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Page updated 5 Oct 2017

Treasury sees quality of education as an important contributor to raising living standards for New Zealanders. Education is like a factory for opportunity and ideas, giving young people the chance to better themselves. It helps to build a skilled workforce, which is crucial to raising growth and productivity. Better skills also make us more adaptable – a valuable trait in the rapidly changing global economy.

Education is an enabler of opportunity to give all New Zealanders the chance to live the life they want to lead.

People with higher levels of education tend to do better on a range of economic and social outcomes. Therefore, an education system that supports children to overcome disadvantage must be at the heart of improving long-term outcomes across generations.

A relatively well educated and skilled workforce is a key comparative advantage for New Zealand –to ensure our economy is productive, agile and innovative enough to overcome our geographical constraints.

Our Role

Treasury provides advice to the Government on education policy including early childhood, compulsory and tertiary education, and industry training. We monitor and advise on the performance of Crown agencies in the education sector.

In collaboration with New Zealand's education agencies, the Treasury provides advice to the Government on the policy settings that will enable all New Zealanders to reach their potential - in terms of educational achievement and life-long outcomes. This includes advice on the opportunities to improve the impact of government expenditure in education. We also have a role to look across sectors to provide advice on the role of education in supporting outcomes in other parts of the social sector; as well as how other sectors can support educational achievement.

The Treasury works with the Ministry of Education on a daily basis. We also work with other education agencies such as the Tertiary Education Commission, NZQA and the Education Review Office.

Read more: Education Key to Economic Growth and Equity


Education spending is reported in the Financial Statements of the Government of New Zealand. The most recent figure for core Crown education spending in New Zealand is $13.3 billion for the 2016/17 financial year. This figure is taken from the Analysis of Expenses by Functional Classification which is a section of the Financial Statements of the Government of New Zealand for the Year Ended 30 June 2017.

The Budget Economic and Fiscal Update 2017 (BEFU) published on 25 May 2017 forecasts that core Crown spending on education for the 2016/17 year will be $13.4 billion. Refer to the Core Crown Expense Tables for forecast spending out to 2020.

Treasury Research and Policies

Treasury's priorities for education are outlined in our Briefing to the Incoming Minister. We also discussed these priorities in a speech to the Trans-Tasman Business Circle in March 2012, and in the accompanying evidence brief on Lifting Student Achievement in New Zealand.

To read more Treasury papers on education see the following subject lists in the Research and Policy Papers section of the Publications index:

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