• NZ Higher Education

    Higher Education in New Zealand
    Although similar to the British higher education system, we’ve put together a brief guide to what’s what in the New Zealand system.

    State Owned
    State owned universities, polytechnics, colleges of education and wānanga (Māori centres of learning) are institutions that have been set up by the New Zealand government and approved by the Minister of Education.
    They are government funded and market responsive institutions that offer programmes of study and research in demand by both domestic and international students.

    New Zealand's eight universities are part of the international university community.
    Degree programmes from New Zealand universities are recognised internationally by all leading universities.

    There are 23 polytechnics or institutes of technology in New Zealand. Polytechnics have traditionally specialised in vocational training, but that role has expanded over the last decade to meet the needs of learners and the economy.
    Many are involved in research activities, particularly in applied and technological areas and other degrees.

    Colleges of Education
    Colleges of education provide programmes required for early childhood, primary and secondary school teaching qualifications.
    They also provide training for other occupational groups such as social workers. All courses involve supervised on-the-job training for students.

    Wānanga, Māori centres of tertiary learning, were established as tertiary education institutions in the last decade.
    These offer advanced study and research programmes where ahuatanga Māori (Māori tradition) and tikanga Māori (Māori custom) are an integral part of the programme.
    There are three wānanga in the public sector.

    Teacher Training
    New Zealand is internationally recognised for its excellent education standards and as a provider of quality teachers.
    There are six government-funded specialist education institutions, two operating from within universities, and the others offering their programmes in collaboration with their local university.

    They offer training for teachers from early childhood to primary, secondary, special and higher education level.

    Privately owned
    As well as state-owned education providers there are approximately 860 private training establishments (PTEs) in New Zealand.
    These PTE's are privately owned and funded, although some of their courses attract government funding. 

    They offer a wide variety of courses that lead to qualifications in a large range of vocations from scuba diving to hospitality to business.

    Who is responsible for the quality of education?
    All state-owned institutions enjoy a high degree of academic freedom.
    They determine their own curricula, appoint staff and determine conditions of service.
    They select students within limitations on numbers and choose their own programmes of research.

    However, to ensure that both the Government and individuals are investing in quality education, training and assessment, the Government has set up nationally recognised processes of quality assurance.

    There are a number of government appointed bodies responsible for approving qualifications in New Zealand and for the quality that underpins the delivery of qualifications. These bodies are:
    New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) - responsible for approving and registering all courses and national qualifications offered at polytechnics and private training establishments, also responsible for accrediting and registering private training establishments including wananga.
    In order to offer NZQA approved courses a PTE must be a registered provider with NZQA. NZQA also oversees and administers state secondary school qualifications.

    New Zealand Vice-Chancellors' Committee (NZVCC) - responsible for approving all diplomas, undergraduate and graduate programmes offered by New Zealand universities.
    ITPNZ - Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics of New Zealand - responsible for overseeing and approving all local qualifications offered at polytechnics.

    Association of Colleges of Education in New Zealand (ACENZ) - responsible for approving and overseeing qualifications offered at Colleges of Education in New Zealand.
    All qualifications approved by these organisations will be listed in the New Zealand Register of Quality Assured Qualifications.

  • Why study in NZ

    Why study in New Zealand?
    If you're wondering whether New Zealand is the right place to study for you, we outline some of the main reasons why the international student population in New Zealand has grown rapidly in recent years.

    Broad range of study and research opportunities
    The eight institutions that make up the New Zealand university system are located in cities across the country’s two main islands, the North and the South.

    This distribution gives students the chance to pursue a wide range of opportunities in study, work, recreation and culture.

    The proximity of all eight universities to New Zealand’s diverse natural environment offers students the chance to research anything from endangered marine mammals to earthquake engineering.
    Although all the universities offer core degrees in the arts, business and science, each also has its own distinctive profile.

    For example, Auckland and Otago have the country’s two medical schools, featuring hospital-based learning, whereas Canterbury and Auckland have an international profile for their engineering courses.

    A high quality learning experience
    The New Zealand university system is research-based, as it is historically based on the British higher education model. This means there are a number of similarities between the 2 systems, such as the names of qualifications, teaching methods, and the look and feel of the university campuses.

    All academic staff are expected to be active researchers as well as teachers. This insistence on research-informed teaching ensures a high quality learning experience.

    The universities' representative body, the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors' Committee, has legal responsibility for university course approval and moderation procedures.

    The New Zealand Universities Academic Audit Unit supports this quality assurance method. These systems certify that university education in New Zealand is of a consistently excellent standard.

    A degree recognised and valued by UK employers
    Students applying for jobs in the UK with a degree from New Zealand are highly sought after by UK employers. Employers are seeking out graduates with a global perspective and completing your degree overseas is a great way of achieving this.

    Moderate entry requirements
    Unlike the situation in the UK and many other countries, New Zealand does not have massive competition to enter the first year of a university degree. This is because the New Zealand government has invested heavily in university education over the years.

    As a result New Zealand has more capacity than it has students. Good students with moderate grades can gain entry to most Bachelor degree programmes without any problems. Therefore, entry requirements are moderate compared with most of the top universities in the UK.

    A welcoming destination
    International students are welcomed by New Zealand society, both for the cultural diversity they bring and their contribution to the economy.

    They are gladly received into New Zealand homes and student social networks. New Zealanders are well travelled, with a great interest in people from other cultures, so visitors and international students soon feel more than welcome.

    Campuses are highly international, with students from all corners of the globe studying and socialising together. Students come from Europe, South East Asia, the UK, North Asia, Japan, South America, India, and Australia, amongst many others.

    New Zealand also has a well-developed system of pastoral care for international students, backed by a government-monitored Code of Practice. This means you will be well looked after during your time studying there.

    The country has a comparatively low cost of living, abundant fresh food at reasonable prices and a wide variety of student accommodation options.

    Transport is also moderately priced, affording easy access to rivers, mountains, lakes, forests and beaches and the recreational opportunities they provide.

    Beautiful location
    New Zealand is renowned for its natural beauty and its adventure activities, and all this is readily accessible from all eight universities in the country.

  • Applying

    Applying to university in New Zealand

    When to apply
    Before you start applying, it’s a good idea to check the closing dates for the course(s) you wish to apply for on the university website.
    This is so you have plenty of time to prepare for your intended start date.

    If you intend to start in February (semester 1), it is recommended you submit your application by 1st November at the latest.
    If you wish to start in July (semester 2), it is recommended you submit your application by 1st May at the latest. 

    Ideally, you should start researching and applying for courses around 6 months before your intended start date.

    How to apply
    All universities will have a section for international students on their website, which will contain instructions on how to apply.

    Usually, this will involve you filling out their application form, and sending it off with the following documents:
    A certified copy of an English language test certificate, such as TOEFL or IELTS, (if English is not your first language).
    Originals or certified true copies of all relevant academic documents (transcripts as well as the award certificate). If necessary, an official translation of documents must also be provided.
    You will also be asked to provide:
    a passport-sized photo
    a certified copy of your birth certificate or passport
    references for any relevant work experience.
    Before submitting your application, check that you have filled out the application form correctly and in full, and that you have attached all the documents the university asks you to provide. 

    If you miss something, it may delay your application so that you can not start your course on the intended date.

  • Entry requirements

    Entry Requirements for New Zealand Universities

    Academic qualifications
    Each institution sets its own entry requirements, and you will find that they vary between the eight universities.
    Your application will normally be assessed on your current level of qualification. 

    For example, if you have UK or Irish qualifications, you may have A Levels, Scottish Highers or Advanced Highers, Irish School Leaving Certificate, BTEC National Diploma, International Baccalaureate, or a degree from a UK or Irish university. 

    These qualifications are all accepted for entrance to a degree programme at all the universities in New Zealand, although you may have to sit extra tests if you are applying to study medicine or dentistry.

    To make sure you meet all the admissions criteria for the course(s) you wish to apply for, contact the International Office at the institution(s) you are applying to and check.

    English Language proficiency
    If English is not your first language, you will also need to be able to prove that you are reasonably proficient at English.

    You can do this by taking an IELTS or TOEFL test, the results of which you will have to submit along with your application form. 

    For this, there will normally be a minimum score you must achieve in order to be accepted on to the course.

  • Choosing a University

    Choosing a university in New Zealand
    When deciding which university to attend in New Zealand, there are several factors you will need to consider. 

    First, think about where you would like to be located  - the North Island has 12 cities including Auckland, the largest.
    It is also the most heavily populated island, with roughly 76% of the population living here.  

    In contrast, the South Island is home to only 24% of the population, even though it is a larger landmass.
    It has many national parks, and is popular with tourists due to this, along with the large number of ski resorts and natural geographic features such as fjords and volcanoes.
    Ask yourself if you want to live in one of New Zealand's big cities or if you'd prefer somewhere quieter.
    Remember that the cost of living can be significantly greater than living somewhere more rural, which may affect your budgeting. 

    You may also want to consider:
    Does the university have all the facilities you require, such as a gym, outdoor sports grounds, car parking, etc? 
    How big is the university itself, and how many students attend? Would you prefer to go to a larger or smaller institution?
    Based on your expected A level grades, is it likely you would get onto your course following a conditional offer from the university?

    University locations
    The University of Auckland and AUT University are situated in Auckland, where a quarter of the population live. 

    On the other end of the geographical scale, Lincoln University is situated on the rural outskirts of the largest South Island city, Christchurch, with the snow-covered Southern Alps as a backdrop.

    Victoria University of Wellington’s location in New Zealand’s capital city gives it proximity to government and its agencies in a harbour-side setting. 

    The other North Island universities – Waikato and Massey – are located in the provincial cities of Hamilton and Palmerston North, ideal for international courses in the agriculture and horticulture industries.
    Massey also has campuses in Auckland and Wellington.

    The University of Canterbury’s roots lie in the heart of Christchurch and it is now located on an expansive, leafy campus which is still close to the city centre.
    Dunedin, New Zealand’s southernmost major centre, with a strong Scottish and architectural heritage, is home to the University of Otago.

    University profiles
    Auckland and Otago have the country’s two medical schools, featuring hospital-based learning; AUT University has a reputation for being highly innovative with applied knowledge. 

    Waikato has a strong background in indigenous culture and a successful business school, while Canterbury and Auckland have an international profile for their engineering schools. 

    Veterinary science, food technology and land production are among the strengths of Massey University; Victoria is strong on public policy, international relations, law and governance; and Lincoln has strengths in land-based sciences and environmental studies.

    Academic excellence
    First of all, be sure the courses provided by the institution are of high quality, with an excellent standard of teaching.
    You can look at Canadian university rankings to see which ones score the highest here.

    However, keep in mind that the best universities in New Zealand according to rankings does not include all the variables that make up an ideal place to study. 

    All universities have strengths and weaknesses, and although a list of top universities might have greater strengths than weaknesses relative to other institutions, any student who completes a degree at one of these top universities might encounter the 'weakness' when they might have experienced the 'strength' of another university.

    International student support
    It’s worth investigating how good the course is for international students by seeing if the institution has an International Student Program Director, help with housing, an orientation to the university, city and New Zealand education system, as well as advice services specifically for international students.
    In other words, make sure that help will always be there when you need it.

    A good course will also provide opportunities to meet New Zealand students and will offer social events and an opportunity to get involved in student activities.

    You will also need to take into account financial considerations, as costs can vary greatly from institution to institution. 

    You will find that your living costs will be more expensive if you attend a university in one of the larger cities such as Auckland or Christchurch, and your accommodation is located in the centre.
    To save yourself some money, try to find accommodation further out of the city, though make sure transport links are accessible and reliable.

    Compare living costs carefully so you can stay somewhere convenient at a reasonable price.

    Scholarships and awards for international students are available at some New Zealand institutions for students with exceptional results.
    The amount and type of award varies from one institution to another.
    Obtaining a scholarship is competitive and applications must be made directly to each university. 

    Ask the institution for information on financial aid when you request an application form from their admissions office.

    You can read more about funding your higher education in New Zealand in our finance section.

    Further research
    If you have any friends or relatives who have studied in New Zealand, it’s worth talking to them to find out about their experiences, and what advice they can offer you in choosing a place to study.

    It’s important to research universities and colleges carefully so you choose the ones that will meet your needs and interests – spending time and effort on choosing an institution can ensure you have a successful and rewarding experience. 

    If you can not find all the information you require about a particular institution on their website, contact them and ask for it.

  • Choosing a Degree

    Choosing a degree in New Zealand
    We recommend you consider the following factors when deciding which degree to study in New Zealand.

    Do I have the right qualifications?
    Although universities in New Zealand accept A levels to enter a course in higher education, you will need to check carefully that you have, or will expect to have, the right grades to get onto the course, as well as the right subjects.

    Some degree programmes, such as Medicine, require you to have high grades in subjects such as Biology and Chemistry.

    To find out the exact admission criteria for the course you wish to apply for, contact the International Office at all the universities you are considering applying to in New Zealand.

    Compare courses
    All national qualifications offered by the full range of secondary and tertiary providers, including universities, polytechnics, colleges of education and private training providers are listed on the New Zealand Register of Quality Assured Qualifications.

    You can find and compare these qualifications on a website called KiwiQuals.
    The Register has been developed to give all students, both local and international, a clear and coherent picture of New Zealand's education and training products. 

    KiwiQuals can help you identify the best learning path for your particular field of interest and ensure that all courses you are considering are quality assured national qualifications.

    For example, if you are interested in Engineering, you can access KiwiQuals, and find and compare all the qualifications available throughout the country.

    What will I learn?
    Read all the details about the course in the university prospectus.
    This doesn’t mean just skimming the summary – you need to look at what the module options are and their content, as these can vary significantly.

    Although a particular course may have the same or similar title at two different universities, the content can vary a great deal.

    Each course may place emphasis on different areas of the subject, so find out exactly what you'll be learning.

    You may also find it useful to make a list of your academic strengths and weaknesses, so you can see which courses you think you will be better at and enjoy more.

    How will I be taught?
    The teaching style of the course is important, as some courses will consist of more practical work, essay assignments and group tasks than examinations. 

    If you take this into account, you can play to your strengths and ensure you’ve chosen the course that is best for you.

    Think about previous experiences – do you achieve better marks in essays and exams? If yes, you may want to choose a course that is more exam-based. 

    Look at the weighting of marks, too – it may not want to take a course that allocates a majority of the total marks to coursework, and then have to do lots of revision for an exam at the end of the year that doesn't carry many marks.

    Does it include a work experience placement?
    Some courses include a period of work experience – this is normally for a year between the second and third year of your degree, though can vary slightly depending on the subject and the university you are attending. 

    A work experience placement will be very useful if you only have limited experience of the field you want to go into, or no experience at all, as it will provide you with invaluable skills employers will look for when you start applying for jobs. 

    Working for a year can also be a welcome break from all the stresses of studying for your degree and give you an insight into what the real world will be like when you’ve graduated.

    It can also help you develop important skills such as communication, team work and problem solving, as well as being an opportunity to meet new people and make some friends. 

    You don’t have to work somewhere in the UK either – some courses offer students the chance to take a job at a company abroad.

    This would allow you to experience a different culture, language, and possibly even a different climate!

    How many modules can I choose from?
    Usually your first year modules will be compulsory, but you should get a choice of modules in your second and third years.
    This allows you to study the particular areas of your subject that you find most interesting. 

    For example, if you wish to take a biology degree, you may want to choose modules that cover cellular topics, such as immunology and biochemistry, rather than modules that focus on nature and the environment.

    You may also want to pick modules that go into more depth on a certain subject, or if you prefer, ones that give more of a general overview of a topic.

    Check there is a wide choice of modules and that the topics you are keen on are included in the range.
    You'll be disappointed if you get to choosing your modules for the final 2 years and discover you can't learn about the topics you wanted to.

    Can I change my course once I’ve started it?
    Although you may have pretty much decided on a course based on the details of the content and the nature of the work involved, you might want to consider whether you are able to change your course after you’ve started it.

    Most universities will let you change your degree as long as it’s within the first 4 to 6 weeks or so.
    This is an invaluable option if you haven’t yet decided which career path to follow.

    Making a final decision

    If you take these factors into account when choosing which degree to undertake, hopefully you will find it easier to make the right decision and you’ll be happy with your choice once you’ve started your course.

    It’s important to try and pick the right course first time, otherwise you could end up wasting thousands of pounds on a degree that you won’t even use in your career once you’ve graduated. 

    If you already have a career path in mind, such as IT, journalism or medicine, then this should make your decision much easier.

    However, if you’re still undecided, it’s probably worth taking a subject that you enjoy doing and/or are quite good at.
    At least this way you will be enthusiastic about it and feel like you can stick with it until the end.

  • Visas

    Visas for New Zealand Universities
    You will need a New Zealand Student Visa to study for your degree, which allows you to attend a particular institution as a full-time student.

    Requirements for a student visa in New Zealand
    Before you apply, ensure that you understand the requirements that you need to meet, and the requirements that your course must meet.

    The first essential is to have an offer of a place from a New Zealand education provider. The offer must include:
    the name of the course and the minimum time required for completing it
    proof that the course and course provider meet New Zealand’s requirements for international students
    the amount of the fee for the complete course or, if the course is longer than one year, the annual fee
    whether you have to pay course fees and whether the fees are domestic or foreign 
    whether you are studying full-time or part-time.
    Your course must be approved by the NZQA.

    You have to meet health and character requirements and prove to the immigration service that your intent is genuine.

    Evidence of funds to support yourself
    To gain your student visa or permit, you must prove that you can meet your living costs during your stay. Suitable evidence for this may include:
    enough money held in New Zealand by you or on your behalf
    an undertaking by another person to cover your accommodation and living costs (you must provide this before you leave for New Zealand)
    an undertaking by a New Zealand sponsor to cover your accommodation and living costs, or
    financial assistance available to you under aid programmes operated in New Zealand by a government agency.
    Since a degree course lasts more than nine months, you’ll also need to show that you have access to:
    NZ$10,000 per year to cover your costs during your stay in New Zealand, or
    if you are a citizen of Samoa or Tonga, a written guarantee from a relative who is a New Zealand citizen or resident that they will cover your living costs.

    Proof that you plan to leave
    So that the immigration service can be sure you will leave New Zealand when you have finished your course of study, you will need to show how you will leave New Zealand.
    For example, you might hold travel tickets out of New Zealand to a country you are allowed to enter, or evidence of enough money held in New Zealand, additional to the funds you’ll need for your living expenses.

    You must have a passport that is valid for at least three months past the end of your intended stay.

    Permit requirements during your stay
    Once you have your student visa, you must meet certain conditions during your stay:
    You must attend the place of study noted in your permit. However, you can apply to change your course or institution
    You must be able to show that you are passing your course
    You may only undertake work allowed by your student permit
    You must obey New Zealand’s laws
    You must stay in New Zealand only for the time allowed by your permit.
    If you break any of these conditions, your permit may be revoked.

    Medical insurance
    You must have appropriate and current medical and travel insurance while you're studying in New Zealand.
    Student permit holders are generally not eligible for publicly funded health and disability services.

    When you apply for a student visa, you will need to pay a fee. This is currently £80 if you are applying from the UK.

  • Universities and Colleges

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