Topic: Education

Study confirms value of university education

By Online News - Rereātea

A new study confirms the value of a New Zealand university degree in preparing students for their lives and careers.

The independent study conducted by eight of New Zealand's universities who come under Universities New Zealand, was carried out two years after the graduates finished university. 

The study revealed that they were highly satisfied with their lives, had good incomes after two years in the workforce and only 2.7% were unemployed. 

The findings come from the Graduate Longitudinal Study New Zealand (GLSNZ) - a survey of nearly 9000 students from all eight New Zealand universities who graduated in 2011.

The students were first surveyed in 2011 and were then resurveyed again two years later. It is intended that the students will be surveyed again at least twice more to cover the first ten years of their lives following graduation.

Chris Whelan, Executive Director of Universities New Zealand, says the Graduate Longitudinal Study New Zealand is thought to be the most comprehensive study of graduate outcomes in the world.

“This study is important because it helps us to understand the impact of a university education by tracking and exploring how our graduates fare. Not only does it look at their careers and employment, which are important measures of success, but it also takes a more holistic look at their lifestyle, development, health and well-being.

The data show that graduates are good citizens who make a tangible contribution to New Zealand economically. The vast majority are employed, pay taxes, are repaying their loans, and are healthy. They also make an important social contribution to New Zealand through involvement in their communities. And they are more likely to get out there and vote," Whelan says. 

Key findings of the survey include:

- Two years after graduation, almost 80% of the graduates said that getting a degree had been worth the effort, time and cost involved.

- After just two years in the workforce, their median income was $40-50,000 per annum; this compared well with the median income of all those in paid employment of $44,668pa, and with those in the 25 to 29 age group of $37,440pa, as at 2014.

- Though three-quarters had taken out a student loan, the median loan debt was relatively low at $10-15,000.

- The graduates had high degree completion rates - 97% had completed the qualification they were studying towards in 2011, and others were still on track to complete it.

- Graduates ranked the benefits of a university education in the following order: personal development, obtaining employment, and career development.

- Only 2.7% of graduates were unemployed, compared with a national average of 5.7% in 2014. 81% were in employment with the remainder being either enrolled in further tertiary study, travelling or living overseas, parenting/caregiving, or they were international students who had returned home.

- 71% said their knowledge and skills were well utilised in their work.

- 64% were satisfied or very satisfied with their current work; 72% said they would probably or definitely continue this work for the next 3 years.

- 89% described their health as good or better (ie 28.4% good; 40% very good; and 20.6% excellent).

- Over half were active in their communities through a sports group, hobby or leisure club and 34% belonged to a charitable organisation or group.

- 84% voted in the national elections, compared with a national average of 77.9%.

Overall graduates expressed high levels of satisfaction with their lives following university, and expected to be even more satisfied with their lives in 10 years’ time.

Chris Whelan says, “The results are very positive given that the graduates are just two years out from university, are still establishing their careers and lives, and, in many cases, are still paying off student loans.”