NZ Code of Practice 2021-22

Phase One: Disability Action Plan (DAP)

A fully inclusive tertiary education system recognises and values diversity, including disabled learners, and is fundamental to the ongoing sustainability of tertiary education.


  • review of current activities – including how disabled learners are achieving
  • devising of policies and programmes
  • goals and targets
  • evaluation strategies
  • allocation of responsibility and resources
  • communication of policies and programmes.

Twenty-four percent of people in our community have impairments. So the potential growth of disabled learners as fee paying students is enormous and fundamental to the sustainability of tertiary providers.

The Tertiary Education Commission infosheet Education and employment outcomes for disabled people (2019) shows that disabled learners are equally likely to complete their Bachelors or higher qualifications as non-disabled people.

Myth busting

The Statistics New Zealand 2013 and 2018 Census’ for household labour force information indicates that:2 3 4 5

  • 24% of our total population has an impairment lasting six months or more.
  • The rate of impairment increases with age.
  • Māori are more likely to have impairments and have higher disability rates in all age groups than any other ethnic groups, despite their young age profile.
  • Education and employment outcomes are much worse for Māori disabled people than any other ethnic group.
  • Disabled people are less likely than non-disabled people to hold a formal qualification. In June 2018, 59.6% of disabled people held a formal qualification, compared with 83.2% of non-disabled people, a gap of 23.6% and 19.5% for those aged 15-64 years.
  • In June 2020, 48.2% of young disabled people (15–24 years) were not in employment, education or training, compared with 10.6% for non-disabled youth.
  • Between 2012 and 2017 6 only 2% of disabled people gained a Bachelors or higher qualification compared to 8% of non-disabled people. However, of the disabled learners enrolled in Bachelors or higher qualifications, 58% completed their qualification, a rate similar to their non-disabled peers.
  • In 2019, the TEC found that if given the right support these disabled learners were equally likely to complete their qualification as their non-disabled people. The difference in completion rates at Bachelors and all other levels, compared with non-disabled learners, wasn’t statistically significant.
  • Disabled people are less likely to be employed than non-disabled people by a significant margin, a gap of 39.6% (December 2020, 38.7% vs 78.3% of those 15-64 years).
  • Disabled people are also more likely to work part time, mostly in manual, low skilled and low income jobs, and are under-represented in higher-income occupations.
  • It has been reported that disabled people with qualifications were employed at the same rate as non-disabled people without qualifications.
  • In 2013, 74% of disabled people not employed wanted a job and only 10% of employed disabled people required modifications or equipment to help them do their job, and only 28% had difficulty doing some tasks or duties.
  • Therefore, the majority of disabled people required similar workplace support as the general population.

2. Statistics New Zealand. (2013). Labour Market findings from the 2013 New Zealand Census. Wellington, New Zealand: Statistics New Zealand.

3. Statistics New Zealand. (2020). The disability gap 2018. Wellington, New Zealand: Statistics New Zealand.

4. Statistics New Zealand. (2020). Disability Status: The findings from the 2018 New Zealand Census. Wellington, New Zealand: Statistics New Zealand.

5. Statistics New Zealand. (2020). Measuring inequality for disabled New Zealanders: 2018. Wellington, New Zealand: Statistics New Zealand.

6. Tertiary Education Commission. (2019). TEC Infosheet: Education and employment outcomes for disabled people. Tertiary Education Commission. p. 1-2.

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