Where & what to study
Tertiary education here is delivered by a wide range of providers including Universities, Institutes of Technology, Polytechnics, Private Training Establishments and Industry Training Organisations.
Education providers offers qualifications at every level - certificates, diplomas, graduate and post-graduate degrees. They’re all ranked on what’s called the New Zealand Qualifications Framework. The NZQA website has details of the different levels of qualification available and where they fit on the Framework.
Another great source of information is the Careers NZ site. It has a ‘job library’ you can use to search for descriptions of what people actually do in that sort of job, what skills and qualifications you need, what you might earn and what opportunities there are for employment.
Universities, Institutes of Technology/Polytechnics, and Wānanga
New Zealand has eight universities that offer academic programmes, rather than vocational.
All New Zealand’s universities offer a broad range of subjects for undergraduate, Masters and Doctoral (PhD) degrees in commerce, science and the humanities. Some universities offer degrees in specialist fields - such as medicine, agriculture, engineering, etc. A number of universities have more than one campus, often located in different cities, and some have overseas programmes.
New Zealand also has 18 Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs). They provide professional and vocational education and training ranging from introductory studies through to full degree programmes. Many ITPs also offer English language training and postgraduate study options, including up to Doctoral (PhD) level. Courses are more vocationally oriented, emphasising practical experience and application to work situations. A degree from one of these institutions has equal status with a university degree.
There are three Wānanga in Aotearoa New Zealand. These tertiary institutions offer teaching and learning environments that are based on Māori values and principles. Many offer qualifications in te reo Māori (Māori language), teaching, nursing, business, health, English language and Māori arts. Wānanga offer many undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, including master’s and doctoral (PhD) level qualifications.
Private Training Institutions and English language schools
You also have the choice of 600 registered Private Training Establishments (PTEs). PTE courses are generally specific to English language learning or niche occupations such as travel and tourism, design and ICT.
Most PTEs provide certificate and diploma level qualifications, but some also deliver Bachelor and Masters degrees. They also normally have flexible start dates throughout the year.
Many international students enrol in English for Academic Study courses prior to formal academic studies. Special English language courses are available throughout the year, and range from four weeks to 12 months.
Students who are competent in English often do short-term foundation studies or pre-university orientation studies at PTEs or universities.
The Tertiary Education Commission and NZQA oversee education providers in New Zealand. The TEC website has information about how the various institutions are performing.Educational performance | TEC
To study for diplomas and degrees at Universities, Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics, students coming through New Zealand’s secondary school system generally need NCEA Level 3 qualifications.
Students from overseas need to be able to show they’ve achieved a similar University entrance level of education - that can include GCSE A levels for students from the UK, Hong Kong ‘A’ Levels, STPM /Malaysian Higher School Certificate Australian Matriculation Year 12 Certificate. They also need to be able to prove their English skills.
The Universities New Zealand website has more information about the admission requirements for students with overseas qualifications.
Domestic students over 20 don’t need formal qualifications to apply for entry.
Students can also do short-term foundation studies or pre-university orientation studies at PTEs or universities to prepare for university-level study. You need to check with the tertiary education provider you’re considering.
Once you’ve found the institution and course you want, you’ll need to complete and return the relevant paperwork. Once accepted, the institution will send you an 'offer of place' letter and once you’ve paid the fees, the institution will send you a ‘confirmed offer of place’.
If your course is for less than 12 weeks, or your country has a visa-free agreement with New Zealand, you don’t need a visa.
In all other cases you’ll need to apply for a New Zealand student visa and be able to show the confirmed offer.
International Students - For more detailed information on courses, institutions and applying, visit Education New Zealand’s Study in New Zealand website.
For information specifically on doctoral studies, visit their section on post graduate study.
Fees and allowances
Students with ‘domestic’ status have their fees subsidised by the government, although they’re expected to contribute about 30% of the cost of their course. That applies to New Zealand citizens and holders of residents’ visas. There are some other categories of people eligible for domestic status – check the Ministry of Education website for more information.
Other students can access tertiary education in New Zealand but they pay international fees.
Fees can vary widely depending on the course and the institution, so check the websites of the institutions you’re considering.
In some cases, you might be eligible for the government's fees free scheme – check their website.
Student loans, allowances and the fees free policy
Citizens and residents must be resident in New Zealand for at least three years before they are eligible to apply for any of these:
- a student allowance, which will help with living costs
- a student loan to help pay for fees and course-related costs
- the fees free policy.
Loans need to be repaid, but allowances don’t.
Check the Study link website for information about loans and allowances, including eligibility.
New Zealand is a young country where independence, initiative and resourcefulness are more highly regarded than status or rules. As a student here you’ll be encouraged to be questioning, flexible and to seek your own answers by thinking for yourself. Learning here rewards inventiveness and creativity.