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The NZ University System

Universities are a vital part of modern society and are important not just for teaching but also for research and the development of society as a whole.  As centres of research excellence they play an important role in economic transformation and development.

Under Section 162 of the Education Act (1989) a university is defined as having the following characteristics:

(i) They are primarily concerned with more advanced learning, the principal aim being to develop intellectual independence:

(ii) Their research and teaching are closely interdependent and most of their teaching is done by people who are active in advancing knowledge:

(iii) They meet international standards of research and teaching:

(iv) They are a repository of knowledge and expertise: and

(v) They accept a role as critic and conscience of society. 

Universities help society by increasing the skills and knowledge base and in the acquisition of the skills necessary for the professions such as medicine, law and engineering.

As institutions of higher learning, universities are involved not only in the basic skills needed in the profession but also in what can be called basic life skills – analysis, flexible thinking, communication, adaptation and innovation.

That is, universities don’t just train, they educate. Universities also enhance society through their contribution to our understanding of social issues and our achievement of social, economic and physical well-being.


NZ Universities

There are eight universities in New Zealand, offering a wide range of tertiary education.  They are:

• Auckland University of Technology

• Lincoln University

• Massey University

• University of Auckland

• University of Canterbury

• University of Otago

• University of Waikato

• Victoria University of Wellington

 

Further details of the courses available from each university can be found on each university’s website.

The eight universities in New Zealand teach approximately 180,000 students (part and full-time) and employ around 19,500 staff.

Student numbers are usually counted in terms of Equivalent Full-Time Students (EFTS).  A breakdown of the full-time equivalent (FTE) staff and EFTS in universities for 2014 was:  

University

 Students (EFTS)

      Staff (FTE)

Auckland

33,468

4,943

Auckland University of Technology   

19,582

2,204

Waikato

9,904

1,483

Massey

18,680

3,013

Victoria

16,901

1,990

Canterbury

11,943

1,886

Lincoln

2,985

659

Otago

18,830

3,788

 TOTAL

132,297

19,966

Source: university annual reports

Funding

The New Zealand universities receive approximately 40% of their annual income from government grants - $1.4 billion of the combined total income of $3.5 billion recorded in 2013.  The remaining income is split evenly between student fees and other sources – principally research contracts and trading income.  Nearly 60% of the sector’s expenditure of $3.3 billion went on staff salaries and related costs.


Research

The universities play a prominent part in the New Zealand research environment, a role in keeping with their statutory obligations.  Under the Education Act (section 162) the research and teaching functions of universities are required to be closely interdependent and they are expected to meet international standards of research.

The biennial Research and Development Survey, last conducted in 2014 by Statistics New Zealand and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, showed that the universities accounted for one-third of the research and development produced in this country.

 Sector

 $M (2011)

 Percent

 Business

1246

46 

 Government

622

23 

 Universities

817

31

 TOTAL

2685

 100

Source: 2014 R&D Survey

In addition, the universities are home to the majority of the country’s researchers, as the following figures from the 2012 survey show:

 Occupation

 Total FTEs

 University

 University FTEs as %

 Researchers

11,000 

3,100

28 

 Student researchers

11,900

11,900

100 

 Total researchers

  23,000 

15,000 

65 

 Technicians

4,500

760 

17 

 Support staff

2,600

1,000 

38 

 TOTAL

30,000

16,700 

56 

Source:  2014 R&D Survey

All of the universities have established commercialisation entities to capitalise on the fast-growing research outputs of the universities.  These activities are worth around $350 million a year.

Last modified: July 14th, 2015