1. Introduction

1.1 Background

A key priority of the Goverment’s Tertiary Education Strategy 2010–2015 is increasing the number of Māori students enjoying success at higher levels of study with a core focus on the need for the tertiary sector to lift its performance for Māori learners. This priority responds to continuing disparities in educational outcomes for Māori learners relative to non-Māori/non-Pasifika students, particularly at higher levels.

This is an important focus as while Māori have increased participation in tertiary education in recent years, the rates of participation in higher study and success show inequities between Māori and non-Māori.

In 2011, of those students aged 24 years and under, 15% of Māori participated in tertiary education at Level 4 and higher, compared with 23% of Europeans (Ministry of Education, 2012). Māori are less likely to hold a bachelors degree or higher qualification than Europeans and people in the ‘Other’ ethnic group, with 8.1% of Māori with a bachelors degree or higher qualification in 2010 (MOE, 2011).

Similarly for the 17% of Māori enrolled in industry training in 2010, enrolments have been heavily weighted to Levels 1–3 – approximately 72% (MOE, 2012).

New performance targets for tertiary education
​organisations in 2013

In 2013, the TEC sought to drive higher levels of achievement for Māori through Investment Plan performance commitments made by tertiary education organisations (TEOs) across the sector. ‘Stretch targets’ were developed to focus TEOs on addressing parity of participation and achievement.

The TEC’s focus for participation is for the proportion of equivalent fulltime students/trainees to be at least on par with the proportion of Māori and Pasifika within the relevant population/workforce at both lower and higher levels of study, and therefore overall.

For achievement, the TEC will expect all providers to reach parity of completion rates for Māori and Pasifika with learners of ‘Other’ ethnicities enrolled with the provider at both lower and higher levels of study, and therefore overall.

Literature review and indicators

The TEC commissioned this literature review and the development of draft indicators resulting from the literature to inform and guide an understanding of what TEOs can be doing to raise performance for Māori learners.

The project was governed, managed and contributed to by the Principal Advisor and Senior Advisor, Māori, the TEC Tertiary Education Strategy Priorities, and by the Principal Advisor and Senior Advisor, the TEC Evidence and Analysis. A senior advisory representative from the Tertiary Education Group, MOE, also contributed to the project. This ensured that the review aligned with the TEC’s business needs, and also contributed strong and diverse insights to the project including kaupapa Māori research and Māori learner-centred approaches.

These key elements are identified as fundamental and therefore, presumably, are necessary to foster successful Māori learner participation, retention and course and qualification completion.

It is intended that the literature review and resulting indicators will be used to inform both the TEC and TEOs of what works for Māori learners in tertiary settings and what TEOs need to do (or not do) to better serve Māori learners and communities.