High tertiary enrolment despite low financial rewards
The report says, based on 2011 graduation figures, that 55% of young New Zealanders can expect to gain a university education – well above the OECD average of 39%. A further 35% are expected to obtain a vocational qualification, against the OECD average of 14%.
But, unlike most OECD countries, gender differences have favoured New Zealand women at this level of education across the generations. In 2011, among the older generation, of 55- to 64-year-olds, men’s tertiary attainment rate was 29%, eight percentage points lower than that of women (at 37%). For younger adults, of 25-34, the difference was even larger, with 41% of men attaining tertiary education versus 51% of women.
But the report notes New Zealanders with a tertiary education do not enjoy a much greater income than those with only an upper secondary qualification. In fact, the advantage is just 18%, compared to the OECD average of 57%.
New Zealand’s high proportion of international students attracts the OECD’s attention; they account for 16% of all enrolments, the fourth highest percentage in the OECD and well above the average of 7%.
Yet the country’s annual per-student spending on tertiary education, at US$10,418, is well below the OECD average of US$13,528.