Maori and Tertiary Education

NZPA reports:

Party co-leader Pita Sharples wants universities to consider open entry for Maori students.

He said in a speech last night had the lowest rate of progression from school to tertiary education of any ethnic group.

His actual speech is here. He also notes, correctly, that:

participation in tertiary education is higher than for any other ethnic group – and that is something to celebrate.


This graph (from here) shows very clearly that since 1999 the tertiary participation rate has been higehr for than non-Maori. In fact the rate if 50% higher for Maori than European.

Now Dr Sharples also said:

But – and it’s a big qualifier – much of this participation is at levels one to three on the National Qualifications Framework. All of us know the benefits of a bachelor level qualification – the second challenge, therefore, must be how to boost participation for to higher levels of study.


Now Dr Sharples is right that participation is very high at Levels 1 – 3. But as we can see Maori have a higher participation rate than non Maori at Levels 4 to 7 Certificates and Diplomas also. And even at Bachelors level the Maori rate is around 75% to 80% of the European rate.

Personally I think too many people are going to university rather than other forms of tertiary education. I would not hold up a Bachelors degree as the holy grail for tertary education.

Dr Sharples also said:

Thirdly, I want to suggest a quantum leap could be achieved, if Victoria were to consider the following:

– Open entry for students. We have seen how the dice are loaded against Maori, right through the school system. That is not any reflection on the academic potential of our young people. Reserved places for Maori have proven the ability of Maori to rise to the challenge if they are given the opportunity.

This makes me wonder what the completion rate is. And yes that has a graph also.


And as we can see here the completion rate for is above average for Certificate and Diplomas but a lot lower for Bachelors. This to me suggests that open entry for Maori students would not by itself improve outcomes – it would probably just lower the completion rate even more. The key to improving the university participation rate for Maori, would in my opinion improve educational outcomes at secondary school.

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