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Student Loans and Allowances: 2009
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  23 December 2010
Technical notes

Key official statistics

This release includes official statistics on:

  • borrowing in a year 
  • leaving debt 
  • allowance received in a year 
  • repayments 
  • income after leaving study 
  • borrowers who have repaid their loan in full 
  • new borrowers.

New this year

 The following information is available for the first time this release:

  • statistics on the outcomes for student loan borrowers and allowance recipients by qualification completion status 
  • statistics using the Ethnicity New Zealand Standard Classification 2005 for ethnicity demographic information for 2007 onwards.

Student loans and allowances: background

Statistics New Zealand’s integrated data on student loans and allowances links educational information from the Ministry of Education with borrowing and allowance information from the Ministry of Social Development (StudyLink), and income and repayments information from Inland Revenue. It allows the educational characteristics of student loan borrowers and student allowance recipients to be linked with the details of their loans, allowances, and income. It has recently been updated to include data for 2009.

This release supplements information published by the Ministry of Education in the Student Loan Scheme Annual Report: October 2010 (released November 2010), and New Zealand’s Tertiary Education Sector Profile and Trends 2009 (released August 2010).

Statistics NZ links new data that is supplied annually from the Ministry of Eduction, StudyLink and Inland Revenue to take advantage of improvements in data quality. This means that all the data in previous releases has been revised.

Time periods covered by this release

This release provides statistics from the earliest point at which information is available. Due to the nature and sources of data, statistics start from different years:

1992 – Leaving debt, debt five years post-study, and full repayment information is available for those who left study from 1992 onwards.
1995 – Income information is only available from 1995 onwards.
1997 – Information on ethnicity, field of study, level of study, completion status, and full provider type is only available from 1997 onwards.
2000 – The amount borrowed in loans or received in allowances in a particular calendar year is only available from 2000 onwards.

The most recent data available for this release is for 2009. This reflects the time required to include income data for salary and wage earners and for those who are self-employed.

Average debt refers to the average student loan debt, and results from borrowing under the student loan scheme. It does not include bank overdrafts, personal bank loans, loans from parents and family, credit card debt, or hire purchases.

Glossary

Economic variables

Amount borrowed / amount received: the amount borrowed or received by a student in a particular calendar year (not the total amount borrowed by the student over all years of study).

Leaving debt: the total debt still owing in March following the last year of study, including any repayment the student may have made during study. This includes those who had $0 debt on leaving. For example, if a student last studied in 2001, their leaving debt is their debt in March of 2002. This data will always be a year behind the release date. For example, in the 2009 dataset on student loans and allowances, leaving debt data is only available for those who left study up to 2008 and did not return the following year.

Debt five years post-study: the total debt still owing in March five years after the last year of study, including any repayment made up to this time. This includes those who had $0 debt five years post-study. For example, for those who last studied in 2004, their debt five years post-study is their debt remaining in March 2010.

Income one year post-study: the taxable income earned in the tax year after leaving study. This excludes those with $0 income. For example, for those students who left study in 2004, their one year post-study income is that in the 2005/06 tax year.

Income five years post-study: the taxable income earned in the tax year five years after leaving study. This excludes those with $0 income. For example, for those students who left study in 2004, their five-year post study income is in the 2009/10 tax year.

New borrower: the number of students using the student loan scheme for the first time. Counts of new borrowers are based on the first year of borrowing recorded on the Student Loan Accounts Manager, Ministry of Social Development or Inland Revenue system.

Demographic characteristics

Age group: the person's age at 1 July in the reference year in the table.

Ethnic group: data for the years before 2000 are sourced from the Ministry of Education, and assign each individual to one ethnic group only. For those who identified with more than one ethnic group this allocation was based on the following order of priority: Māori, Pacific peoples, Asian, other, European. For example, if a student loan borrower identified as both Samoan and European, then they were assigned to the Pacific peoples ethnic group. Subsequently, unprioritised ethnicity data began to become available, from StudyLink (from 2000 onwards) and the Ministry of Education (from 2001 onwards), and where available this unprioritised ethnicity data has been used. The data from both sources may include up to three ethnicities for each individual, meaning that figures relating to 2000 may reflect identification with as many as three different ethnic groups per student, and those from 2001 as many as six different ethnic groups per student.

From 2001 onwards, unprioritised ethnicity data is available for nearly all borrowers. In a small number of cases, where unprioritised ethnicity data is not available, the older prioritised MoE ethnicity data has been used. The change from prioritised to unprioritised ethnicity data will affect ethnic group comparisons relating to borrowers in 1997 and 2008. Tables spanning the 1997–2008 period will reflect a combination of prioritised and unprioritised ethnicity data.

From 2007 onwards, the more detailed Ethnicity New Zealand Standard Classification 2005 has been used. Due to the nature of the administrative data collected, the ‘Middle Eastern/Latin American/African’ ethnicity group is only available from 2007. Before 2007 this group is included in the ‘other’ category.

Leaving cohort: the year of leaving is determined by the last year an enrolment record is available. Given that some students may return after taking a break from study, leaving cohorts for more recent years may overstate the number of leavers.

Study-related variables

Leaving year: the last year of study for a student, which does not distinguish those who completed their qualification from those who did not. For example, if a student last studied in 2001, then the student is considered to have left study in 2001 and their leaving year is 2001.
Completion status, field of study, level, and provider type during the student's last year of study were assigned to their debt, income and repayment.

Completion status: a student’s completion status is determined by whether they have had a qualification awarded within two years of leaving study at the same or higher level of study as that studied in their final year.

Where a student has a ‘completed’ status, the level of study, field of study and provider type relate to the qualification completed. Where a student has a status of ‘not completed’, the level of study, field of study and provider type relate to the highest level of study in their final year.

Where a student studied towards or completed more than one qualification at the highest level of study in their final year, information about both is included.

Graduate: for the purposes of this release, a graduate is a student who has left study and has a status of ‘completed’. This differs from a leaver, which is any student who has left study (no distinction is made between those who completed their qualification and those who did not).

Level of study: the qualification(s) for which the student was enrolled. Unless specified, this does not distinguish those who completed their qualification from those who did not. A student can be enrolled in more than one level of study; therefore they can be counted in more than one level in the table. Where this relates to their final year of study, only their highest level of study is used.

Field of study: the New Zealand Standard Classification of Education of the field(s) of study, or subject of a programme of study, in which the student was enrolled. A student can be enrolled in more than one field of study; therefore they can be counted in more than one field in the table. Field of study includes all levels of study, and unless specified does not distinguish those who completed their qualification from those who did not. Where this relates to the final year of study, only the fields of study associated with the highest level studied at in the final year is used.

Provider type: the type of education provider at which the student was enrolled. A student can be enrolled in more than one provider type; therefore they can be counted in more than one provider type in the table. Unless specified this does not distinguish those who completed their qualification from those who did not. Where this relates to the final year of study, only the provider type associated with the highest level studied at in the final year is used.

Definitions of individual provider types are outlined below.

  • University – a public tertiary education institution that is primarily concerned with advanced learning and knowledge, research, and teaching to a postgraduate level.
  • Institute of technology – a synonym for polytechnic.
  • Polytechnic – a public tertiary institution that is characterised by a wide diversity of vocational and professional programmes. Polytechnics are now referred to as institutes of technology and polytechnics (ITPs).
  • College of education – a tertiary education institution that provides training and research, mostly related to early childhood, compulsory and post-compulsory education. From January 2007, the last two remaining colleges of education merged with local universities.
  • Wānanga – a public tertiary institution that provides programmes with an emphasis on the application of knowledge regarding āhuatanga Māori (Māori traditions) according to tikanga Māori (Māori custom).
  • Other tertiary education providers (OTEPs) – organisations that deliver programmes of tertiary education or in support of tertiary education of some national significance, and are recognised by the Minister of Education under section 321 of the Education Act 1989. In this release, OTEPS have been included with private training establishments.
  • Private training establishments (PTEs) – defined in the Education Act 1989 as 'an establishment, other than a public tertiary education institution, that provides post-school education or vocational training'. PTEs are private organisations providing tertiary education or training that is registered with the New Zealand Qualifications Authority. This includes not only privately owned providers, but also those operated by iwi, trusts and other organisations; many companies and government training establishments register their staff training operations as training establishments.

Loan and allowance categories of students

 Diagram, Loan and allowance categories of students.

The diagram above (not to scale) shows the financial support options available to students. The dataset used in this release only includes students with a loan and/or an allowance.

Integrated dataset

The statistics in this release were produced using a database of student loans and allowances, and tertiary education data held by Statistics NZ. An important component of the database is an integrated dataset on student loan borrowers and allowance recipients, which was created by linking administrative records from a number of government agencies:

  • individual students’ tertiary enrolment and completion data from the MoE
  • individual students’ borrowing data from the now-defunct student loan account manager (SLAM) provided by Inland Revenue and the MoE
  • individual students’ borrowing and allowance data (from 1999 onwards for allowances, and 2000 onwards for loans) from StudyLink, a service of the Ministry of Social Development (MSD)
  • individuals’ loan balance, repayment, and income data from Inland Revenue.

The integrated dataset is the only data source that links information on borrowers and allowance recipients' income, debt, and repayment with their enrolment details and other characteristics. It includes information on borrowing and allowances, and links records over time, making it a single integrated data source from which to provide statistics for strategic policy and financial analysis.

Differences between all student loan borrowers and those in this release

Users should be aware that official statistics on student loans are also published in the annual report of the student loan scheme, published each year by the MoE, and in other MoE reports. The official statistics on student loan borrowers included in this Hot Off The Press may differ from statistics published in the annual report. This is because the source administrative data was provided to Statistics NZ at a specified cut-off date, which differs from the one used for the annual report. In addition, the tables in this release use different populations from those in the annual report, and different concepts for those populations.

For example, the data on leaving debt produced by Statistics NZ includes those who leave study with $0 leaving debt (having repaid their loan while studying), whereas MoE may exclude those who leave with $0 debt.

The use of probabilistic matching significantly increased the percentage of student loan borrowers whose information was included in the integrated dataset. However, some types of student loan borrowers were still under-represented, even after both stages of matching were completed. Due to the absence of data from the MoE's dataset on students attending PTEs before 2000, the link rate of PTE students prior to 2000 was around 30 percent. From 2000 onwards, the link rate rose to 91 percent.

More information

For further information regarding the history of the dataset, matching methodology and student loans policy list, please see Student Loans and Allowances: 2005, available on the Statistics NZ website.

Copyright

Information obtained from Statistics NZ may be freely used, reproduced, or quoted unless otherwise specified. In all cases Statistics NZ must be acknowledged as the source.

Liability

While care has been used in processing, analysing and extracting information, Statistics NZ gives no warranty that the information supplied is free from error. Statistics NZ shall not be liable for any loss suffered through the use, directly or indirectly, of any information, product or service.

Timing

Timed statistical releases are delivered using postal and electronic services provided by third parties. Delivery of these releases may be delayed by circumstances outside the control of Statistics NZ. Statistics NZ accepts no responsibility for any such delays.  

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