Education is seen as having a significant benefit; not only to the individual who receives it, but to society as a whole. It is considered to contribute to economic growth, reduce inequality, and aid both social and personal development.[1] The result of this is the need to fund education in a manner which allows each and every individual to have the opportunity to participate, at all levels.

With regard to this, in New Zealand people have a right to free primary and secondary education in public schools, as allowed by the Education Act 1989.[2] Tertiary education, meanwhile, is not free of charge.

Funding is made available for tertiary education, and appears to be based on the specific goals which the government has with regards to higher learning. Two specific goals noted within the Tertiary Education Strategy 2010 – 2015 are; “increasing the number of young people (aged under 25) achieving qualifications at levels four and above, particularly degrees” and “increasing the number of young people moving successfully from school into tertiary education.”[3] As such, for these priorities to be achieved, funding must be directed at young people (under 25 year olds), in the manner which is considered most appropriate to achieve these priorities. The way in which this is currently being done is through the financial support which is available to school leavers partaking in tertiary study, aged between 16 and 24; through subsidised tertiary institutions, student allowances and student loans.

This research looks at whether the current methods of government funding are the most effective (ie. economically efficient, equitable and administratively simplistic) means of achieving the government’s tertiary education priorities surrounding young people achieving tertiary qualifications.

[1] Strategy and System Performance Group, “Indicators Live: Education at a Glance 2009, Results for New Zealand,” Ministry of Education, http://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/publications/schooling/56219/2 (accessed 04/08/2010):1.

[2] Education Act 1989 (NZ).s3. http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1989/0080/latest/DLM175959.html (accessed 28/08/2010).

[3] Ministry of Education, “The Tertiary Education Strategy 2010 – 2015,” Ministry of Education, http://www.tec.govt.nz/Tertiary-Sector/Tertiary-Education-Strategy/ (accessed 30/08/2010:10).