Learner component – Unified Funding System

Learner component – Unified Funding System

Last updated 24 February 2023
Last updated 24 February 2023

The learner component is one of three funding components in the unified funding system (UFS) for vocational education and training.

For information on the other two, see strategic component and delivery component.

About the learner component

The learner component substantially increases funding for providers to support all learners, particularly those who traditionally have not been well served by the education system. It recognises that there are higher costs involved in adapting education delivery and support to meet learners’ unique needs. The learner component is intended to support Tertiary Education Organisations (TEOs) to put learners at the centre of their organisations and to improve outcomes for learners.

How is the learner component calculated?

Learner component funding is calculated based on the enrolments of four groups of learners who traditionally have not been well served by the VET system. It applies to learners in all modes of delivery (of the delivery component) aside from assessment and verification.

Which learners traditionally have not been well served?  

We have identified four groups for whom the system has not previously worked as well as it could. These groups are:

  • learners with low prior achievement
  • disabled learners
  • Māori learners
  • Pacific learners.

These groups serve as a proxy for learners who need additional support to be successful in VET – in other words, a way to allocate funding across the VET system in a reasonably straightforward way. This does not mean that funding should only be used for learners in these four groups. Instead, providers will be expected to identify the unique needs of all their learners, make decisions about how to support them, and allocate funding accordingly.

How will TEOs know what TEC expects them to do to support their learners?

TEC will identify and set performance expectations for how TEOs support their learners’ success. The performance expectations will be relevant and tailored to each TEO and the needs of their learner populations. This will be part of the TEO’s annual investment plan process within a TEO’s learner success plan, where appropriate.

An incentive payment will be paid to each TEO on achieving the performance expectations set by TEC. Performance expectations will be a combination of quantitative and qualitative measures and milestones, with an initial focus on organisational capability-building.

Incentive payments will be introduced over time, with an initial focus on TEOs with significant levels of Learner Component Funding and with a requirement for learner success plans.

Implementation of the incentive payments for the learner component

TEC is taking a phased approach to implementing the incentive payments paid to TEOs on achieving learner component performance expectations.

For 2023:

In 2023, incentive payments for the learner component will be implemented through a targeted approach with nine TEOs who are currently delivering a significant amount of vocational education.

The nine TEOs are:

  • Te Pūkenga
  • NZ Management Academies Ltd
  • NZ Tertiary College
  • ATC NZ
  • Cornerstone Education Ltd
  • The Electrical Training Company
  • Ignite Colleges
  • Vertical Horizonz NZ Ltd
  • Te Wānanga o Aotearoa

The Minister has set the priorities for the nine TEOs taking part in the targeted implementation. He has asked them to demonstrate how they will deliver results for VET learners (including, where relevant, in supporting employers who deliver VET) by building specific capability to:

  • addressing racism, bias and low expectations that impact VET learners and their whānau
  • strengthening mechanisms to hear and act on VET learner voice and understand the views of whānau and communities about VET
  • reducing barriers for VET learners, particularly in accessing work-based learning, and supporting them to be successful in VET
  • ensuring VET teaching and learning meets learner, employer and industry needs, and delivers skills relevant for the workplace.

TEC will agree performance expectations with each of the specified TEOs based on these priorities, and incentive payments will be paid once these performance expectations are achieved. Incentive payments will be 20 percent of each TEO’s learner component funding.

This means that for 2023, TEOs not selected for the targeted implementation will receive incentive payments without needing to meet learner component-specific performance expectations.

For 2024:

In 2024, the learner component incentive payments will be rolled out to all TEOs receiving funding through the learner component of the UFS.

How do TEOs apply for the learner component funding?

TEOs won’t need to apply for learner component funding. It is allocated as part of TEOs’ overall funding for VET.

Learner component FAQs