New Māori scorecard for nursing schools

1 July 2012

The first “league table” ranking nursing schools’ performance in supporting Māori nursing students shows wide disparity in student success rates.

The 2011 scorecard ranking the 16 schools has recently been released by Ngā Manukura o Āpōpō, the Māori nursing and midwifery workforce development programme, using data drawn from the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC).

Northland’s NorthTec, the school with the highest percentage of Māori students, came out on top, followed by Eastern Institute of Technology. Trailing at 16th was Auckland’s Unitec and 15th was Massey University.

Dr Denise Wilson, a Ngā Manukura spokeswoman, said the first scorecard was based on a snapshot of data from 2010, using four benchmarking indicators (see box) and was hoped to become an annual exercise.

The aim of the scorecard was to promote and monitor nursing schools' responsiveness to Māori nursing students by identifying successful initiatives and areas for improvement so as to help boost the overall Māori nursing workforce, which at 6-7 per cent was low when Māori make up 15 per cent of the population.

Wilson said TEC stressed it could not guarantee the quality of the data and she advised caution in interpreting the results of this first scorecard. She also acknowledged there were probably ”some surprises” in the mix, and she hoped it would initiate discussion amongst nursing schools.

Jane Henderson, head of the top-ranked nursing school NorthTec, believed one key reason for its Māori students’ success rate was many of its students came through from its foundation studies and enrolled nursing programmes. “We simply want to make sure that they are better prepared before embarking on the degree programme so that they have the required skills to successfully achieve degree level education,” she said.

Thirty per cent of NorthTec’s nursing students in 2010 were Māori, and it had a 75 per cent graduation rate that year. Anderson said her staff’s relationship with students, particularly understanding cultural nuances like meeting whānau commitments, also played a large part.

Kathy Holloway, chair of NETS (Nurse Education in the Tertiary Sector), said it was useful to have baseline snapshot data to help identify specific workforce strategies that were useful. However, the next step would be further analysis to tease out the details behind the numbers.

The two schools with either a dedicated Māori stream (Waikato Institute of Technology) or dedicated Māori degree programme (Whitireia) came eighth and ninth, respectively.

Holloway, who is dean of Whitireia Community Polytechnic’s health faculty, said for Whitireia, the data on qualification completions reflected that its largest number of Māori enrolments were in its Bachelor of Nursing Māori, which did not graduate any students until 2012.

Sue Gasquoine, head of Unitec’s nursing school, which ranked bottom on the scorecard, believed that an upsurge in Māori enrolments in 2010 had skewed its graduation results.

“This is not a true reflection of the success of our students, and it is ironic that our success in attracting Māori nursing students has, due to the formulaic nature of this indicator, given a perception of poor performance.”

The scorecard showed Unitec having the lowest percentage of Māori students (4 per cent) and second to lowest graduation score for Māori students (22 per cent), but Gasquoine said it anticipated its completion rate to be more like 50-60 per cent for 2011. She said Unitec was implementing a range of measures to increase Māori student success, including the appointment of a Māori nurse staff member to support Māori students, mentoring of Māori foundation course students heading to nursing, and staff participation in te reo classes.

Annette Huntington, head of Massey University’s second-to-last ranked school, said it supported the principles behind the report and it was a valuable “wake-up” call, but it had question marks over the quality of the scorecard data and was “extremely concerned” about how it reflected Massey’s programme. The scorecard showed Massey having 6 per cent Māori students and a 31 per cent Māori graduation rate in 2010. Huntington acknowledged its numbers were low but said one of the reasons was a dedicated Māori nursing degree programme at the neighbouring Whitireia nursing school. She said she was unable to provide statistics on Massey’s Māori student success rate and acknowledged that Massey could do better and was working to do so, including talking to staff from Te Rau Puawai, Massey’s scholarship and support programme for Māori mental health workforce students, on how it could better support its Māori nursing students.

The scorecard can be found at: www.ngamanukura.co.nz

The scorecard indicators

• The percentage of Māori nursing students in degree programme

• The percentage of those completing their nursing degree that year

• The percentage retained (i.e. re-enrol or graduate)

• The percentage successfully completing courses that year.

NB: the first two indicators are weighted at 60 per cent and the latter two at 40 per cent.