How, who and what we fund

Me pēhea, ko wai, he aha ngā mahi whai pūtea

Last updated 20 February 2017
Last updated 02/20/2017

Each year, we invest around $2.8 billion in tertiary education. This page outlines how, who and what we fund.

Our investment aims to help equip New Zealanders with the knowledge and skills they need for lifelong success. Most of the funding is provided in the Government’s Budget viaVote tertiary education. We also occasionally provide funding on behalf of other government agencies, such as Immigration New Zealand.

The Tertiary Education Strategy

The Tertiary Education Strategy (TES) guides all our funding decisions. Part of our role is to make sure that our funding helps tertiary education organisations (TEOs) achieve the Government’s priorities for tertiary education.

As well as reflecting what we expect from tertiary education, the strategy describes how a high-performing tertiary education sector can create better opportunities for individuals and for New Zealand.

How we fund

We provide most of our funding through Investment Plans although some funds are off-plan and some TEOs are exempt from a plan. These TEOs are instead managed through a funding letter.

Under the Education Act 1989, the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment issues funding mechanisms which set out each fund’s purpose and design.

To help us achieve the desired educational outcomes, we provide TEOs guidance on each fund and, in some cases, impose funding conditions.

Who we fund

Each fund has specific eligibility criteria that define which TEOs are eligible for that funding. These criteria are usually outlined in the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment’s funding mechanisms. We only fund eligible TEOs.

The different types of TEOs we fund include:

  • universities
  • institutes of technology and polytechnics (ITPs)
  • wānanga
  • industry training organisations (ITOs)
  • private training establishments (PTEs)
  • other TEOs.

Accessing funding from us

If your organisation is interested in finding out how it can access funding from us, please contact our Sector Helpdesk for information.

What we fund

We want to give everyone the opportunity to achieve, so we offer a variety of funds tailored to suit different types of tertiary education and learners. This means that we focus funding on:

  • improving outcomes for learners, particularly in foundation education
  • vocational education
  • improving the participation of priority groups (such as Māori and Pasifika learners) in education at higher levels of the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF)
  • study overseas in approved countries


See our list of current funds and a brief description of their purpose.

Search our fund finder for more detailed information about each fund.