Student thinking3

Learning from 55 students and experts what it’s like to enter tertiary education

Learning from 55 students and experts what it’s like to enter tertiary education

Last updated 2 July 2018
Last updated 2 July 2018

To better understand the tertiary education landscape we and the Service Innovation Lab completed a ‘prediscovery sprint’ to identify two things: what people found challenging, and what opportunities lay in the experience of entering or re-entering the tertiary education system.

As one of government’s key education agencies we have a significant stake in exploring what government agencies can do to support our stakeholders now and in the future. Our agency invests over $3 billion in tertiary education and to support the tertiary and career system.

The tertiary education system assumes that learning is a linear path when in fact change and interruption is natural and will occur particularly for the youngest demographic. The Transition to Tertiary Life report found a number of challenges people face who want to enter tertiary education. These include the quality and relevance of the information, the process they follow, and where they are in their life.   

This report recommends a number of opportunities to explore further – by us as well as all other agencies and service providers in the tertiary education space.  

During the prediscovery exercise we focused on the needs of the consumer and the information and services they access. We interviewed and workshopped alongside 55 students and subject matter experts, and reviewed a wealth of research material.

This work also supports the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) Service Innovation work programme. The aim is to apply an outside-in ‘joined up’ view of government services and develop resources and information that is designed around people. 

We looked at opportunities where things could be done differently  

We focused on four areas specific to the needs of someone wanting to enter tertiary education. We looked at what might add value for both students and their supporters and influencers. We have an opportunity to learn from and design for what are typical changes during our lives.

1. “What do I need to know and understand to help me make the best choice for now and for my future?”

Students and their supporters (family, peers, teachers etc) need to plan and decide their pathway into tertiary education. Not only what suits their present life but also their future aspirations. Information relevant to the students’ life, aspirations, personalities, and how different study options effect life outcomes will aid this process.

2. “What and when do I need to share information about myself, and what I want to do, with others?”

Students need to provide the right information, from the right place at the right time. To increase efficiency and lessen unnecessary

 effort we can remove duplicate requests for existing information. Providing timely and actionable information about key choices and events will also help create certainty for students and their supporters so they don’t miss opportunities.

3. “Change is normal, and should be easy”.

A typical student’s circumstances changes all the time. It means change in course of study is highly likely. It happens more often for first-time students and those transitioning from secondary school to tertiary education. Despite this, changing courses often results in significant personal and financial consequences for the student. We could recognise that change is normal and natural and assist students through these changes.

4. “Feeling included and supported is key to better outcomes.”

Students who feel included and supported typically achieve better during study and after. There is an opportunity to raise and recognise students feelings of connectedness, acceptance, safety, and recognition of their abilities. We could also adapt teaching styles and mediums that help students and their supporters make the best study choices. 

What’s next?

The findings of this report will:

  • feed into our Careers System Strategy currently under development
  • feed into the Ministry of Education’s refresh of the Tertiary Education Strategy (TES) for 2020
  • inform our existing and future operating policy and strategy with regards to investment and delivery in tertiary education
  • help us provide meaningful careers advisory services for New Zealanders.

Read the Transition to Tertiary Life Event Report (PDF, 1.67 Mb)