R&D grants and innovation news – More engineering and ICT students at universities

Steven Joyce

4 AUGUST, 2016

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Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce has today welcomed figures that show a greater proportion of domestic degree-level students are enrolling in qualifications in STEM-related subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths).

A report released today, What are they doing? The field of study of domestic students/learners analyses the fields of study of domestic students in the New Zealand tertiary education system over the past eight years.

“The report shows there are more people enrolling and studying in qualifications for in-demand occupations that help strengthen and diversify New Zealand’s economy,” Mr Joyce says. “The Tertiary Education Strategy 2014-2019 set a target to prioritise getting industries the skills they need, this shows the tertiary sector is delivering.”

Last year students enrolled in engineering and related technologies at bachelors level or higher reached an all-time high of over 11,500, an increase of more than 3,500 or 44 per cent from 2008. In 2015, engineering students represented 6.5 per cent of all students studying at that level, up from 4.9 per cent in 2008.

The number of students enrolled in information technology at bachelors level or higher last year has increased by 33 per cent since 2008 to reach 11,360. This represented 6.4 per cent of students studying at that level in 2015, up from 5.3 per cent in 2008.

Health studies at bachelors level and above also increased, from 15 per cent of enrolments in 2008, to 18 per cent in 2015. There were 32,700 students studying in health disciplines in 2015.

“It’s great to see so many students engaged in areas where they’re likely to head into a solid, well-paying career where demand is high and likely to continue to grow.”

“We have re-balanced tuition subsidies to more accurately reflect the costs of provision, and that has encouraged universities to invest in growing places in some of these more expensive subject areas.  On top of that, better and more accurate careers information is encouraging young people to choose these subjects.

Below bachelors degree level, there was an increase in the number of enrolments in the field of architecture and building. Between 2011 and 2015, the number of domestic students enrolled in Level 3 to 7 certificates/diplomas increased by 25 per cent to reach over 25,500.  At Level 1 and 2, there was an increase of 59 per cent in enrolments in mixed field programmes, between 2011 and 2015.

“At the vocational level, the numbers reflect the emphasis we are placing on growing construction and infrastructure to meet the needs of New Zealand’s record building boom.  At foundation Levels 1 and 2, the subject trends are responding to our deliberate focus on building literacy/numeracy and foundation skills, especially within the Youth Guarantee fees-free programme and second-chance learners.

“We need these trends to continue so we better match New Zealanders’ skill mix with the emerging needs of our industries.”