Why study abroad in New Zealand

Studying overseas in New Zealand can offer an exhilarating lifestyle in addition to a top-class education. With eight national universities, 23 polytechnics or technology institutions and around 860 private training establishments, choosing where to study will call for a balance of interest between location and the type of course and institution you are looking for.
New Zealand is famous for the great outdoors and its epic landscapes but, according to New Zealand’s Ministry of Education, the three main cities of interest to international students are Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. We cover all of these locations in detail in other articles on this website.

If you are attracted to studying in New Zealand for its extreme sporting activities and/or the beautiful scenery, you might consider opting for one of the rural areas.

You will find that, although the pace of life may be slower than in the cities, natural delights such as the forests, waterfalls and mountains located in these regions will provide plenty of activities to keep you busy.

You should also bear in mind that you will never be more than a few hours from the sea when choosing where to study in New Zealand.

Most of the country’s major cities are located on the coast, so – even if you set your heart on an institution or course many miles away from your preferred location – you may be able to compromise as New Zealand is a small country with reliable and efficient travel networks.

Type of institution

To protect the quality of higher education in New Zealand, the government has put into place special measures to ensure that the qualifications you receive are meaningful and internationally recognised.

The government also ensures the quality of the higher education providers, formally referred to as tertiary institutions. For example, it is against the law for an institution to call itself a ‘university’ or ‘polytechnic’ unless approved by a government body.

The government funds a range of state-owned tertiary institutions, offering national and international students a wide variety of study programmes. There are also many private providers.

We list below are the different tertiary institutions you will come across in New Zealand:

  • Universities: New Zealand has eight universities which run undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes
  • Polytechnics: there are 23 polytechnics or technology institutions which excel in vocational training. However some polytechnics are now expanding their array of courses and offer students research based education as well
  • Colleges of Education: these colleges provide students with qualifications suitable to sustain a career in teaching, together with training for social workers. All of these courses interlink with periods of work experience
  • W?nanga: this is the term for the M?ori centres which provide tertiary education and advanced study on M?ori tradition and custom
  • Private owned: there are around 860 private training establishments in New Zealand funded by private investors. They offer a variety of research and vocational courses

Type of course

  • Degrees: New Zealand offers bachelor degrees in the arts and the sciences as well as postgraduate degrees such as masters and doctorates
  • National Certificates and National Diplomas: there are over 800 national certificates and diplomas provided throughout New Zealand, in areas from aquaculture to hospitality. They are nationally recognised because they are designed by and for industry representatives
  • Private qualifications:  private institutions may offer qualifications they have developed in-house

Other considerations
The other aspects you might consider when choosing where to study are:

  • Costs: annual tuition costs for undergraduate study do not vary significantly between universities and polytechnics, although fees can vary depending on the subject you wish to study. For more information, see our separate page on Fees and Costs
  • Work opportunities: if you need to work during your time as a student in New Zealand, you may want to consider the job opportunities within the area where you will be living
  • English language requirements: these will vary depending on the institution and the level of course you are looking for. You must consider your English language skills before applying and should read our separate page on Tests and Entry Requirements page for further information
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