Plan Guidance for 2017 and 2018: Plan basics

Plan Guidance for 2017 and 2018: Plan basics

Last updated 7 November 2016
Last updated 11/07/2016

Our work with you on developing the Investment Approach may result in the need to amend some details of the things we require from you, compared to what we asked for in previous years.

These changes are most likely to affect the specifics of the content of your plans and possibly the criteria we will use to assess plans.

The following sections set out our ideas to this point. We will keep you updated as we develop our thinking with you. We will publish our requirements for the content of, and processes for submitting, proposed plans in a Gazette notice in early 2016. The Gazette notice will also set out the criteria we will use to assess plans.


Who needs a plan?

Most of our funds are administered through plans, so most organisations seeking funding from us are required to develop and submit a plan.

However, we can exempt certain organisations from the requirement to submit a plan altogether or from having to include certain parts of a plan – see below.

Plan exemptions

In previous plan rounds, we exempted a small number of organisations from the requirement to submit a plan.

As part of the Investment Approach changes, we are proposing to take a more differentiated approach to plans. This means a larger number of you may no longer need to submit a plan. If you have previously not needed to submit a plan, it’s likely this exemption will also apply in this plan round.

From 2016, we are proposing to exempt private training establishments (PTEs) and community education providers (CEPs), which only receive a small amount of funding from us, from the need to prepare a plan. This will lower some of the compliance costs for these organisations.

We are in the process of seeking feedback from the sector, schools and community organisations on this proposal. We’ll be making decisions on this, and will let you know what we’ve decided, early next year.

Plan content

The Education Act 1989 sets out the requirements for your plan. Section 159P states that it must set out:

  • your mission and role
  • how you will address the needs of your stakeholders
  • how you will give effect to the Tertiary Education Strategy (TES)
  • a description of programmes, activities and outcomes
  • the amount of funding sought in relation to the programmes and activities
  • a description of your proposed outcomes and the performance indicators that you will use to measure whether those outcomes have been achieved
  • a description of all the tertiary education programmes run by your organisation other than those in relation to which funding is sought.

As we’ve already noted, we don’t necessarily expect you to create brand new content for these sections of your plan. If this information already exists (for example in your strategic plan) then you can simply reference it or copy and paste this into your plan. We will work with you to make sure that we support this through our Gazette notice setting out required plan content.

Mission and role

We want you to set out your mission and distinctive role within the overall network of provision: what is your purpose – including the way in which this is different from other organisations – and your contribution to the broader goals of the tertiary system?

We want to see an outline of your strategic direction, including:

  • your proposed outcomes for the coming three years, and why you’ve decided to seek those outcomes, given the priorities of the Tertiary Education Strategy (TES) and the needs of your stakeholders (see also the next section: Addressing the needs of your stakeholders)
  • what you’re going to do and produce (i.e. your activities and outputs) over the coming three years to achieve those outcomes, and why those are the right things to do and produce given your operating environment, government priorities, the needs of your stakeholders, and evidence about what works (see the section on Programmes, activities and outcomes for further detail)
  • how you intend to demonstrate progress in achieving the goals of your strategic direction, including the indicators and measures you will use.

Role within the network

In line with our focus on system-wide performance improvement, we want to ensure the system has the capacity and capability to respond to future demands and challenges. We will look at this as part of our plan engagement by:

  • ensuring that tertiary education institutions in particular have a distinct mission that delivers national goals along with the institution’s own objectives
  • encouraging private providers to contribute to system diversity while pursuing business objectives
  • providing better integration through clear, navigable pathways for learners
  • supporting tertiary education organisations to compare and share insights from business information (such as through the New Zealand Benchmarking Tool)
  • facilitating clustering and consolidation where this will maintain or improve access for learners and choice in regions while building long-term sustainability of provision.

Clustering and consolidation to improve access and sustainability

We are interested in exploring different approaches to building a more responsive, resilient and sustainable system while maintaining or improving regional access. As we indicated earlier, we intend to engage with you collectively on longer-term strategic issues and this will be one of the topics for discussion. In the meantime, we would like you to think about how you might approach the following objectives:

  • shared, coordinated academic planning
  • a regionally coordinated approach to transfer and progression pathways
  • a coordinated regional approach to both community and regional development
  • shared services and facilities, including harmonisation of systems and processes that adds value or enables further collaboration at a later stage.

Addressing the needs of your stakeholders

Knowing your stakeholders is a vital part of defining your mission and role: what you do, why you do it, and for whom?

The tertiary education system is broad and varied, and each organisation will have a different range of stakeholders, with varying needs and expectations.

We don’t have a template approach to stakeholder engagement. We want to be able to see in your plan that you know who your stakeholders are, what they need and expect of you, and how you’re going to respond to those needs and expectations.


Supporting tools and information

We’re currently in the process of developing new tools and reports to provide information to help your planning process and support our funding decisions.

We’re planning to have these available for internal use starting early 2016. We will progressively make this information available to you during 2016. Our initial focus is on information that helps us all get a better understanding of how learners experience the tertiary education system and what makes the experience a success for them. We plan to use this information in our discussions with you on developing your plans.

We’re going to be focusing on:

  • identifying how to assess learner gain
  • analysing and comparing economic, labour market, tertiary provision and demographic information at the regional and national levels
  • forecasting future domestic EFTS demand
  • identifying outcomes of tertiary education, with an initial focus on economic outcomes.

Where we intend to use this information to assess plans, we will include relevant assessment criteria in our Gazette notice. We will make sure that you have access to the right data so you can self-assess before submitting your plan.

Programmes, activities and outcomes

Summary of activities

Your plan needs to include a “Summary of Activity” for the period of the proposed plan. Your activities need to align with and support your mission and role. As noted above, we’re still working out the specific requirements, and we’ll let you know in due course.

Performance commitments

Your plan also needs to set out your proposed performance commitments so you (and we) can measure whether you’re producing the activities and outputs identified in your plan.

We will provide all tertiary education organisations (TEOs) with information about specific metrics you must use when making certain performance commitments. In some cases, we will specify minimum commitments for TEOs – especially where they relate to Tertiary Education Strategy (TES) priority areas or learners. You should propose additional commitments as required.

Improving how your performance is measured

Measuring your performance is a critical part of the system. We need robust performance measures that enable TEOs, government and learners to make informed decisions about where the system and providers are performing well and where we need to focus on improvement.

We are working with the sector on developing performance measures that assess the value and the outcomes of education, aligned to the goals of the TES.

Your organisation will have received a letter from the Ministry of Education seeking your consent to the release of the employment outcomes information for your organisation from Statistics New Zealand’s Integrated Data Infrastructure.

We expect and want to work with you to identify how you can best use this information to assess and improve your performance to deliver high-value and economically relevant skills.

Addressing technical issues with EPIs

For the 2017–2018 plans, we are also working with the sector to address the technical issues with the so they are more fit for purpose. In particular we are looking at moving to cohort-based qualification completion and retention rates. We have been working with representatives from different parts of the sector on these issues to develop an alternative methodology.

To support the focus on learners, we expect this work will help TEOs and government to make better decisions about how to improve outcomes for learners.

For the 2017–2018 plans, this information will inform our engagement with you on your performance and setting performance targets.

We will be releasing a consultation document in early December to seek your views on changes to the Qualification Completion Rate and the Retention Rate measures. Once we have collated feedback we will also be making decisions about when we will be able to implement the changes.

Go to next section: Changes to funding