2021 enrolment data: University of Waikato community larger and more diverse

The University of Waikato has seen a 9.7% increase in student numbers compared to this time last year, equivalent to 736 full-time students.

18 Mar 2021

The number of new to degree students (largely school leavers) enrolled at the University of Waikato has grown by 27.4% compared to the same time last year, and the University has also seen a 19.8% increase in students who have transferred from other tertiary institutions.




New students welcomed with a pōwhiri at the University of Waikato Hamilton campus.

University of Waikato Vice-Chancellor, Professor Neil Quigley, says that while all tertiary institutions have experienced growth in enrolments with school leavers staying in New Zealand and people looking to tertiary study to create alternative career paths in a post-Covid environment, the dramatic increase in enrolments at Waikato reflects growing recognition of the quality and diversity of the programmes offered, and the unique appeal of its Hamilton and Tauranga campuses.


The largest increases in total enrolments are in Education, Law, Engineering, Māori and Indigenous Studies, Health, Psychology, Science, Management and Marketing. The growth in enrolments partly reflects the success of new programme offerings, with Waikato’s first intake of students into its new Bachelor of Nursing programme and a fast track graduate programme specially designed for skilled workers to gain a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) in two years instead of four.

Māori and Pacific students now make up 35.2% of the University of Waikato student body, the highest proportion of all New Zealand universities. Full time equivalent Māori student numbers have increased by 300, and Pacific student numbers have increased by 90, compared to the same time last year. This means that the absolute numbers and percentage of Māori and Pacific students at the University of Waikato have increased annually for the last five years.

“We are proud to be attracting the largest proportion of Māori and Pacific students of any New Zealand university. For the last five years we have had a strategy of investment in providing an academically and culturally supportive environment, and promoting participation through schemes such as our heavily subsidised inter-regional bus transport. These strategies have ensured that regional students, many of whom are first in their family to come to university, can successfully complete degrees while commuting from their home towns,” says Professor Quigley.

Waikato Students’ Union President, Kyla Campbell-Kamariera, adds that it is positive that the University continues to attract and retain Māori and Pacific students.

“Tauira Māori enrol at Waikato for many reasons, including the diverse range of subjects offered that are practical and future-focused, and the easygoing and culturally rich environments of the Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions. They want to know that they can carve their own path toward a career post-university, and with a high quality Waikato degree they can definitely achieve that.

“Waikato has also shown students that it stands apart from others when it comes to resilience and forward movement through the disruption of Covid-19, and the personal approach taken to continue to offer tauira nuances of normality in a totally unpredictable global environment,” she says.

Despite the growth in total domestic enrolments, the University still faces a significant net reduction in revenue due to the border restrictions on international students.

“Like all New Zealand universities, we will feel the full effects of a downturn in international enrolments associated with Covid-19 border closures in 2021, so we still expect to have an operating deficit for this year” says Professor Quigley.

University of Waikato 2021 enrolments

  • Total domestic EFTS: 8,359
  • Hamilton EFTS: 7,420
  • Tauranga EFTS: 939
  • Māori EFTS: 2,218
  • Pacific EFTS: 723
  • International EFTS (on-shore): 724



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