Tertiary education won't make you rich – in New Zealand

A” series of indicators released by the Ministry of Education last month shows that New Zealanders who gain a tertiary education qualification can expect a substantially smaller return on their investment, in terms of earning potential, than students in other countries.

Average earnings in 2007 for New Zealanders with a tertiary education are 21 percent higher, compared to those with only upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education. This is lower than equivalent figures for Australia (31 percent) and considerably lower than the OECD average across 25 countries of 52 percent.” In 2007, both the United States (72 percent) and the United Kingdom (57 percent) had very high premiums for tertiary education over these lower levels education.

The ministry states that this is important because the success of an education system is manifested in, amongst other things, the success of individuals in finding sustainable employment as well as the level of wages that employers are willing to pay for the skills and knowledge that the individual brings to a job.

“These labour market advantages are an important outcome of education. They may even be the primary economic and social outcome, because earned income enables people to achieve a higher standard of living and many of the other individual and national outcomes associated with education may accrue either directly or indirectly from higher incomes.”

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