Education system in New Zealand

Let’s get you acquainted with New Zealand’s education system.

Academic excellence, experienced faculties, globally recognised qualifications, brilliant teaching approach and abundant research opportunities, the education system of New Zealand will give you an exposure like never before. Learning here comes with an international outlook that prepares students for employment across the globe.

Study levels

Education in New Zealand is categorised under five stages:

  • Early childhood: for ages up to five years
  • Primary school: for ages 5 to 10 years
  • Intermediate school: for ages 11 to 12 years
  • Secondary school: for ages 13 to 18 years
  • Tertiary education: 18 years and above

The highest level of education and qualifications at all levels is provided by the universities which offers both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. There are many flexible pathway programs as well that are provided by a variety of institutions in the system to help gain admission into these universities.

New Zealand also has many lot of Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs) and Private Training Establishments (PTEs) that offer vocational degree-level education, certification and diploma.

Qualifications framework

The foundation of New Zealand education system lies in the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF). Secondary and tertiary qualifications that come under the NZQF come with quality assurance and global recognition.

Higher education

Under its tertiary education system, New Zealand offers advanced degrees, which can be categorised under bachelors, masters and doctoral. New Zealand has eight funded universities that offer higher degree-level education, 16 Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs) offering vocational courses degree and over 700 Private Training Establishments (PTEs) offering certificates or diplomas. All of these qualifications are highly sought after and recognised globally. Teaching may take place in large group lectures or small group tutorials.

Type of institutionQualification offered
UniversitiesUndergraduate degree, postgraduate diploma/degree, PhD
Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs)Graduate diploma, postgraduate diploma, certificates
Private Training Establishments (PTEs)Certificate, diploma

Pathway programs

A great way for international students to enter higher level education is through pathway programs. These include foundation courses and English language programs that offer additional support or assistance international students may require so as to get accustomed to a new way of learning.

Fee structure

New Zealand offers an array of value-for-money educational programs. Tuition fee vary on the type of course and its duration since each institution has its own fee bracket. As with most other countries, medicine, engineering and MBA programs can be slightly more expensive than other courses. To cover tuition fees, you will usually need somewhere between NZ$ 22,000 and NZ$35,000 a year (indicative).

Financial aid

In order to reduce your tuition fee expense, you can turn to certain financial aids available. These may include scholarships, grants, bursaries and fellowships. These aids are provided by the government as well as private institutions. Since a lot of students apply to these scholarships, we recommended you to apply in advance to beat competition.

Pedagogy in New Zealand classrooms

With a teaching style that continually evolves, New Zealand offers a highly supportive environment for international students. Offering hands-on approach for teaching, the faculty members do not hesitate to mould their teaching approach to suit the needs of their students. Unlike various other western countries where classroom size is generally big, New Zealand’s teachers prefer teaching students in small groups and engage students via various class activities.

Academic year

New Zealand offers two intakes under its higher education programs – July and February. Admissions for vocational courses may also be available in March, April and May while pathway programs may have additional dates available. Always check for available intakes in your course of preference.

Learning English

Since all your classroom learning and communication in everyday life will take place in English, it is important for you to be proficient in the language. If your command over the language is limited, you may be advised to enroll for an English language program before the commencement of your program of study. These courses may be full-time or part-time and are provided by a range of private institutions and universities. Please note that language courses in the universities may be full-time.