Information about data used in the Compare Study Options tool

Defining young, domestic graduates

All results are for young, domestic graduates. By 'young' we mean graduates who, on 1 July in the year they completed their qualification, were:

  • 21 years or under for certificates
  • 23 years or under for diplomas
  • 24 years or under for three-year Bachelor's degrees, with every year of additional study required adding a year to the age cut-off. For example, 25 years and under for four-year law degrees, 26 years and under for five-year architecture degrees, and 27 years and under for six-year medical degrees
  • 26 years or under for one year of postgraduate study, and graduate certificates or diplomas
  • 27 years or under for Master's degrees
  • 29 years or under for Doctorate students.

The results only include domestic students: students who are New Zealand citizens, New Zealand permanent residents, or Australian citizens, and who are not residing overseas. In cases where the domestic status changes for a student across years, their status in their last year of enrolment for a qualification is used.

Graduates are only included in the results in those years where they spent at least three months in New Zealand.

How is 'status' defined?

Each graduate is assigned to a single destination for each year after study.

Graduates often do more than one thing each year so the following rules were used to determine a graduate's main activity for a year:

  • Further study – the graduate did some further tertiary study that year.
  • Benefit – the graduate did no further study and was on a benefit for at least four months in the year, plus the time on a benefit was longer than any time in employment.
  • Employment – the graduate wasn't classified in either of the above categories and received wages and salary, paid parental leave and/or ACC compensation for at least four months or more in the year and/or received any self-employment income.
  • Other/Unknown – the graduate didn't meet any of the above criteria, or we weren't able to track their movements.

The results show what graduates earned and did between 1 April 2014 and 31 March 2016 (the 2015 and 2016 tax years).

  • Results shown one year after completing study are for graduates who finished studying in 2013 or 2014.
  • Results shown two years after completing study are for graduates who finished studying in 2012 or 2013.
  • Results shown five years after completing study are for graduates who finished studying in 2009 or 2010.

Definition of 'field of study'

To determine the field of study we looked at which courses graduates took in their last three years of study, usually at the same level as the final year of study or higher, to determine what best constituted their main field(s) of study or specialisation(s).

Fields of study are presented as both broad categories (for example 'natural and physical sciences') and narrow categories (for example, 'mathematical sciences', 'physics and astronomy', 'chemical sciences', 'earth sciences' and 'biological sciences').

People graduating in more than one field of study are counted in each of the fields of study. The number of students in each narrow field of study may not add to the broad field of study total. This is because students can be enrolled in multiple narrow fields of study.

Further information

For further details about graduate outcomes, please refer to the Ministry of Education's ‘Employment outcomes for tertiary education graduates for different tertiary providers'.

Terms and conditions of data use

The results that this website provides are not official statistics. They are based on results that have been created for research purposes from the Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI) managed by Statistics New Zealand. The IDI is managed under strict confidentiality rules by Statistics New Zealand. These rules protect the privacy of individual people and businesses.

The opinions, findings, recommendations and conclusions expressed both on this website and in the accompanying report are those of the authors not Statistics New Zealand.

Access to the anonymised data used in this study was provided by Statistics New Zealand in accordance with security and confidentiality provisions of the Statistics Act 1975. Only people authorised by the Statistics Act 1975 are allowed to see data about a particular person, household, business or organisation and the results in this report have been confidentialised to protect these groups from identification.

Careful consideration has been given to the privacy, security and confidentiality issues associated with using administrative and survey data in the IDI. Further detail can be found in the privacy impact assessment for the Integrated Data Infrastructure available from

The results are based in part on tax data supplied by Inland Revenue to Statistics New Zealand under the Tax Administration Act 1994. This tax data must be used only for statistical purposes, and no individual information may be published or disclosed in any other form, or provided to Inland Revenue for administrative or regulatory purposes.

Any person who has had access to the unit-record data has certified that they have been shown, have read, and have understood section 81 of the Tax Administration Act 1994, which relates to secrecy. 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.

Updated 10 Oct 2019