Introduction from the Vice-Chancellor

Stuart McCutcheon

Commentary is an occasional publication produced by my office. Its purpose is to provide research-based analysis on issues of importance to New Zealand's tertiary education and research sectors. I would like Commentary to encourage and inform discussion and debate on these issues, which are critical to the country's future.

It is important to the University of Auckland, and to the New Zealand university system more generally, that opinion leaders are well informed about the issues facing tertiary education and research.

We hope you will take the time to read each issue, and that you will find Commentary a valuable source of information and comment.

Your feedback on the issues addressed is welcome: email

Stuart N. McCutcheon



Issue 11 – May 2019
This issue looks at student loan debt in New Zealand. Potential negative consequences resulting from having a student loan are examined, and the question of whether the value of a degree outweighs those negative impacts is considered. (653.2 kB, PDF)
Issue 10 – November 2018
The drivers of educational underachievement in New Zealand are examined in an attempt to better understand how this problem might best be addressed. In particular, the impacts of ethnicity and socioeconomic status are considered, and the unintended consequences of the often dominant focus on ethnicity is questioned. (1.3 MB, PDF)
Issue 9 – August 2018
The role of universities in creating economic growth and prosperity. (911.0 kB, PDF)
Issue 8 – March 2018
Although rankings are only a proxy for quality they are nonetheless important to many groups in the tertiary sector. The decline in the rankings of New Zealand universities must therefore be of real concern. (808.8 kB, PDF)
Issue 7 – November 2017
Universities compete in a global market for students, and an important determinant of students’ university choice is the perception of institutional quality. (980.6 kB, PDF)
Issue 7 – November 2017, Technical Supplement
This appendix is supplementary to the Commentary paper International Rankings: Income versus Quality in New Zealand and Australia (November 2017, Issue 7). (66.9 kB, PDF)
Issue 6 – July 2010
Universities represent one of the best investments available to both governments and the private individual. (902.5 kB, PDF)
Issue 5 – March 2010
The importance of high-quality research-informed teaching to the educational experience of students. (223.8 kB, PDF)
Issue 4 – April 2009
Looking at the research undertaken by our universities and the positive contribution that this research makes to economic growth. (178.6 kB, PDF)
Issue 3 – January 2008
The implications of a proposed new class of institution the "University of Technology". (269.7 kB, PDF)
Issue 2 – October 2007
An analysis of the marked decline in government investment in our universities and the need for them to be funded to reflect their real costs. (251.9 kB, PDF)
Issue 1 – August 2007
A discussion on the characteristics of leading research universities around the world, why they matter, and what the benefits are likely to be of encouraging such institutions to be flourishing in New Zealand. (266.5 kB, PDF)