Financial literacy programme a New Zealand first for tertiary education

Wednesday 20 June 2012, 12:21PM
By Porter Novelli New Zealand


Research shows the majority of tutors providing financial education do not receive any specialist training or professional development

Porirua tertiary students are soon to receive a helping hand to manage their money through access to vital financial literacy education from skilled trainers, thanks to a unique partnership between Visa and Whitireia Polytechnic.

The partnership will see Visa fund a pilot programme of up to 15 tutors from Whitireia Polytechnic to attend an advanced course that will develop the content and skills they need to deliver financial education. The course aims to improve the financial planning and management advice delivered to New Zealand students.

The idea for the programme stems from a joint research[1] project between the Commission for Financial Literacy and Retirement Income and Visa that examined ways to increase the quality of formal financial education in New Zealand.

Retirement Commissioner Diana Crossan says the pilot programme is the first of its kind in New Zealand and if successful she hopes it can be replicated by other tertiary education providers.

“We know that the earlier young people become financially literate the better it is for their financial well-being throughout life. For many young people tertiary study offers them their first taste of financial independence. They face decisions about student loans, flatting and part time jobs and it’s vital that they have the knowledge to make good financial decisions that will set them up for their adult life. We need to make sure that those who are teaching financial literacy have the level of skill and knowledge required to give their students the tools they need.”

A key finding of the research project is that tutors providing financial education tend to be adult educators without specific expertise in financial literacy. Only 47 percent of financial literacy tutors had received training or professional development, and what they had received was not exclusively linked to financial literacy.

“Our research with Visa found there was a gap in professional development opportunities for tutors and trainers in the tertiary sector, meaning they often lack formal training to deliver financial education to young people. Therefore, we are delighted to form a partnership with Visa, which will see Visa funding the programme at Whitireia Polytechnic,” Ms Crossan says.

Visa’s Country Manager New Zealand, Sean Preston says Visa is committed to improving the financial literacy of New Zealanders.

“Financial literacy gives people choice, financial protection and enables them to be informed when making financial decisions. We are excited about our partnership with Whitireia Polytechnic and believe formal programmes such as this are a vital step toward achieving a more financially savvy New Zealand.”

“We hope this programme will be far reaching, improving not just the financial literacy of students but also their families and helping them make good choices about their spending now, as well as affecting their financial decisions in the future,” says Don Campbell, Chief Executive of Whitireia New Zealand.

The pilot programme will be evaluated for effectiveness, measured by shifts in financial literacy in both students and tutors. Tutors will also need to describe how they have integrated financial literacy into teaching programmes, resulting in a more financially literate culture within Whitireia.

“The research report identified that few programmes are properly evaluated to see if they are effective in raising levels of financial literacy. This pilot programme provides a unique opportunity to develop a best practice programme that can be rolled out across other tertiary education providers, ultimately impacting thousands of Kiwi students,” says Ms Crossan.

The full findings from the report are available online at

About the Commission for Financial Literacy and Retirement Income:
The Commission for Financial Literacy and Retirement Income (formerly the Retirement Commission) is an autonomous crown entity helping New Zealanders to be financially sorted throughout their lives. Key activities are providing financial education and carrying out regular reviews of retirement income policy. The Commission is led by Retirement Commissioner Diana Crossan and the organisation is best known to New Zealanders through its free, independent Sorted website and related resources. For more information visit

About Visa:
Visa is a global payments technology company that connects consumers, businesses, financial institutions and governments in more than 200 countries and territories to fast, secure and reliable digital currency. Underpinning digital currency is one of the world’s most advanced processing networks—VisaNet—that is capable of handling more than 20,000 transaction messages a second, with fraud protection for consumers and guaranteed payment for merchants. Visa is not a bank, and does not issue cards, extend credit or set rates and fees for consumers. Visa’s innovations, however, enable its financial institution customers to offer consumers more choices: Pay now with debit, ahead of time with prepaid or later with credit products. For more information, visit


[1] The research was conducted by the Commission for Financial Literacy and Retirement Income, with support from Visa. The research was conducted in October to December 2011, using and online survey and a series of interviews with key players in the financial education and financial literacy sector.