Plan Guidance for 2017 and 2018: Strategic engagement

Plan Guidance for 2017 and 2018: Strategic engagement

Last updated 16 November 2016
Last updated 11/16/2016

This page has information about our engagement with you in relation to Plan Guidance for 2017 and 2018.

It describes the different approach we want to take with you, including our requirements, the alignment we want to see between a TEO’s mission and its strategy, your strategies and delivery intentions.

It also includes information about the assurances we seek and the phased approach we expect to take as the Investment Approach develops.

We want to take a different approach to engaging with you

In the coming plan round we intend to engage with you a bit differently. We have already started discussions with tertiary education organisations (TEOs), both collectively on longer-term strategic issues and individually with the larger TEOs able to make an impact at a system level.

Our engagement with all of you during 2016 will focus on:

  • you demonstrating to us how you are making a distinctive contribution to Tertiary Education Strategy (TES) priorities
  • your efforts to improve performance – through better strategic planning and management, particularly with regard to the increasingly competitive global environment in which you operate
  • you demonstrating to us how you are performing against the objectives set out in your strategic plan
  • how we will collectively improve the overall value of our investment in tertiary education, and be publically accountable for this.

This, and the points below, will be reflected in the Gazette notice we issue in early 2016 about what your plan needs to contain. We want to talk with you between now and then about the best way to create that notice.

Our requirements will be more proportionate to what is being funded

We want to simplify the operation of the plan system to focus resources – ours and yours – away from unnecessary administration and toward activities that improve outcomes. As we explain further below, we are keen to make better use of other strategic documents you already produce, to reduce the additional work that has to date been involved in preparing a plan.

In addition, from 2016, we intend to exempt smaller private training establishments (PTEs) and community education providers (CEPs) from the need to prepare a plan. You can read more about this under Plan exemptions.

We want to see a clear alignment between a TEO’s mission and its strategy

Our tertiary education system needs to be diverse, but it also needs to be coherent. For this reason, plans need to show that each TEO:

  • clearly understands its mission and role within the system, and how this relates to the community it serves
  • has a good, sustainable plan for fulfilling this mission and role through its programmes and activities.

We also want you to demonstrate what makes you different from other providers, in terms of (for example) the learners or industries you target, your mix of NZQF levels, your discipline specialisation, your emphasis on regional engagement, your mode of provision, your research intensity and specialization and/or your international focus.

We’ll be asking you to demonstrate the quality of your strategies and delivery intentions

We expect to see evidence of not just the quality of your programmes but assurances they will achieve the outcomes for learners we’re all looking for. The onus will be on you to demonstrate the quality of your strategies and planned execution of the strategy. A core requirement for all TEOs is therefore the ability to undertake effective organisational self-assessment.

We expect open disclosure from TEOs. The effectiveness and confidence of our judgements will depend on what we know about the system and its collective capability to deliver on government priorities. We want to develop a means by which we can assess and share our views on a TEO’s capacity and capability to deliver on its promises if funding were to be committed.

This will mean we are increasingly able to rely on highly capable, trusted TEOs we have confidence in. 

We will increasingly rely on strong governance, management and academic leadership

Like any investor, we will seek assurances. These will be a subset of the business planning and regular reporting that any council or board will be receiving and monitoring. Our role will centre on testing the quality of proposals so we can be confident they are realistic and robust.

Powerful, informed and engaged governing bodies are an essential precondition for sustainable educational success – for the TEO, its learners and the communities it serves. Their role includes:

  • determining the purpose of the enterprise, as this purpose underpins every decision the governing body makes; its strategic plan, its allocation of resources and performance goals for its executive
  • setting the educational strategy and being the primary guardians of educational quality and excellence for the TEO as a whole
  • identifying, managing and mitigating risk
  • demanding transparency in performance and results – data and metrics that will show to what extent the TEO is meeting its goals and delivering quality outcomes for learners
  • strengthening its own capability to ensure the TEO’s financial health, long-term sustainability and educational success.

In addition, we need to have confidence that the things we provide funding for are the things which are actually delivered. Work is currently underway to look at processes that reinforce the importance of programmes and qualifications being delivered as specified and agreed. We will be consulting on enhancements to give us more assurance that funding conditions are being complied with.

We will take a phased approach as the Investment Approach develops

Our discussions with you in 2016 will lead to agreed plans for the period 2017–2018. These discussions are intended to strengthen and not replace or pre-empt existing planning and governance procedures. We know that larger TEOs are already well advanced in having robust strategic planning processes in place and many are already engaged in the process of setting and monitoring the achievement of objectives.

We would like to see your strategic plan as formally adopted and monitored by your governing authority as the primary source for your plan and (in subsequent years) for self-review. Where your strategic plan expires before the end of the plan period this can be taken into account in the process and in the ongoing review of objectives.


Go to the next section: What we want the engagement to focus on