The cost of education is the biggest factor stopping Kiwis from entering tertiary education, a recent study by ASG Education Programmes New Zealand reveals.
The survey shows 65 per cent of respondents said children are unable to attend tertiary education because it is too expensive.
ASG chief executive John Velegrinis says this raises concerning questions around equal opportunity.
“Education at all levels must be accessible to everyone. We know that for economies to thrive, people from all socioeconomic groups need to be able to see post-secondary education as a realistic option.
“New Zealand’s rates of child poverty have doubled from 14 to 27 per cent in just 30 years. With an ageing population, the country’s long-term prosperity and its ability to provide sustainable and fulfilling employment for its citizens depends on the quality of its higher education and the participation rate,” Mr Velegrinis said.
The ASG study found that 52 per cent of respondents said lack of support and encouragement from teachers and family is the main reason for not going on to post-secondary study.
This complex issue is centred on teachers’ expectations of children coming from different backgrounds, national coordinator of the National Excellence in Teaching (NEiTA) Awards Pat Lynch said. The awards give communities the opportunity to recognise and reward inspiring teachers.
“Teachers can sometimes behave differently toward students according to their socioeconomic or cultural background. The best teachers recognise that they have a huge role to play in breaking down stereotypes, and in doing so, encourage children to see themselves as having equal potential,” Mr Lynch said.
Forty five per cent of respondents thought lack of interest in tertiary education was the main reason for lack of post-secondary participation.
Mr Lynch said it was time for New Zealand to have an education-leaving age rather than a school-leaving age.
“If we compare someone with a tertiary qualification with someone who doesn’t over a 30-year period, the differences in life outcomes are huge. Introducing an education-leaving age, when someone has achieved to at least diploma level, is a reasonable and practical way of influencing employability and helping a person achieve a better quality of life.”
ASG’s study also found other reasons parents thought children didn’t continue with higher education were: post-secondary education was not essential for their chosen career (30 per cent), lack of ability (35 per cent), preference to start immediate paid employment (17 per cent), emotional/health related (13 per cent) and lack of belief in the quality of education (10 per cent).
Less than five per cent of respondents thought peer pressure, location or lack of appropriate subjects were factors in children’s decision not to pursue post-secondary education.
In the survey, respondents were asked to provide their top three answers to the question ‘What do you consider to be the main reasons why children do not pursue post-secondary education?’