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The Tertiary Education Commission and the Service Innovation Lab completed a four week scoping or ‘prediscovery sprint’ to identify two things: what people found challenging; and what opportunities for improvement lay in the experience of entering or re-entering the tertiary education system.

A Service Innovation and Tertiary Education Commission life event

The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) working with the Service Innovation Lab team (the Lab) completed a four week scoping or ‘prediscovery sprint’ to identify two things: what people found challenging; and what opportunities for improvement lay in the experience of entering or re-entering the tertiary education system.

We created the Transition to Tertiary Life Event Report (PDF, 1.67 Mb) with the findings from our work.

TEC has a significant stake in exploring what government agencies can do to support its stakeholders now and in the future. They invest more than $3 billion in tertiary education as well as being the government experts of the New Zealand career system.

Current administrative structures are designed on an underlying assumption that learning - specifically the transition into tertiary - is a linear pathway directly post-compulsory education. The reality is a meandering and episodic pathway, punctuated by change and interruption, particularly for our youngest demographic.

During the sprint we found a number of challenges faced by people who want to enter tertiary education. These include the quality and relevance of the information available about tertiary education; for example, how does tertiary education connect with careers and job prospects, what is the process for engaging in tertiary education and, given my life situation, what is the best option for me?

We were able to recommend some opportunities to explore further – by TEC and other agencies and service providers in the tertiary education space.

During the four weeks we focused on the needs of the students and the information and services they access. We interviewed and workshopped alongside 55 students and subject matter experts, and reviewed a wealth of research material from New Zealand and around the world.

This work is also an initiative within the all-of-government Service Innovation work programme whose aim is to apply an outside-in customer-centric ‘joined up’ view of government services and develop resources and information designed around people and significant times in their lives (called life events). It also gave us a chance to identify data and reusable components that could be developed further to help future tertiary and education-related services as well as other Government services being designed and developed elsewhere and in other sectors and agencies.

We looked at opportunities where things could be done differently

We identified four themes specific to the needs of someone wanting to enter tertiary education. We looked at what might add value for both prospective and current students and their supporters and influencers. We now have an opportunity to learn from and design for what are typical and normal changes during this life event.

  1. “What do I need to know and understand to help me make the best choice for now and for my future?”

    Students and their supporters (family, peers, teachers, etc.) need to plan and decide their pathway into tertiary education; not only what suits their present life but also their future aspirations. Information relevant to the student’s life, aspirations, personalities, and how different study options affect life outcomes will aid this process.
  2. “What and when do I need to share information about myself, and what I want to do, with others?”

    Students need to provide the right information, from the right place at the right time. To increase efficiency and lessen unnecessary effort we can remove duplicate requests by reusing existing information. Providing timely and actionable information about key choices and events will also help create certainty for students and their supporters so they don’t miss opportunities.
  3. “Change is normal, and should be easy.”

    A typical student’s circumstances changes all the time. It means change in the course of study is highly likely. It happens more often for first-time students and those transitioning from secondary school to tertiary education. Despite this, changing courses often results in significant personal and financial consequences for the student. We could recognise that change is normal and natural and assist students through these changes.
  4. “Feeling included and supported is key to better outcomes.”

    Students who feel included and supported typically achieve better during study and after. There is an opportunity to raise and recognise students’ feelings of connectedness, acceptance, safety, and their abilities. We could also adapt teaching styles and mediums to help students and their supporters make the best study choices.

What’s next?

TEC have advised the Transition to Tertiary Life Event Report (PDF, 1.67 Mb) will:

  • feed into the Careers System Strategy currently under development
  • feed into the Ministry of Education’s refresh of the Tertiary Education Strategy (TES)
  • inform existing and future operating policy and strategy regarding investment and delivery in tertiary education
  • help provide meaningful careers advisory services for New Zealanders.

From a Lab perspective, we’ll support TEC and the rest of the tertiary sector with additional research, design and development work to progress one of the research themes.

On a personal note

We are all deeply saddened at the sudden passing of Murray Stevens shortly after the report was published.

Murray was one of the subject matter experts from TEC and spent a lot of time with the Lab team. He played a significant role in our interactions with students and their supporters.

Murray was a firm believer in the value of education and the opportunities this can offer a person, but also informed us of the key human development stages and the impact this can have on people choices. He was great person to work with and we’ll always remember our time with him and the inspiration and wisdom he gave us.

Regarding our work, as always we’d love to hear from you so please get in touch.

If you'd like to stay across the work from the Service Innovation Lab, please join our mailing list.



Related Links

Go to the Tertiary Education Commission website

Go to the Ministry of Education website

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