6. Strategic Context

6.1 Economic impact

According to an independent report published by consulting economist Dr Warren Hughes in April 2009, The University of Waikato: Regional & NZ Economic Impacts for 2008, the University of Waikato was one of the Waikato region’s main drivers of economic prosperity in 2008, as well as being a significant contributor to the New Zealand economy. More specifically

  • University of Waikato operations together with the expenditures of its students generated $749 million - or 3% - of the Core Waikato 1 region’s annual revenue
  • this revenue impact rises to nearly $913 million - or 0.4% - for the New Zealand economy as a whole
  • the University directly and indirectly accounts for over 5,600 jobs in the Waikato Regional Council economy 2 (3.3% of total Waikato employment)
  • the University accounts for 5% of economic activity in the Core Waikato economy
  • every dollar generated by the University resulted in $1.21 of flow-on revenue across the Core Waikato economy
  • every job at the University generates another job in New Zealand, with two-thirds of these flow-on jobs located in the Core Waikato economy
  • students spent an estimated $166.59 million in Core Waikato
  • in Tauranga, the University’s 1,711 students spent an estimated $10 million, generating 125 jobs.

(Hughes, 2009)

6.2 Regional demographics

Recent figures indicate that approximately 16% of New Zealand’s total population resides in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions 3 (Statistics New Zealand, 2009), which comprise the University’s main catchment area.

76% of the University’s domestic students typically come from this main catchment area. A further 13% of domestic students are actively recruited from the University’s inner and outer peripheries - that is, the wider region that includes Northland, Taumarunui, Hawkes Bay and Gisborne.

According to the 2006 New Zealand census, 15% of New Zealand’s population were Māori at that time. The comparative figure for the University’s main catchment area was 24% (Statistics New Zealand, 2009). In 2010, 22% of domestic students at the University of Waikato identified as Māori.

While almost 22% of New Zealand’s population nationwide is under 15 years of age, approximately 35% of Māori are under 15 years of age; the figures relating to the University’s main catchment areas are very similar (Statistics New Zealand, 2009). In the longer-term, New Zealand’s Māori population is projected to increase at a higher rate than the European/Pakeha population, nationally as well as in the University’s main catchment (Statistics New Zealand, 2009). This means that the University of Waikato will continue to have an extremely important role to play in supporting Government’s tertiary education priorities with respect to Māori, especially in terms of fostering secondary/tertiary pathways as well as staircasing and articulation arrangements with other parts of the tertiary sector and improving retention and pass rates.

While the population of the University’s main catchment area is expected to grow by approximately 4% over the next four years, the number of 18 year-olds is expected to decrease slightly; nationally the number of 18 year-olds is expected to decrease by 6% over the next four years (Statistics New Zealand, 2009). This means that school-leaver numbers may decrease. However, enrolments at university are not necessarily expected to decrease to the same extent (if at all), because of a number of current trends: students are staying longer at school due to limited employment opportunities (Smart, 2009), increased numbers of students are attaining the university entrance standard (Loader & Dalgety, 2008) and the rate of transition from secondary to tertiary education has been increasing markedly over the last eight years (Ministry of Education, 2009).

The University of Waikato is already taking account of the likely impact of the population and related demographic factors outlined above. In summary, even though numbers of young people are projected to decline slightly, the recent recession is likely to have an ongoing positive impact on secondary school retention rates and, in turn, the flow through to tertiary study.

6.3 A changing economic and political environment

Overall demand for tertiary education has been increasing steadily over the past decade (Ministry of Education, 2010a), with enrolments exceeding the government-funded baseline in 2009. The Ministry of Education forecasts that demand will continue to increase until 2011, and then start to decrease towards 2009 levels over the following two to three years. The increase in demand has been driven by the impact of the recent recession, demographic changes in the youth age group and an increase in the proportion of secondary school students achieving university entrance through NCEA (Ministry of Education, 2010b).

The recession had an impact on unemployment; rates for people without tertiary qualifications increased significantly during 2008 and 2009. Unemployment rates remain relatively higher than before the recession, especially for young people (Department of Labour, 2010).

While the demand for tertiary education has increased, government funding continues to be limited. The University of Waikato carried a number of unfunded domestic students in 2010 (1.7% in SAC funding terms), and continues to manage its enrolments very carefully within the threshold expected by Government. Strategies to manage student enrolments take account of the pipeline effect of over-enrolment in 2009, while ensuring a strong and positive intake of new students. Student re-entry is being managed more tightly to ensure that high academic standards are maintained. As well as applying robust academic criteria, the University gives priority to particular student groups, in line with Government’s tertiary education priorities. The University of Waikato gives priority to school-leavers who have achieved the university entrance standard through NCEA (or the equivalent standard through CIE or IB examinations), along with postgraduate students and students wishing to transfer to the University from partner institutions within its regional network of provision (see section 6.5).

Given the tight fiscal environment, Government is seeking to improve value for its investment in tertiary education. Performance-linked funding is a means to this end, and in 2010 the TEC published TEI rankings against a framework of Educational Performance Indicators; these indicators will form the basis for performance-linked funding from 2012. While the University performed well against these indicators, it has identified strategies and initiatives to enhance its performance even further, most of which are outlined in its Teaching and Learning Plan.

6.4 The secondary/tertiary interface

In 2010 almost 50% of the University’s new domestic students were school-leavers (1,307 students). These students came from approximately 200 schools across New Zealand, with the majority from the North Island. 70% of the University’s new domestic school-leavers in 2010 came from schools in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty, with 15 secondary schools contributing almost 50% of its total new domestic school-leavers.

The University provides a range of orientation programmes for new students. These include information sessions at secondary schools, secondary school visits to campus, sessions on campus targeted at students from outside the Waikato region to give them an opportunity to meet other students from their region before commencing study and Faculty-based subject-specific sessions for potential students wishing to explore subject areas and offerings.

The University continued to have a high profile in secondary schools in the University’s wider region and regularly visited schools to give presentations to Year 11, 12 and 13 students (including some presentations in te reo Māori). The University also hosted regional information evenings and attended careers expos throughout the North Island.

The 2010 University of Waikato Open Day was held in April and was attended by approximately 4,000 secondary school students, teachers, parents and visitors from across the North Island. The University also hosted a ‘Year 10 Experience Day’ in November, which was attended by almost 400 students from 12 invited secondary schools.

The University of Waikato offers a number of programmes to teachers that promote and foster the successful transition of secondary school students to tertiary study. ‘Update days’ were held this year on campus and in Auckland for secondary school teachers, to present them with information about research developments and other academic matters.

A well-established Secondary Tertiary Alignment Resource (STAR) programme offered secondary school students the opportunity, while still at school, either to advance beyond the secondary school curriculum in particular subjects, or to undertake study in a subject that was not offered as part of the secondary school curriculum. In 2010, 189 secondary school students enrolled for University of Waikato STAR papers. Students who have successfully completed a STAR paper at secondary school receive credit towards their university studies.

The Faculty of Education has been successful in securing funding for professional development contracts, and delivers educational leadership and teacher development programmes across its region. School Support Services, for example, provides teacher support and guidance by facilitating teacher development in schools throughout the Waikato, Hauraki, Coromandel, King Country, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, Wairoa and East Coast regions. The Educational Leadership Centre caters for the diverse needs of many groups of educational leaders through activities based on sound research and development practices that are developed in consultation with the client group so that specific needs are met.

One of the Faculty of Education’s specific programmes, Kotahitanga (‘Improving the Educational Achievement of Māori Students in Mainstream Education’), is a research and professional development project that has seen major improvements in student outcomes in participating secondary schools, and now involves 49 schools around New Zealand, hundreds of teachers and thousands of Māori students.

Academic staff of the University serve as judges of a number of secondary school competitions, including national Kapa Haka and speech competitions. In addition, the Faculty of Law holds an annual secondary schools mooting competition, which is well subscribed by secondary schools across the greater North Island region.

The University continued with its prestigious Hillary Scholarships programme. These scholarships, offered since 2005, are awarded to high achievers who show leadership qualities and also excel in sport or in the creative and performing arts. The programme includes comprehensive support for the recipient’s academic, sporting and/or arts activities, and additional support in leadership and personal development. 50 new Hillary Scholarships were awarded in 2010, bringing the total to 268 students since 2005.

In addition to the University’s School-Leaver scholarships, which in 2010 were awarded to 531 recipients, the University also continued to offer a programme of other scholarships and prizes, including the high-profile Vice-Chancellor’s Prize for Academic Excellence, which in 2010 was awarded to 19 secondary school students nominated by their principals.

6.5 University relationships within a regional network of provision

The University recognises the benefits of a differentiated system of tertiary education in New Zealand, in which universities and polytechnics have distinctive but complementary contributions to make to the delivery and support of relevant, quality, tertiary provision.

The University of Waikato has long established partnerships with both the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic and the Waikato Institute of Technology (Wintec), and has negotiated with both polytechnics a variety of contract teaching, articulation and other types of arrangements for staircasing into higher level tertiary qualifications. During 2010, the University’s deed of cooperation with the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic was extended to include Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi, with a view to expanding and further strengthening tertiary education provision in the Bay of Plenty region.

The University of Waikato Certificate of University Preparation was delivered in 2010 in conjunction with Wintec as a pathway for students who have failed to meet the University Entrance criteria through NCEA. This programme also serves as a bridging programme for other students who wish to be better prepared for higher level study at University. 338 students enrolled for this programme in the A semester 2010; of the students who successfully completed the programme, 82% took up degree level study in the B semester.

In 2010, 45 students transferred from the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic into higher level qualifications at the University of Waikato, and 78 students transferred to the University from Wintec.

The University of Waikato also has a long history of collaboration with Tairawhiti Polytechnic, with which it offers a number of papers through articulation and contract teaching arrangements.

6.6 The Western Bay of Plenty

The Western Bay of Plenty region has identified nine economic challenges and impediments to economic growth, five of which relate directly to skills, training and education. One of those challenges is the advancement of strong relationships with tertiary education and research institutions, not only to provide direct training for those employed in key regional industries but, more importantly, to provide the intellectual input to drive innovation and entrepreneurialism. These are the cornerstones of new product development, efficiency and ‘value-added’ productivity (Priority One, 2008).

Statistics show that the Western Bay of Plenty population is close to the national average in terms of educational and vocational qualifications but that it lags behind the national average in terms of tertiary qualifications. The 2006 census indicates that only 8.2% of those living in the Western Bay of Plenty have achieved qualifications at bachelors level or higher; this is substantially lower than the national rate of 14.2% (Statistics New Zealand, 2009). The low rate of university education impacts on the region’s skill shortages and, in turn, the region’s ability to support its economic growth.

The University of Waikato remains committed to expanding tertiary provision in the Western Bay of Plenty region and, in conjunction with the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic, has continued to expand its teaching and research activities in the region in order to meet the demonstrated needs associated with the economic transformation of that region.

With strong support from Priority One, the Western Bay of Plenty region’s economic development agency, the University of Waikato has actively and successfully advocated increased government investment in tertiary provision in the Bay. Over recent years, University of Waikato numbers in the Western Bay of Plenty have grown steadily from 244 EFTS in 2005 to 550 EFTS (including 37 FCI EFTS in the Pathways College) in 2010.

6.7 Relevance of qualifications and graduate outcomes

A report published by the Ministry of Education, Outcomes of the New Zealand tertiary education system, provides evidence of the pivotal role played by the New Zealand tertiary education system in the economic growth of New Zealand (Smart, 2006). Economic growth depends on labour productivity; labour productivity depends on high employment. Tertiary qualifications enhance the employment prospects of New Zealanders; attainment of tertiary qualifications also results in higher incomes and, in turn, healthier lifestyles.

The University undertakes regular reviews of existing qualifications and programmes to ensure that they continue to meet the needs of industry and maintain their relevance for students. Quality improvement initiatives are based on the analysis of data and information supplemented by occasional reports from internal and external participants as part of a series of institutional programme reviews, institutional organisational reviews and other periodic evaluations conducted by the University or, in some cases, by professional bodies for the purpose of accreditation.

In 2010, the University implemented 10 Significant Academic Developments (approved by the NZVCC Committee on University Academic Programmes (CUAP)), seven of which involved changes to existing qualifications, with a further proposal involving changes to entry requirements. Two new qualifications were introduced: the Bachelor of Environmental Planning and Bachelor of Media and Creative Technologies. In addition, a range of further Significant Academic Developments were developed and put forward for consideration by the NZVCC CUAP for implementation in 2011; these included the introduction of four new majors, amendments to the regulations of three existing qualifications and the deletion of five subjects.

Data which suggest links between qualifications, employment and income levels, are helpful to the University in identifying and responding to student and market signals and monitoring their particular impact on employment outcomes. With this in mind, the University is participating in a university sector-wide project involving a longitudinal study called the GLSNZ (Graduate Longitudinal Study New Zealand). The results of the study will help the University develop its understanding of how outcomes are changing for graduates over time and better inform future direction and recruitment activities.

6.8 The University budget and capped funding

In budgeting for a 2010 surplus, the University took careful account of the likely challenges ahead in terms of increasing revenue in a capped funding environment and adjusting its costs to match the expected fall in student-related revenue.

Government’s tertiary funding reforms, which took effect in 2008, impacted on the University of Waikato at a time when its enrolments were still recovering from an earlier decline. Having peaked at 11,575 in 2003, the University’s total EFTS had declined to 9,685 by 2008. While the most severe decline during that period was related to FCI enrolments (consistent with national trends at that time), MF enrolments also declined, a trend that had started in 1999.

MF enrolments had begun to recover in 2007 and, by the end of 2009, were well beyond the 2003 levels. The value of the University’s MF enrolments in 2009 exceeded the TEC’s funding cap by over 6%, representing a government funding shortfall of approximately $3.4 million. While FCI EFTS were higher in 2009 than originally forecast, they were still far short of 2003/2004 levels.

Consistent with the terms of its Investment Plan funding and the TEC’s expectations, the University took a number of steps in 2010 to manage its MF enrolments very carefully within a 103% threshold. However, this meant that a significant number of potentially eligible applicants had to be turned away.

Its final MF EFTS result represented 101.7% of its approved SAC funding for 2010 (an additional 154 EFTS); $500k revenue was generated by these additional students; they represented a Government funding shortfall of approximately $1 million.

2010 FCI EFTS were steady in relation to 2009. While efforts continue to be made to increase the University’s revenue stream related to international enrolments, especially given the capped funding environment, the University did not achieve its FCI enrolment target, which resulted in a revenue shortfall of approximately $1.8 million in 2010.

The whole tertiary sector faces the prospect of ongoing constraints in government funding and so the University will continue with an approach that involves managing costs, constantly seeking efficiency gains and exploring additional sources of revenue, while ensuring that its investments in future capability are well informed, prioritised and targeted.

An organisation restructure was initiated in 2009 and continued through to the end of 2010. A number of cost management initiatives were agreed in 2009 and fully implemented in 2010, resulting in a healthy surplus.

6.9 Research

The University of Waikato has established research priorities and goals that reflect the importance that Government is placing on science and innovation to drive economic growth and to improve health, environmental and social outcomes. In so doing it has sought to maintain and build relationships with Government agencies, industry and other organisations to support the growth of research and economic development opportunities.

In 2010 the University of Waikato attracted $22.8 million through new research contracts (to be realised over the life of the contracts), bringing the number of active contracts including ancillary contracts to 782. The Faculty of Education leads research income followed by the Faculties of Science and Engineering, Computing and Mathematical Sciences, and Arts and Social Sciences.

Work continued to identify new Institutes, Centres, Groups and Units where inter-institutional research collaborations can be supported, and two new Institutes were launched. The National Institute of Demographic and Economic Analysis (NIDEA) will give policymakers a better understanding of the issues surrounding an ageing and increasingly diverse population, and the Institute for Business Research will provide smooth access to research expertise from the University’s internationally-accredited Waikato Management School.

Preparation also began for the 2011 launch of the Environmental Research Institute, which will encompass the University’s internationally-recognised expertise in ecosystems, and Te Kotahi Research Institute, which will develop research relevant to Māori economic development and well-being in consultation with iwi.

Other highlights of 2010 included the establishment and launch of Intercoast, a major research collaboration between the University of Waikato and Germany’s University of Bremen focussing on projects on the Bay of Plenty coast and inner continental shelf and comparable areas in the North Sea. Over nine years Intercoast will be supported with $11 million of German government funding through the German Research Foundation, the DFG.

The University’s ability to deliver research and other benefits in the Western Bay of Plenty has also been advanced with the funding of a new Chair in Coastal Science with $1.5 million from the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, the opening of a new building on the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic’s campus, agreements with the Port of Tauranga and Priority One, and a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with TiDA, the Titanium Industry Development Association based in Tauranga.

New agreements with the District Health Boards in Waikato and Bay of Plenty involving both research and education, and a new MoU signed with the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic and District Health Board have served to support a notable growth in research capability and degree teaching in relation to health and ancillary services.

Other notable initiatives have been undertaken with funding from the World Bank and the Amsterdam Institute for Business and Economic Research, and an MoU signed with the Cawthron Institute.

Research grants, postgraduate scholarships and research-related donations were received from a total of 76 organisations external to the University in 2010. This represents further progress in the ongoing diversification of sources of research support, and a further increase in inter-institutional and international research collaborations.

New research wins of particular note included $5.5 million of Marsden funding for nine separate projects in the fields of science, business, psychology, social science and demographics.

The University’s Faculty of Education was awarded a $7 million Ministry of Education contract in partnership with Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi to undertake a three-year professional leadership programme, He Kākano, for secondary and area schools and wharekura to help build Māori learners’ achievement.

The Waikato Centre for Advanced Materials was awarded a $1.07 million Foundation for Research, Science and Technology research contract to enhance the titanium alloy powder consolidation capabilities of New Zealand industry.

The University also continued to spearhead research commercialisation through the ongoing activities of WaikatoLink, and to play a significant role in the Waikato Innovation Park, which creates wealth for the region through nurturing innovative local companies and marketing specialist knowledge and expertise.

New models of research are seeing the growth of international multi-disciplinary teams. Specialist expertise from the University of Waikato continues to be in demand for international research in multi-disciplinary areas ranging from climate change to digital systems, and from demography to socio-economic development being undertaken in geographically diverse areas such as Antarctica, the Pacific, South America and Europe.

2010 saw the University hosting a number of national and international conferences, notably in the fields of education, business sustainability and computer networking.

The University has continued to support initiatives aimed at increasing the proportion of research postgraduate students and supervision-active staff, and enhancing postgraduate outcomes. The University now has over 600 candidates enrolled for higher degrees (MPhil and doctorates). More than 10% of these candidates took the opportunity to present their research to the public at the second annual ‘Thesis in Three’ competition during Postgraduate Research Month in October, and our 2009 winner was a finalist in the inaugural Australasian Three Minute Thesis competition held in Brisbane in 2010.

  1. Core Waikato is defined as Hamilton, Cambridge, Te Awamutu, Huntly and Ngaruawahia
  2. Waikato Regional Council economy is based on the nine District Councils (Thames-Coromandel to Waitomo and Taupo regions) surrounding and including Hamilton City
  3. The Waikato region is defined as comprising the districts of Waikato and Waikato South, Franklin, Thames-Coromandel, Hauraki, Waipa, Otorohanga, Matamata/Piako, Waitomo and part of Rotorua and Taupo. The Bay of Plenty region is defined as comprising Western Bay of Plenty, Whakatane, Opotiki, and part of Rotorua and Taupo

<< 5. Strategic Planning and Performance Monitoring and Reporting Table of contents 7. 2010 Student and Academic Profile >>

In New Zealand



+64 7 856 2889