2013 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 Government expectations for universities as:

Core roles Government expectations
  • Undertake research that adds to the store of knowledge
  • Provide a wide range of research-led degree and post-graduate 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 post-graduate 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 2013-14 aim to fulfil these roles and expectations, with special emphasis on lifting course and qualification completions and other achievement rates, especially among the TES priority groups of Māori, Pasifika and those aged under 25 years.

University highlights

In 2013 university sector highlights included:

University performanceTop

Universities received the highest proportion of the Government’s total spending on tertiary education organisations: $1.45 billion or 53 percent in 2013. Overall, the university sector continued to strengthen its performance in 2013. Improved overall successful qualification completion and student retention rates translated to improvements across youth, Māori and Pasifika student groups. 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

Universities provided tertiary education to 153,014 students or 116,660 EFTS

Key factors affecting the universities’ operating environment and delivering to 2013 Investment Plan commitments, included:

Participation

In 2013 universities provided tertiary education to 153,014 students or 116,660 equivalent full-time students (EFTS). There were 10,787 full-fee paying international EFTS (15,678 students) enrolled across the university sector,4 and 2,482 international PhD EFTS (3,027 international students) enrolled under the domestic fees policy (see figure 16).
Figure 16: University enrolments, 2010–2013
Figure 16: University enrolments, 2010-2013

While 2013 saw a drop in overall enrolments (1,830 EFTS, 2,516 students) university participation continued to reflect the focus towards graduate-level study with 79 percent of all degree level and above enrolments contributed by the university sector. Participation across the qualifications showed increases in enrolments across Level 3–4 (103 EFTS) and Levels 9–10 (16 EFTS) and decreases at Levels 5–6 and 7–8 (see figure 17). Enrolments at Levels 1–2 also decreased, by 319 EFTS, as a result of Lincoln University strategically withdrawing from delivering at lower levels.

Figure 17: University enrolments by NZQF level, 2010–13
Figure 17: University enrolments by NZQF level, 2010-13

Pasifika enrolments increased to seven percent of the university population

Across the ethnicities Māori enrolments remained at 10 percent of total university enrolments. Pasifika students increased to seven percent of the university population, with the volume of Pasifika enrolments increasing by 323 EFTS.

Figure 18: University enrolments by ethnicity, 2010–13
Figure 18: University enrolments by ethnicity, 2010-13 Note:
Total may exceed total EFTS or 100 percent, as some students identify with more than one ethnicity.

The mix of enrolments across the subject areas remained steady in 2013. Society and Culture (28%), Management and Commerce (15%), and Natural and Physical Sciences (14%) were the fields of study with the largest proportions of enrolments. The largest increases were in Health (by 424 EFTS), and Natural and Physical Sciences (by 276 EFTS).

Figure 19: University enrolments by subject, 2012 and 2013
Figure 19: University enrolments by subject, 2012 and 2013

Performance against TES priorities

Average educational performance by the universities improved in terms of qualification completion (from 80% in 2012 to 81% in 2013) and student retention (from 82% to 84%). Course completion remained at the same level (86%) as in the previous two years, which was the highest rate of any sector. Student progression within Levels 1–4 decreased from 62 percent in 2012 to 49 percent in 2013 but this can be attributed to the withdrawal of Lincoln University from delivery at Levels 1–2.

Achievement by all students and the TES priority groups remained steady compared with the previous year. In general, course completion rates remained at similar levels to the previous year while student retention and qualification completion rates increased across each group (see figure 20).

Universities continued to attract the largest share of students under 25 years of age, accounting for 74 percent of all university enrolments

Figure 20: University participation and achievement, 2012 and 2013
Figure 20: University participation and achievement, 2012 and 2013

TES Priority: Increasing the number of young people (aged under 25) achieving qualifications at Level 4 and above, particularly degrees

In 2013 universities continued to attract the largest share of students under 25 years of age, accounting for 74 percent of all university enrolments. Almost all youth enrolments were at degree level and above (97%), with proportions mainly unchanged over the past two years (see figure 21).

Overall, the number of youth enrolments increased in 2013 (by 172 EFTS) and continued to emphasise the higher- level enrolment trend for youth across universities. Enrolment across degree- and postgraduate-level study increased in 2013 (Level 7 and above up by 395 EFTS) and, in line with expectations, the number of enrolments decreased at Levels 1–2 (by 135 EFTS) and Levels 5–6 (by 178 EFTS). However, there was a small increase in participation at Levels 3–4 of 91 EFTS.

Figure 21: University participation and achievement by students under 25 years, 2012 and 2013
Figure 21: University participation and achievement by students under 25 years, 2012 and 2013

Youth achievement remained steady in 2013, with increases for course completions, qualification completions and student retention remaining at 2012 levels. Student progression decreased from 2012 levels (75%) to 67 percent. Youth achievement at Level 4 and above across the sector also either improved or remained steady across each of the educational performance indicators (EPIs).

TES Priority: Increasing the number of Māori students enjoying success at higher levels

In 2013 Māori enrolments continued to account for 10 percent of all university enrolments, while the volume dropped slightly by 125 EFTS. The distribution of Māori enrolments saw an increase in the number of enrolments at Levels 3–6 of 34 EFTS and a decrease at Levels 1–2 (87 EFTS) and Levels 7–8 (73 EFTS).

Figure 22: University enrolments by NZQF level by Māori students, 2010–13
Figure 22: University enrolments by NZQF level by Māori students, 2010-13

Educational achievement by Māori students continued to strengthen in 2013, while remaining below the university sector averages for all students and under-25-year-olds. There were increases for qualification completion rates (from 68% in 2012 to 71% in 2013) and student retention (from 75% to 77%). Course completions remained at the same level (80%) as in the previous year, while student progression decreased (from 61% in 2012 to 44% in 2013).

Figure 23: University participation and achievement by Māori students, 2012 and 2013
Figure 23: University participation and achievement by Māori students, 2012 and 2013

TES Priority: Increasing the number of Pasifika students achieving at higher levels

Pasifika student enrolments increased in 2013 (by 323 EFTS) increasing the rate of participation to seven percent of total enrolments. The distribution of Pasifika students across the levels of study remained similar to 2012, with the majority of the increase evident at Levels 7–8, which accounted for 87 percent of all Pasifika enrolments.

Average Pasifika educational achievement showed a slight change from 2012. While course and qualification completion and student progression showed a slight decrease, Pasfika student retention slightly increased (from 76 per cent to 77 percent).

Figure 24: University participation and achievement by Pasifika students, 2012 and 2013
Figure 24: University participation and achievement by Pasifika students, 2012 and 2013

TES Priority: Strengthening research outcomes

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 2013.

The university sector achieved 3,789 research degree completions, which was 95 percent of the total 3,974

The university sector achieved 3,789 research degree completions, which was 95 percent of the total 3,974. The sector generated $396.6 million in external research income in 2013, more than 99 percent of the total.

Financial performance

In 2013 total revenue increased by $78.6 million, driven by increases in Government funding ($18.2 million) and student fees ($38.5 million). The university sector net surplus after unusual items increased significantly, by $158 million, owing to unusual income items for the University of Canterbury and Lincoln University of $83.2 million, compared to unusual expenditure items in 2012 of $60 million.

Total operating expenses increased by $56 million, reflecting increases in non-personnel expenditure. Across the sector total assets increased by $305 million (4.3%) largely owing to increases in the value of property, plant and equipment.

Table 5: Overview of university sector financial performance
Key performance metrics 2011 2012 2013 TEC minimum
guidelines
Net surplus (after unusual and non-recurring items) 4.0% 1.4% 6.1% 3.0%
Net cashflow from operations 116.7% 115.7% 116.2% 111.0%
Liquid funds 12.4% 18.1% 12.2% 8.0%
Three-year average return on property, plant, equipment and intangibles 6.5% 6.9% 7.1% 4.5%
Summary financial statements
(NZ$000)
2011 2012 2013 % of 2013
​category
Revenue:        
Total Government revenue $1,403,568 $1,412,886 $1,448,545 43%
Domestic student fees $565,257 $591,567 $613,145 18%
International student fees $287,723 $306,700 $323,667 10%
Other income
(including research)
$967,744 $967,601 $984,462 29%
Total revenue $3,224,291 $3,278,754 $3,369,819  
Assets:        
Property, plant, equipment and intangibles $6,200,180 $6,269,649 $6,489,803 87%
Other assets $836,252 $888,747 $973,879 13%
Total assets $7,036,432 $7,158,396 $7,463,682 100%
Equity (net assets) $5,851,794 $5,888,794 $6,249,047  

Universities received around half of total Government funding for tertiary education organisations in 2013 ($1.4 billion, 53%). Of the Government funding allocated by the TEC, 79 percent ($1.1 billion) was for Teaching and Learning and 19 percent ($276.2 million) was for Research.

Figure 25: Total university government funding by type, 2013
Figure 25: Total university government funding by type, 2013

Future focus for universitiesTop

In 2014 universities expect to focus on the following key areas to support TES priorities:

4This 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.