985 and 2001. Growth occurred both at institutions existing at that time and in newly created or newly eligible institutions. The current distribution of students is quite different from the enrollment mix in the mid-1980s. • In 1985, about half of students were enrolled in universities and half in polytechnics, with 2 percent in colleges of education. • In 2001, students at universities equaled 44% of total enrollments, while students at polytechnics fell to 31%. Students at colleges of education equaled 4%, wananga equaled 4% and PTEs 18%. • The proportion of students going onto tertiary education immediately after leaving school increased from 39 to 45 percent between 1992 and 1999. Two thirds of this increase occurred at PTEs. • Recent growth--between 2000 and 2001--occurred almost entirely in wananga and PTEs (90 percent).
Participation Patterns: What Level of Tertiary Education? • Level of education varies substantially by type of institution: • Universities--most students are at degree or postgraduate level (90 percent). • Polytechnics--spread across the levels--20 percent at degree or postgraduate; 23 percent at diploma; and 56 percent at certificate. • Colleges of education--predominantly in degree and above (68 percent) but 24 percent in diploma and 8 percent in certificate. • Wananga--most students (91 percent) at diploma or certificate level, especially certificate level (81 percent). • PTEs--almost all students (96 percent) are at certificate or diploma level, more heavily certificate (74 percent).
Participation Patterns of Maori Students • In 2001, almost 50,000 Maori students were enrolled in tertiary education, a 60% increase since 1994. • Maori students are much more heavily represented at wananga and PTEs than overall students and significantly underrepresented at universities. • Almost equal numbers of Maori students attend polytechnics and PTEs (in total 56 percent). • Twenty percent of Maori attend university. • Twenty percent of Maori attend wananga. • Almost 3 percent attend colleges of education. • Maori students are disproportionately represented at the lower levels of tertiary education: almost three-quarters of Maori students are enrolled in diploma or certificate programs where enrollments are growing most rapidly.
Where Do Maori Students Go Immediately After Leaving School Compared to Other Students? • Maori school leavers are also much less likely to enroll in tertiary education than other students and are disproportionately represented at the lower levels of tertiary education. • Twenty eight percent of 1999 Maori school leavers go on to a tertiary institution immediately after leaving school compared with 45 percent for all school leavers. • Only 10 percent of all Maori school leavers enroll in a university compared with 25 percent for all school leavers. • An additional 18 percent of Maori enroll in transition programs run by Skill New Zealand compared with 6 percent for all school leavers
Participation Patterns of Pacific Students • In 2001, 12,400 Pacific students were enrolled in tertiary education, slightly more than twice the number enrolled in 1994. • Pacific students are much more heavily represented at PTEs than overall students and are underrepresented at universities. • Thirty one percent of Pacific students attend polytechnics. • Thirty five percent of Pacific attend university. • Twenty five percent of Pacific students attend PTEs. • Three percent of Pacific students attend wananga. • Five percent of Pacific students attend colleges of education.
Where Do Pacific Students Go Immediately After Leaving School Compared to Other Students? • Pacific school leavers are much less likely enroll in tertiary education than other students and are disproportionately represented at the lower levels of tertiary education. • Thirty three percent of 1999 Pacific school leavers go on to a tertiary institution immediately after leaving school compared with 45 percent for all school leavers. • Only 13 percent of all Pacific school leavers enroll in a university compared with 25 percent for all school leavers. • Pacific students are almost twice as likely to enroll in PTEs than other school leavers. • An additional 9 percent of Pacific enroll in transition programs run by Skill New Zealand compared with 6 percent for all school leavers.
Participation Patterns: Where Do Students From Low-Decile Schools Enroll? • Students from low-decile schools are less likely to enroll in tertiary education and are more heavily represented in lower levels of tertiary education than students from high-decile school • Thirty one percent of 1999 school leavers from low-decile schools enrolled in tertiary institutions compared with 54 percent for students from high-decile schools. • Only 12 percent of students in low-decile schools enrolled in universities compared with 44 percent for high-decile schools. • Thirteen percent of low-decile school leavers enrolled in transition programs run by Skill New Zealand compared with 4 percent among high decile students
Participation Patterns: Where Do Students From Middle-Decile Schools Enroll? • Students from middle-decile schools are also less likely to enroll in tertiary education and are more heavily represented in lower levels of tertiary education than students from high-decile schools • Forty-two percent of 1999 school leavers from middle-decile schools enrolled in tertiary institutions compared with 54 percent for students from high-decile schools. • Twenty one percent of students in middle-decile schools enrolled in universities compared with 44 percent for high-decile schools. • Eight percent of middle-decile school leavers enrolled in transition programs run by Skill New Zealand compared with 4 percent among high decile students
Conclusion: There is a Significant Opportunity Gap to Tertiary Education in New Zealand • Significant differences exist in overall tertiary participation rates and in participation across the different levels of tertiary education • Maori and Pacific students are underrepresented in tertiary education, especially at the higher levels of tertiary education. • Students from low- and middle-decile schools are also underrepresented in tertiary education relative to students at high-decile schools, especially at the higher levels of tertiary education.
IV. Improving Academic Preparation and Raising Student Expectations are Key to Closing Equity Gaps • Academic preparation is a key variable in closing the gap in tertiary education. • Research clearly shows the importance of academic preparation. • While individuals from families with lower socioeconomic status (including parental education) are less likely to enroll in tertiary education than individuals with higher socioeconomic status, rigorous secondary school preparation has a positive effect and can substantially narrow the gaps in tertiary participation. • Research based on Christchurch longitudinal data finds academic preparation is an important factor in reducing disparities in tertiary participation. • Studies by Maani and Fergusson/Woodward
Other Research Confirms the Importance of Academic Preparation in Determining Tertiary Success • Many U. S. studies find that academic preparation is a key variable in addressing the opportunity gap. • Academic preparation, especially mathematics, is an important factor in increasing the chance of going onto college and succeeding once there. Algebra and geometry are especially important. • Decisions made in middle school years (ages 12 to 14) about courses and academic performance affect the likelihood of tertiary success. • Recent Australian Study • A recent study found that the strongest influence on tertiary entrance scores in year 12 was literacy and numeracy in year 9, with numeracy having a stronger relationship. • New Zealand’s Competent Children Study • Soon-to-be-published data on competencies of a cohort of children from age 5 to 12 found mathematics, followed by comprehension and literacy, to be most strongly associated with later social and academic competencies.
Academic Preparation: Maori Students • Maori students are much less well prepared academically to enter tertiary education than other students. Among 2001 school leavers, • Seven percent of Maori students had a qualification at the entrance to university level or higher compared with 26 percent for all school leavers. • Thirty three percent of Maori students left school with no qualification compared with 17 percent for all students. • This picture has been unchanged since 1993, first year comparable data are available.
Academic Preparation: Pacific Students • Pacific students are much less well prepared academically to enter tertiary education than other students. Among 2001 school leavers, • Ten percent of Pacific students had a qualification at the entrance to university level or higher compared with 26 percent for all school leavers. • Twenty five percent of Pacific students left school with no qualification compared with 17 percent for all students. • This picture has been unchanged since 1993, first year comparable data are available.
Academic Preparation: Low-Decile Schools • Students attending low-decile secondary schools are much less well prepared academically to enter tertiary education than students from high-decile schools. Among 2001 school leavers, • Ten percent of low-decile students had a qualification at the entrance to university level or higher compared with 42 percent for students at high-decile schools. • Thirty percent of students from low-decile schools left school with no qualification compared with 7 percent for students from high-decile schools. • This picture has not improved in the past few years and may have deteriorated a bit.
Academic Preparation: Middle-Decile Schools • Students attending middle-decile schools are less well prepared academically to enter tertiary education than students from high-decile schools. Among 2001 school leavers, • Twenty one percent of middle-decile students had a qualification at the entrance to university level or higher compared with 42 percent for students at high-decile schools. • Eighteen percent of students from middle-decile schools left school with no qualification compared with 7 percent for students from high-decile schools. • This picture has not improved in recent years and may have deteriorated a bit.
V. Strategies for Closing Opportunity Gaps • As a small country with a strong egalitarian outlook, New Zealand could become an international leader in addressing persistent opportunity gaps. Well-coordinated strategies across educational levels and across policy instruments and a focus on lower decile schools could make a big difference. • Educational levels. This analysis highlights the need for improved academic preparation in secondary schools to close gaps in tertiary opportunities. • Policy instruments. Strategies should include improved academic preparation and expectations, student financing and institutional financing. • Focus on students at lower decile schools. Students at lower decile schools are most in need and include disproportionate numbers of Maori and Pacific students.
A Strategy for Closing the Opportunity Gap Might Include the Following: • Making “Improving Opportunity” a Key Part of Implementation of the Tertiary Strategy • Creating Early Intervention School/Tertiary Partnerships • Providing More Information Earlier • Improving Student Financing for Low-Income Students • Paying Institutions More for Enrolling Targeted Groups of Students • Developing a Strong Research Agenda
Making “Improving Opportunity” a Key Part of Implementation of the Tertiary Strategy • The Government recently released the Tertiary Education Strategy for 2002-2007. • The strategy is the guiding document for the tertiary system for the next five years. • Several of the goals in the strategy relate to access and opportunity. More progress could be made if tertiary opportunity--including the kinds of policy options discussed here--were made a key part of the strategy’s implementation.
Creating Early Intervention School/Tertiary Partnerships • Create partnerships of low-decile schools and tertiary institutions with community and business involvement to work with whole schools or whole grades to improve students’ chances to attend tertiary successfully. • Partnerships and government share the costs through matching funds. • Partnerships start early, at the beginning of secondary schooling, and stay with students through school leaving. • Includes an emphasis on academic preparation, tutoring, mentoring, information on preparation, costs, and student support and, in some cases, scholarships. • U.S. created such a program, Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Placement (GEAR UP), several years ago based on proven models.
Providing More Information Earlier • Provide academic and financial information earlier so that students and families have the full picture of what they need to do at an earlier stage. • This information is especially necessary for students from families with little or no previous exposure to tertiary education. • Information for students in NZ tends to emphasize career options over tertiary information and is provided to students late in their secondary schooling. Information on tertiary institutions is also limited. • Misperceptions about tertiary opportunities, the level of costs, availability of allowances, and student debt are also likely to contribute to the opportunity gap. Research in the US found that perceptions of costs and financial aid were often inaccurate. • Misperceptions can create their own reality.
Improving Student Financing for Low-Income Students • U.S. research shows that price does affect enrollment for low-income students and that financial incentives can influence achievement. • Targeted financial assistance to students would be more effective in addressing the opportunity gap than subsidies provided to all students. • Grants to cover fees for low-income students would complement allowances and could be designed to encourage and reward improved achievement. • Could target grants to students at lower decile schools as part of a focused initiative on schools where academic preparation and income are lowest. • Could further target grants for higher levels of tertiary education and for high-performing students thereby focusing on both financial need and academic preparation. • Could be part of school/tertiary partnerships. • Encourage savings. If savings accounts are established could target financial incentives on students with low family incomes or students at low-decile schools.
Paying Institutions More for Enrolling Targeted Groups of Students • Build a low-income component into institutional funding formulae to provide incentives for institutions to enroll and help students who are most at risk. • The fourth report of the Tertiary Education Advisory Commission identified a need to provide incentives to providers relating to particular types of learners. They proposed a Learner Add-on and a Learner Index to provide some additional funding for additional costs incurred with some students. • Funding could also come through early intervention school/tertiary partnerships.
Developing a Strong Research Agenda • Data and policy studies using data are essential for good policy making, program design, and implementation. Use data to inform decisions. • Have used U.S. research to complement New Zealand’s analysis and data. More in-depth research on New Zealand’s experiences would be particularly helpful in designing effective policies to reflect New Zealand’s unique characteristics. • Longitudinal data on a cohort of students beginning when they are in school though tertiary completion and into the labor market or graduate school are essential. • Develop research agenda for tertiary education to examine issues of access and equity, including the effects of fees, loans, student expectations and academic preparation. • Build evaluation into all initiatives from the beginning.
Conclusion • Tertiary participation in New Zealand still needs attention, in particular the opportunity gap. • Access to tertiary education, as measured by overall participation, has improved in New Zealand since the mid-1980s. • Opportunity gaps, as measured by disparities in tertiary participation for ethnic groups and students from low-decile schools, are significant. • Coordinated policies and early intervention in low-decile secondary schools could make NZ a leader in improving access through reduced opportunity gaps.