New Zealand has various different types of institutions offering different types of courses and qualifications. All post-secondary education is called 'tertiary education', no matter what type of course or institution.
New Zealand has strict quality assurance systems to ensure the qualification and education students receive is meaningful and internationally recognised. The New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) sets and regulates qualifications, including those offered wholly to international students, and only those tertiary qualifications and providers that are quality assured by a Quality Assurance Body (QAB) can receive financial assistance from the government.
In New Zealand you will find:
There are eight New Zealand universities which run undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes. Universities are research-based and state-owned. The academic year runs from March to November (though some courses may start in January or July).
Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics
Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics are state-owned and the academic year is the same as universities. Courses are usually vocational and skills-based, ranging from certificate level through to degree and postgraduate level. Qualifications are of equivalent merit to those from universities.
Private Training Providers
There are many of these across New Zealand, often offering courses in a particular discipline such as business or hospitality. They are also required to be registered with the NZQA. Private English language schools may also belong to this category.
Wānanga is the term for the Māori education providers which provide tertiary education and advanced study on Māori tradition and custom, usually in the Māori language.
How to applyThere are ten levels of qualification in New Zealand:
- 1-4: Certificates
- 5-6: Diplomas
- 7: Bachelor's degree, graduate diplomas and certificates
- 8: Postgraduate diplomas and certificates, and bachelor's degrees with honours
- 9 & 10: Master's degrees and doctoral degrees
In New Zealand, institutions registered with the NZQA will offer internationally recognised qualifications, however some private institutions may offer students qualifications they have developed themselves. It is important to understand that this may not be a recognised qualification.
To ensure that you enrol on a quality course visit KiwiQuals, the New Zealand Register of Quality Assured Qualifications. All qualifications and institutions that have been approved can be found on this site. Also, all institutions that accept international students must be signatories of the Code of Practice.
For further information on internationally recognised qualifications and quality assurance visit NZQA, the government body responsible for assuring quality throughout tertiary education in New Zealand.
International students are usually required to apply to New Zealand institutions directly, or can apply through an international agent (please check with your chosen institution which agencies are contracted for this). The application process is generally much the same for universities, institutes of technology and polytechnics.
How to apply
You will normally be required to apply to an institution directly, though you should contact your chosen institution to find out how you can apply. Some applications can be done online and others require a postal application (forms can be downloaded from the institution's website or sent to you in an application pack). It is important that you apply as early as possible to allow yourself enough time to arrange for your visa, accommodation and travel once you have been accepted onto a course.
You may also be able to apply through a registered education agent. Contact your institution to find out which agents they use, or see this list of accredited New Zealand agents in each country.
Agents may be able to help you with choosing an institution and with the application and visa process, but will usually charge for this service.
New Zealand education institutions have different entry requirements, which can be found out by contacting the institution. You will need to be able to prove that you have qualifications necessary to study the level you are applying for. If you have a foreign qualification, the institution may advise you that it requires it to be assessed by the NZQA. This costs NZ$746 and takes up to eight weeks. Visit the NZQA website for more information.
- For courses starting in Semester 1 (February): October-December
- For courses starting in Semester 2 (July): April/May
English language requirements
- International English Language Testing System (IELTS) band score of 6 with no band less than 5.5
- Pass in English in the New Zealand Bursary examination or NCEA Level 3
- Pass in English in the General Certificate of Education (GCE) 'O' level examination
- TOEFL (Princeton Test of English as a Foreign Language) paper test (not the computer test) score of 550 and a TWE (Test of Written English) score of 4 (paper-based test) or 213, Essay rating 4.0 (Computer-based test)
- Grade C3 or above in Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) English 322
- Some other recognised English proficiency test