Highest qualification combines information from the highest secondary school qualification and post-school qualification questions to obtain an individual's single highest qualification by level of attainment.
Increase in people with a post-school qualification
The proportion of people aged 15 years and over with a post-school qualification as their highest qualification has risen since the 1996 Census:
- In 1996, it was 31 percent
- In 2001, it was 32 percent
- In 2006, it was 40 percent.
Regional variations in level of highest qualification
There was considerable variation in the distribution of highest qualification levels across New Zealand.
In 2006, 11 percent of people had a bachelor's degree as their highest qualification. Looking across the regions:
- Wellington had the highest proportion of people with a bachelor's degree (15 percent), closely followed by Auckland (14 percent)
- West Coast had the lowest proportion (5 percent).
In 2006, 25 percent of people aged 15 years and over had no qualification. The regions with the:
- Highest proportions of people without a qualification were West Coast and Southland (both 36 percent)
- Lowest proportion of people without a qualification were Wellington and Auckland (both 20 percent).
More people have a higher degree
A higher degree includes post-graduate diplomas and certificates, honours degrees, master's degrees and doctorate degrees.
Since 1996, the number of people whose highest qualification was a higher degree has increased by 77 percent. Between 2001 and 2006, there was a 43 percent increase.
The proportion of people aged 15 and over with a higher degree as their highest qualification was:
- 3 percent in 1996 (74,343 people)
- 4 percent in 2001 (92,154 people)
- 5 percent in 2006 (131,931 people).
The 2006 Census provides more detailed information about post-graduate qualifications than previous censuses. Of people aged 15 years and over in 2006:
- 2 percent (55,461) had a post-graduate diploma or honours degree
- 2 percent (59,703) had a master's degree
- Less than 1 percent (16,767) had a doctorate degree.