Post-study outcomes data – technical information

Post-study outcomes data – technical information

Last updated 27 March 2024
Last updated 27 March 2024

What are post-study outcomes data?

Post-study outcomes from tertiary education measure where graduates go (their destinations) and how much they earn after completing study.

The data can be broken down into:

  • the level of study on the New Zealand Qualifications and Credentials Framework (NZQCF)
  • the field of study
  • student characteristics (age, gender, region where they lived, etc) and
  • the tertiary provider they studied with.

The data tells you:

  • the number of graduates who:
    • are in employment
    • are in different types of further study
    • are on a jobseeker benefit
    • are overseas
    • have changed their employment or jobseeker status over a period between two years prior to their graduation and the outcome year, or
    • are in another (unknown) destination (if they don't fit any of the above criteria).

The data also tells you employed graduates’ median and quartile earnings in years 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 after they graduated and, for comparison, median and quartile earnings for employed students two years before their graduation.

Things to remember when using this data


We show outcomes for graduates 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 years after graduation. To create a large enough set of data to analyse across qualification level, subject area, age, gender, ethnicity, etc, we group graduates into four-year cohorts.

We use the calendar year to measure further tertiary study and the tax year for all other information (employment, income, days overseas and days on benefit).  

Graduate cohorts which correspond to the results for each year after study


Year in which we look at what the graduate earned or did

Cohorts' year of graduation

Year after study

Calendar year

Tax year




2020– 2023




2020– 2023




2020– 2023




2020– 2023




2020– 2023

The same graduate may appear in two different cohorts. A student who graduated in 2019 may have their outcomes measured in the 2020 calendar/2021 tax year for the Year 1 cohort and measured in the 2022 calendar year/2023 tax year for the Year 3 cohort.

Who is included in the data?

The outcomes in these spreadsheets are for domestic graduates who completed qualifications at tertiary education providers reporting qualification completions to the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC). This data excludes graduates who were receiving a disability benefit or in a Corrections facility for any period within the outcome year.

National-level data includes all qualification completions reported to TEC. Provider-level data includes Student Achievement Component-funded providers and Industry Training Organisations. Some smaller providers may not have outcome data if their graduate numbers do not reach the statistical threshold.

Outcomes are influenced by a range of factors

Graduates' outcomes are influenced by a range of factors outside of providers' control. These include different regional labour markets, individuals' choices, and graduates’ other qualifications, skills and experience.

Outcomes are grouped by qualification subject area, not specific qualification

We’ve used this higher level of grouping because there are often too few graduates at individual qualification level to produce any meaningful data. We have grouped together some qualifications that are likely to give graduates different outcomes. For example, graduates with a Bachelor in Oral Health (needed to become a dental hygienist) and a Bachelor of Dental Surgery (needed to become a dentist) are grouped together under dentistry.

Older graduates are included in this data

This data presents earnings and destinations not only for young graduates but for all age groups (under 25 years old, 25–39 years old, and 40 years and over). Older graduates who complete similar qualifications will likely have different outcomes from younger graduates, as other factors such as prior learning and work experience influence outcomes for older graduates. Accordingly, for older graduates traditionally used outcome indicators of earnings, employment, unemployment, and further study might not be enough to define which groups of graduates have relatively better outcomes from their tertiary study.

To improve outcome information for older graduates, this data includes measures such as:

  • change in employment or jobseeker status over a period between two years prior to student’s graduation and the outcome year, and
  • employed students’ earnings two years prior to their graduation compared to employed graduates’ earnings in the outcome year.

Outcomes are included for only a graduate’s highest and latest qualification

In previous data sets employment outcomes were attributed to all qualifications completed by a graduate.

In this data we attribute outcomes only to a learner’s highest and latest (by the outcome year) qualification, so a graduate has labour market outcomes attributed only once. The highest and latest qualification completed by a person is derived from all data reported to the TEC or NZQA by tertiary providers and Industry Training Organisations (ITOs). If a learner completed two equal-level qualifications in the same year at an ITO and a provider, we have attributed the outcomes to the ITO qualification, not the provider qualification.

Other sources of information


This post-study outcomes data does not give information on earnings and employment prospects for particular occupations. Graduates will often find jobs outside their area of study.

For more information on expected earnings and job prospects in different professions see's jobs database.

Job profiles –

Qualification information

This post-study outcomes data does not provide information on specific qualifications at tertiary providers. For information on qualifications and their completion rates, entry requirements, costs and career opportunities visit's qualifications database.

Study and training –

Technical information

Domestic graduates

Only domestic graduates are included in post-study outcomes data.

A domestic graduate lives in New Zealand and has either New Zealand or Australian citizenship, or permanent New Zealand residency.

Graduate numbers are rounded

To protect confidentiality all graduate counts are randomly rounded to base 3.[2] Graduate counts below five, including zero counts, are not included.

Graduate destinations

Graduates might be counted under multiple destinations.

When a graduate meets the criteria for more than one destination, they are counted in each of these destinations.




The graduate had income above 50% of the minimum wage from employment sources, measured over the 12-month period.

Full-time higher study

The graduate was enrolled in a formal study of >=0.8 EFTS at an NZQCF level higher than the completed qualification level in the outcome year.

Full-time non-higher study

The graduate was enrolled in a formal study of >=0.8 EFTS at an NZQCF level the same as or lower than the completed qualification level in the outcome year.

Part-time higher study

The graduate was enrolled in a formal study of <0.8 EFTS at an NZQCF level higher than the completed qualification level in the outcome year.

Other study

The graduate was enrolled in any study that is not full-time higher study, part-time higher study or full-time non-higher study as outlined above in the outcome year.


The graduate was in receipt of a jobseeker benefit for >183 days in the outcome year.


The graduate was overseas for >183 days in the outcome year.

Moved into employment

The graduate was not qualified as employed 2 years prior to qualification completion and was employed in the outcome year.

Moved off benefit

The graduate met the definition of a jobseeker (as outlined above) 2 years prior to qualification completion and did not meet the definition of a jobseeker in the outcome year.


The graduate didn't meet any of the above criteria, or there was no record in that year for them in the IDI data.

Measuring earnings

Gross earnings from employed graduates

  • Earnings include taxable earnings from wages and salary, paid parental leave, ACC compensation and self-employment.
  • Earnings are measured across graduates who are employed.
  • Earnings in tax years 2020–2022 are adjusted with the Labour Cost Index to the March 2023 dollars.
  • Earnings are rounded to the nearest $1,000.

Hours of work

Earnings will be understated for any qualifications and fields of study where there are significant numbers of young graduates in part-time work or who only work part of the year. This is because no adjustments are made for graduates' hours of work.

Fields of study and qualifications

Defining area of study

The field of study is determined from the courses graduates take in their study. The New Zealand Standard Classification of Education (NZSCED) is used to classify the fields of study.

For more information about NZSCED codes, see New Zealand Standard Classification of Education – Education Counts.

Results are presented at the broad, narrow and detailed NZSCED levels.

Number of graduates

Where the total number of graduates was 20 or below, we excluded the results from this data. Take care interpreting earnings and destination results when there is a small number of graduates as the results may fluctuate.

Merged providers

Some providers have merged over the period covered by this data. Where this has occurred, we have combined the former providers' graduate outcomes to give outcomes for the merged provider.

Earnings data suppression




Earnings data in a cell is suppressed due to a low number of employed graduates (under 10 graduates for median earnings and under 20 graduates for lower and upper quartile earnings).


These results are based on information obtained by TEC from Statistics New Zealand’s Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI). We try to the best of our ability to ensure that these results are true and accurate. However, TEC does not accept any liability for their accuracy or content.           

These results are not official statistics; they have been created for research purposes from the IDI, which is carefully managed by Stats NZ. For more information about the IDI please see Integrated Data – Stats NZ.

Access to the data used in this study was provided by Stats NZ under conditions designed to give effect to the security and confidentiality provisions of the Statistics Act 2022. The results presented in this study are the work of the author, not Stats NZ or individual data suppliers.

The results are based in part on tax data supplied by Inland Revenue to Stats NZ under the Tax Administration Act 1994 for statistical purposes. Any discussion of data limitations or weaknesses is in the context of using the IDI for statistical purposes, and is not related to the data’s ability to support Inland Revenue’s core operational requirements.

[1] For the example given in the table, the Year 1 cohort takes those who graduated in 2018 and measures their outcomes in the 2019 calendar/2020 tax year; adds those who graduated in 2019 measuring their outcomes in the 2020 calendar/2021 tax year; adds those who graduated in 2020 measuring their outcomes in 2021 calendar/2022 tax year and adds those who graduated in 2021 measuring their outcomes in 2022 calendar/2023 tax year.

[2] Base 3 refers to a standard arithmetical term, when any number is rounded to the nearest multiple of 3 (eg. 3, 6, 9, etc). The rounding to a higher or lower number is randomly selected to hide the real number of people for confidentiality purposes.