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Enriching Knowledge and Understanding

The creation, maintenance and dissemination of knowledge through research and teaching is critical to a university’s mission. Through the teaching of undergraduate and postgraduate students, the nurturing of academic disciplines and through the research output of academic staff, New Zealand universities help create, maintain and disseminate knowledge across a wide variety of fields of study. In addition to a strong commitment to science, technology, engineering, health, agriculture and the built and natural environment, New Zealand’s universities enrich social and cultural understanding through research and through teaching and learning in the arts, humanities and social sciences. University-level education and research makes a long-lasting contribution to society and cultural understanding, benefitting both the individual and the country as a whole.

Some key facts

  • 173,880 total students. 1
  • 132,915 full-time equivalent students (EFTS).2
  • 30% of students (51,575) are studying at postgraduate level. 1
  • 146,190 domestic students and 27,690 international students.1
  • 16,775 Māori students (11% of domestic students) and 11,970 Pasifika students (8% of domestic students). 3
  • 43,000 graduates annually - 90% at bachelor’s degree level or above. 4
  • 88% of New Zealanders with a degree or higher qualification have high levels of satisfaction with life compared with 83% of those with lower level qualifications and 77% of those with no qualifications. Degree holders also have higher levels of trust, a greater sense of purpose, better self-rated health and are more accepting of diversity. 5
  • Apprximately $960m spent by universities on research annually.  6
  • Universities drive 67% of all of NZ’s basic research expenditure and 26% of applied research expenditure. 6
  • Home to around 27,000 researchers - 70% of all of New Zealand’s researchers (including postgraduate research students). 6
  • The stock of all knowledge generated by NZ universities, and adopted across the wider economy, accounts for around 9% of GDP. 7

Related news

 Want to know more?

[1] Education Counts, Tertiary Statistics. ENR.10 “Domestic and international students by qualification level and sub-sector 2008-2016”. 2016 data. Updated September 2017.

[2] Education Counts, Tertiary Statistics. EFT.14 “Domestic and international equivalent full-time student units (EFTS) by qualification level, sub-sector and study type 2008-2016”. 2016 data. Updated September 2017.

[3] Education Counts, Tertiary Statistics. ENR.11 “Domestic students by sub-sector, ethnic group and qualification level 2008-2016”. 2016 data. Updated September 2017.

[4] Education Counts, Tertiary Statistics. COM.9 “Domestic and international students completing qualifications by qualification level and sub-sector 2008-2016”. 2016 data. Updated September 2017.

[5] Statistics New Zealand, 2015. “New Zealand General Social Survey: 2014”. Table 6: Selected NZGSS measures by highest qualification, April 2014-March 2015.

[6] Statistics New Zealand, 2017. “Research and Development Survey: 2016”. 

[7] NZIER report to Universities New Zealand – Te Pōkai Tara, 2016. “Economic impact of universities: An analysis of the contribution of New Zealand universities to economic activity”.

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