Tag Archives: graduates

Caution urged about potential for misuse of national earnings data


The Ministry of Education has released data showing the employment outcomes and earnings of graduates in each of the nine years following graduation by institution, however caution is urged about potential for misuse of the data.

UC’s view is:

Universities welcome any information that allows students to make informed decisions on their course of study and choice of University. This data offers little to students making those decisions, and Universities have made those concerns known.

To take some examples: the data does not account for the costs of being a student in a particular area, or a range of issues that could create the impression some degrees from some Universities are better paid. Graduates finding employment in metropolitan areas are likely to be better paid than those working in the provinces – yet the data does not take into account living costs of particular regions, demand for particular skills in some regions (such as lawyers in the Wellington public service) or the fact that some graduates may start a business and earn lower incomes for some time afterwards. Some graduates may be attracted to particular sectors for reasons other than remuneration. Graduates who head overseas are not captured at all.

These are factors that very much influence the statistical validity and usefulness of this dataset. We therefore have the view that any league tables generated from this data are not only meaningless, but misleading and potentially harmful.

The weaknesses of this data are:

  • The cohorts are based on NZSCED classifications, which may or may not map to a specific qualification.
  • The results are not provided where small cohorts may breach the privacy of an individual.
  • The analysis of being employed, further study, benefit, overseas or other are very high level criteria.
  • National average remuneration makes no allowance for local variations in employment rates.

Universities New Zealand has released a statement about the data (Note: the $1.5 near the end of  the statement should read $1.5 million) – read it here>

You can see the employment outcome and earnings data here>