News and opinions on disability
and inclusion

How are we doing with tertiary education?

20/12/16 · Posted in Education, Employment, valuing people

Sam Murray, our National Policy Coordinator, takes us through data on tertiary students with a disability.

Christmas is almost here and it came early for me this year. I have discovered a treasure trove of data on tertiary students with a disability (and those that know me know how I like data).

If you have the time, come take a look with me.

Fair warning, it is self-identified data (so people were just asked whether they have a disability or not). We know self-identified data tends to undercount disabled people by about half (because people still associate disability with something bad and do not want to identify). For example, in this data, 2,010 students who said they had no disability had also accessed disability services at a tertiary provider.

The percentage of disabled students in tertiary providers has been steadily rising, which is good. Currently 21,280 tertiary students identify as having a disability. Click on any of the graphs to make them bigger.


A graph showing the percentage of domestic tertiary students with a disability has been rising since 2010.

Students with disabilities were less likely to go to university. They were more likely to go to Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.


A graph showing that disabled students are less likely to go to University.

Disabled students were more likely to identify as Māori than non-disabled students were.


Students with disabilities were less likely to have higher qualifications, which is something we need to work on.


All of this matters because qualifications tend to improve the employment rate of people with disabilities (plus learning is fun and important for growing as a person). The employment rate is the percentage of people with jobs. Note the data below is from the 2013 Disability Survey.


The employment rate for disabled people aged 15 to 44 with a Bachelor’s degree or higher is almost 81% (for non-disabled people it is 84%). The employment rate for disabled people aged 15 to 44 with no qualifications is 38% (for non-disabled people it is almost 55%). The employment gap between disabled people and non-disabled people decreases as both become better educated.  There may still be inequality in income and hours worked though.

To check out the data for yourself, go to the first spreadsheet on this page (Provider-based enrolments):

Happy holidays!