Tertiary education & training
In New Zealand tertiary education covers all education after secondary school, so it includes both higher education and vocational training.
New Zealand has a wide range of tertiary education options. There are education providers in each of the main centres and many satellite campuses in smaller areas.
The New Zealand tertiary sector covers private training establishments (PTEs), institutes of technology and polytechnics (ITPs), wānanga, universities and workplace training.
These offer a range of educational options, often in flexible ways such as distance learning, to meet the needs of adult learners. The New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) approves all qualifications for these institutions, apart from universities.
Almost 15% of adults were taking part in some kind of study at the time of the last Census, according to figures released by the Statistics Department in 2015.
Re-training later in life or studying for personal interest is common. The student population includes people from age 15 right up to 65+.
Our Study in NZ section has more information on:
- where and what you can study
- domestic and international fees
- the quality and international recognition of our qualifications
- what daily life as a student is like in New Zealand.
See our regional education pages for a list of tertiary institutions in your region.
Fees and associated costs
New Zealand resident visa holders are classified as domestic students in New Zealand. They only pay local fees for tertiary education.
New Zealand citizens are eligible to apply for student loans, the Student Allowance and the Fees Free policy when they begin studying. However, New Zealand residents must live in New Zealand for at least three years before they are eligible to apply for these.
Training or re-training as an adult
If you decide to move into another career or improve your current career prospects, going into training can be a good idea. However, you need to consider costs and other factors to see if that is the best decision for you. The careers.govt.nz website has advice on this.
You may also be able to get recognition of learning for credit, a system of recognising skills and knowledge you have gained from previous tertiary studies or through life or work experience. This can help you complete a course or qualification more quickly.
Training in trades
New Zealand offers various options to train for trades and other occupations.
You can do vocational training (training for a particular trade or type of job) while you are working, often as part of an apprenticeship. Vocational training is also available at many secondary schools, alongside core academic subjects.
Training qualifications are developed and managed by industry groups called Industry Training Organisations (ITOs). There are over 30 of them in New Zealand. These organisations cover a large range of industries including manufacturing, primary industries (eg agriculture), and trades (eg building).
The careers.govt.nz website has more information on the workplace training and apprenticeship opportunities available in New Zealand, and who to contact.
Each industry has different entry requirements, so check with the relevant ITO to find out more.
New Zealand apprenticeships
In New Zealand, all apprentice training comes under a programme called New Zealand Apprenticeships. It approves all apprenticeships and helps maintain standards. The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) website has more information on the programme.
The TEC also has a register of apprenticeships you can use to find out what is available and which ITO you should contact.
Adult and community education
Besides formal education courses, New Zealand offers a wide range of informal opportunities for education. This is often known as ACE - adult and community education.
ACE courses cover a wide range of topics — from improving your English or learning to use computers to understanding New Zealand systems.
Many universities, Institutes of Technology and polytechnics offer ACE courses. They are also offered by community providers and delivered in church halls, local schools, and even people’s homes.
See our regional education pages for information about the ACE opportunities where you live.