Tertiary education choices of school leavers

Tertiary education choices of school leavers (pdf)
01 Jan 1970
Tertiary education choices of school leavers (doc)
01 Jan 1970

Participation in tertiary education is a natural progression for many school leavers, whether it is to study for a degree at university or to undertake training as part of a Modern Apprenticeship. Given the benefits to society and individuals of tertiary education and the greater success of students who engage in tertiary education soon after leaving school, effective and appropriate transitions between school and tertiary education are an important part of a well-functioning education system.

This report is the first of a series of analyses based on a longitudinal unit-record level dataset which follows a student through their accumulation of National Qualifications Framework (NQF) credits in senior secondary school and into tertiary education


The purpose of this report is to build an understanding of how school leavers are transitioning into tertiary education.  The report examines the transitions of 2004 school leavers into tertiary education by a variety of personal, schooling and tertiary education characteristics and seeks to show where differences exist.

Key Results

The results of this study are consistent with previous research that has shown that academic achievement while at secondary school is a strong predictor of whether a school leaver will transition into bachelors-level study.  However, transition into industry training and non-degree study at tertiary education providers were not strongly associated with academic achievement at secondary school and hence appear to have a different set of influences.

Around thirteen percent of 2004 school leavers transitioned into industry training by the end of 2006, including four percent into the Modern Apprenticeships Programme.

Bachelors-level study was the most popular level of study among 2004 school leavers.  However, one-fifth of 2004 school leavers had transitioned into level one to three certificate study by the end of 2006, which is the same level of study that is undertaken at senior secondary school.

Māori and Pasifika school leavers transitioned into bachelors-level study at a lower rate than European and Asian school leavers.  This difference was reduced once the effects of highest school qualification were taken into account but still remained to some extent.

Page last modified: 15 Mar 2018