Research and Innovation

From 2022, we have taken a new approach to restart the Ako Aotearoa Research and Innovation Agenda (AARIA) programme. Future focused, considered and coherent, the programme for the next nine years involves collaboratively working with tertiary education organisations, researchers, and educators to develop new knowledge to inform improved ways of teaching and learning in Aotearoa New Zealand. With the appointment of the Programme Manager, Research and Innovation, Dr Marvin Hao Wu in May 2023, and the internal research steering group led by Dr. Wu, Ako Aotearoa is implementing its next phase of the AARIA programme, with annual budget of up to $500,000.

AARIA 2024 introduces broader priorities reflecting high-level funding focuses and targeted priorities that pinpoint specific areas for growth or change in research, learning, and teaching (Please download the AARIA 2024 Flyer to see the full priority list). The AARIA priorities align with the expectations of the National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence (NCTTE) funding goal 2. TEC guidance clearly states that the NCTTE Fund is to:

  1. Build teaching capability of TEOs and educators.
  2. Commission and conduct research, monitoring and evaluation about effective teaching.
  3. Provide associated advice to the sector and government agencies.
  4. Administer the Tertiary Teaching Awards.

For more information, download the following resources:

Strategic goals

There are five strategic goals for Ako Aotearoa aligned to the Tertiary Education Strategy to inform the AARIA priorities:

  1. As a Te Tiriti-o Waitangi-led organisation Ako Aotearoa seeks to be a leading body in the tertiary education sector in a diverse Aotearoa New Zealand.
  2. To lead change in teaching and learning excellence and educational capability, being agile, adaptive, and impactful to support the Tertiary Education Strategy priorities.
  3. To champion learners as Ako partners, valuing their experiences, voices, and aspirations and those of whānau and communities.
  4. Barrier-free access and strengths-based approaches to improve educational and other outcomes particularly for Māori and Pacific Peoples.
  5. To lead and build language, literacy, numeracy, and cultural educator capability in tertiary foundation and bridging education and workplace learning in Aotearoa.

The importance of research and innovation across the tertiary education system

Each level of the tertiary education system wants the same outcomes for ākonga, but each level has different knowledge needs to achieve this. For example:

  • Government is interested in knowing about: the extent to which the objectives of the Tertiary Education Strategy (TES) are being met; the extent to which the RoVE changes are providing a coherent, seamless learning experience; and how to achieve equitable outcomes for Māori, Pacific, disabled, and neurodiverse ākonga.
  • Organisations and educators are interested in knowing about: ways to build the capability of those delivering education and training (i.e. educators, advisors, employers); a pedagogy of equity; how to use an equity lens to know more about the conditions for learner success related to teaching and learning; assessment; support services; and data and technology.
  • Ākonga want a range of factors that improve their learning experience and for their voices to be heard (Based on the Te Rito reports).

Supporting Documents


AARIA 2024 Flyer

An overview of the proposed broader and targeted priorities, along with funded projects for AARIA 2024.

(PDF, 398 KB)

  • 5 December 2023


AARIA Presentation | Funding Change Projects in the Tertiary Education Sector

An AARIA Presentation by Dr. Marvin Hao Wu explores funding strategies for transformative projects in the tertiary education sector.

(PPTX, 3.4 MB)

  • 5 December 2023


Ako Aotearoa's Impact Evaluation Framework

This framework (IEF) is a tool developed to measure Ako Aotearoa’s impact on the tertiary education system of New Zealand.

(PDF, 224 KB)

  • 12 September 2021

Corporate publication

Contributing to better tertiary teaching and learning outcomes – the summary

A summary of two reports on the impact of Ako Aotearoa’s co-funded projects, Prepared by Linda Keesing-Styles for Ako Aotearoa. Published July 2017.

(PDF, 427 KB)

  • 17 May 2023

Corporate publication

Contributing to better tertiary teaching learning and outcomes – the full reports

Report on the value of co-funded projects for budget-holders, practitioners and learners, prepared by Fleur Chauvel for Ako Aotearoa. Published July 2017.

(PDF, 2.1 MB)

  • 17 May 2023


REPORT | Creating sustainable change to improve outcomes for tertiary learners

A framework for thinking about projects in tertiary education. Report prepared for Ako Aotearoa by Anne Alkema. Published 2012.

(PDF, 1.6 MB)

  • 19 September 2021

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