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September 8, 2008 | by  | in News |
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MSD report notes decreasing tertiary enrolments, closing gender gap

A report from the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) has highlighted several changes in the demographics of tertiary education, such as a continuing decline in tertiary education enrolments and a narrowing of the gender gap.

The Social Report 2008, a MSD report commissioned to “provide information on the social health and wellbeing of New Zealand society,” noted that 13.3% of people aged 15 or older enrolled in formal tertiary education during 2007. This was a decrease from 2006, when 13.6% of over-15s enrolled – also a “slight fall” from 2005.

However, the report stated that the decrease in enrolments may be due to funding policy changes in 2005 aimed at reducing poor quality qualifications. The report also noted that most of the decrease came from sub-degree qualifications, with degree and postgraduate enrolments having remained steady at “around 5 per cent” from 1999 to 2007.

The report also observed that the tertiary education gap between males and females had narrowed: 12% more females than males enrolled in tertiary education in 2007, down from 12.5% in 2006 and 19.4% in 2005. This was due to a decline in female enrolments in sub-degree courses, with males and females sharing the same level of participation (9.6%) at a sub-degree level.

The report noted the difficulty of measuring tertiary education participation across OECD countries, with “no robust measures” being available for analysis.

However, using the proportion of 20-29 year olds enrolled in diploma and degree courses as an indicator of relative performance, the report ranked New Zealand seventh out of 28 countries, with a participation rate of 30% – above the USA (23%) and Great Britain (29%), but below Australia (33%).

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