3. Māori learner transitions to tertiary education

3.1 Introduction

An important focus

Increasing the number of young Māori transitioning successfully to vocational training and tertiary education is a key focus for the TEC and is identified as critical to New Zealand’s future workforce needs.

Increasing the number of young Māori transitioning successfully to vocational training and tertiary education is a key focus for the TEC and is identified as critical to New Zealand’s future workforce needs.

Focusing on successful Māori learner transitions into tertiary education is also critical with 22.2% of rangatahi aged 15–24 years not in education, employment, or training as at September 2011. Moreover, while Māori now participate in tertiary education at a much higher rate than non-Māori, this is at non-degree level.1  Less than a quarter (23.4%) of Māori school leavers left school with a university entrance standard in 2011,2  significantly impacting on the number of rangatahi able to enter and successfully complete higher levels of study post-secondary school.

What encourages / discourages Māori learner participation?Top

There is a limited focus in the literature on factors specifically encouraging or inhibiting Māori learners’ participation in tertiary education. Where this is discussed, the main barriers outlined relate to geographical inaccessibility of TEOs, student fees and a reluctance to incur student loan debt, a lack of role models, and tertiary education not being seen as a relevant option (Akroyd, Knox and Sloane, 2009; Wiseley, 2009).

There is more discussion in the literature about factors enabling participation, as these are entwined within the research on enablers and barriers to Māori learner success. These are:

To what extent these factors affect younger and older Māori learners similarly or differently is not explored in the literature. This would be an important focus for future research examining Māori learner participation, particularly given the high number of young Māori who are not in education, employment, or training, and the government’s priority focus on younger learners transitioning to tertiary education.

Summary of the literatureTop

There is an absence in the literature of studies examining initiatives between TEOs and community agencies or iwi to transition Māori learners into tertiary education.

The table on the following page identifies the main body of recent literature that has informed this section of this review about Māori learner transitions to tertiary education. The following observations are made from the discussion of the literature:

The table identifies the main body of recent literature that has informed this section of this review about Māori learner transitions to tertiary education.

Title

Data source

Curtis et al. (2012)
Tātou Tātou/Success For All: Improving Māori student success
In-depth engagement with 41 Māori learners to explore Māori learners experiences in health programmes at the University of Auckland
Greenwood and Te Aika (2008)
Hei Tauira: Teaching and Learning for Success for Māori in Tertiary Settings
Extensive in-depth engagement with over 100 participants representing four different programmes delivered in different institutions across New Zealand (two polytechnics, a university and a wānanga)
Henley (2009)
Te Wero, the challenge: Providing Students from Ethnic Minorities with Culturally Appropriate Learning Support during Their First Year of Tertiary Study
The focus of the study is one university's equity-based tutorial programme. It is one study that specifically identifies outcomes of such tutorials for learners, though Māori and Pasifika data is combined
Kāhui Tautoko Consulting Ltd (2012a)
Māori learners in workplace settings – (unpublished report for the Industry Training Federation of New Zealand)
Extensive engagement across three regions with stakeholders and teaching staff and with 34 Māori learners to understand Māori learners’ experiences in workplace settings/apprenticeships
Kopu, B. (2010a)
Supporting Youth Transitions
(Mayor’s Taskforce for Jobs)
Extensive qualitative engagement with 270 young people aged 15-24 years in school, alternative education, training, unemployment and employment and with 18 providers across New Zealand (but not exclusively Māori learners’ / providers’ experiences)
Madjar et al. (2010)
Stumbling blocks or stepping stones? Students’ experiences of transition from low-mid decile schools to university (Starpath Project, University of Auckland)
Longitudinal research with 44 students (17 Māori) transitioning from school to university and involving multiple student interviews but not exclusively Māori learners’ experiences
Ross (2009)
Culturally relevant peer support for Māori and Pasifika student engagement, retention and success
Ninety-one Māori first-year learners were surveyed about their peer support experiences. Findings were analysed alongside feedback from mentors. While the study examined both Māori and Pasifika students’ experiences, these are separately reported
Tahau-Hodges (2010)
Kaiako Pono: Mentoring for Māori Learners in the Tertiary Sector
Onsite interviews with 21 tertiary education institutions; the majority of which were with Māori support staff, some management and some learners
Taurere, M. (2010)
Advocates for Māori students: The role of careers advisors? (Doctoral thesis, University of Auckland)
Informed by the author’s own development of a university equity initiative to engage Māori learners in secondary school and in-depth interviews with five school career counsellors known to have engaged in the initiative
Te Puni Kōkiri (2012a)
Māori Youth Transitions
Summary of a monitoring report based on 88 interviews (including rangatahi and whānau) to review three state sector programmes/ services aimed at improving the transition from secondary to tertiary
Wikaire, E & Ratima, M (2011)
Māori participation in the physiotherapy workforce
Ten key informant interviews and specific to Māori learners in tertiary and the physiotherapy discipline

Three transitional stagesTop

The three stages of the transition process are interconnected, as the barriers, enablers or opportunities encountered at each stage can influence subsequent experiences.

This section reviews the literature in relation to three transitional stages: Māori learners in secondary school; experiences post-school and during TEO enrolment; and first semester experiences of the TEO. These three stages are identified by Madjar et al. (2010) in what appears to be the only recent longitudinal research following the experiences of learners from secondary school to tertiary education. That study involved 17 Māori learners, as well as learners from other ethnicities.

Nevertheless, central themes have emerged from across the different studies to provide consistent insights into key barriers and enablers across each of these three stages of educational transition largely told from Māori learners’ perspectives and experiences.

The literature has been reviewed from the perspective of TEOs’ role in influencing Māori learners’ successful transitions to tertiary education. However, it is acknowledged that there are other influences operating beyond the control of TEOs that may impact on TEOs’ effectiveness. Examples include decisions by secondary schools about the extent of involvement with TEOs, or the nature and extent of initiatives and activities occurring in schools and impacting on learners’ decision-making.

Common barriers, enablers and opportunitiesTop

The three stages of the transition process are interconnected, as the barriers, enablers or opportunities encountered at each stage can influence subsequent experiences. For example, if a learner is ‘lost’ and unguided or unassisted at enrolment, this can result in inappropriate course decisions that impact on first year progress, as well as influence perceptions of the institution as an unwelcoming place.

In addition, there are common barriers identified across the three stages that negatively impact on Māori learners’ successful transitions to tertiary education. These relate to Māori learners lacking:

There are also key common enablers or opportunities facilitating successful transitions across the three transition stages. These relate to Māori learners:

The diagram on the following page presents a summary of the key barriers and enablers, as well as key opportunities identified in the literature. This sets the scene for the remaining focus of this section on Māori learner transitions.

1www.educationcounts.govt.nz/indicators/main/student-engagement-participation/1963
2www.educationcounts.govt.nz/indicators/main/education-and-learning-outcomes/1891