New Zealand
Why study in New Zealand

New Zealand is home to some of the most prestigious and internationally renowned Universities and Private Education Providers in the world. With having many research-led universities under its sleeve New Zealand is very well established in the international education space around the world. Universities undertake pioneering research in many fields and their discoveries and academics are in great demand right across the globe. All the Eight Universities in NZ are ranked within the top 3% in the world and they have been able to achieve this ranking purely due to their rigorous quality assurance system and zero tolerance to non-genuine education which ensure the integrity of a degrees achieved from New Zealand. New Zealand graduates get hands on experience with their learning and during the course of their education they develop critical thinking skills, high employability, communication skills, asset for their employers, just to name a few.

The education system is regulated with strong quality assurance systems across the board. It creates a consistency that gives you flexibility to pick the institution you want, in the city or town that interests you most, knowing that you will get a quality education. Universities are quality assured by Universities New Zealand. It’s responsible for monitoring and maintaining standards and approving the qualifications of each university.

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All New Zealand Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics are also state-owned. These, along with private training providers such as English language schools must comply with strict guidelines from the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA). NZQA regularly reviews these providers and individual institution reports are available. Always look for proof that the school you’re considering is NZQA registered and that their programme is approved. Teaching standards are high and with small class sizes students enjoy high levels of individual attention.

All eight of New Zealand Universities are among the world’s top 500 in the 2015/16 QS rankings. On individual subjects, the 2015/16 QS rankings also placed New Zealand universities amongst the world’s top 50 for teaching accounting and finance, business and management, computer science, civil and structural engineering, agriculture and forestry, veterinary science and nine other important disciplines. Employers around the world respect New Zealand’s education system for its ability to balance academic achievements with skills, producing creative, flexible thinkers who are competent at both practical and theoretical levels. New Zealand education system is also part of the Lisbon Recognition Convention which means its certificates, diplomas and degrees have international recognition. The NZQA website National Education Information Centre | NZQA has more information.

The New Zealand education system is currently ranked as number 7 in the world – far better than many OECD countries. As a former British colony, the New Zealand education system is strongly based on the European system, with some minor differences. Primary school lasts for six years with students often starting at 5 years of age. Intermediate school is years 7 to 8 and secondary school incorporates years 9 to 13. The naming of these divisions may differ depending on what portions of the education systems are offered at a particular school. School is compulsory until the age of 16 (year 11), and state financed. As in other parts of the world private schools are available, but require 70% of the school fees to be paid by the student’s family.

New Zealand has 8 state-funded universities. They each offer undergraduate and postgraduate degree in a variety choice of subjects and have strengths in specialized professional degrees. All of them are well recognized internationally. 

Besides postgraduate studies and research, further education also includes higher and vocational degree’s. Courses range from programs to help students into work, to certificates and diplomas. Full and part time distance learning options are also available. New Zealand education system reflects their unique and diverse society, open to different abilities, religious beliefs, ethnic groups, income levels and ideas about teaching and learning.

The Higher Education System in New Zealand is to an even greater degree based on the British system with a very similar structure. This means that qualifications gained in New Zealand or partial qualifications can often be transferred freely within New Zealand and with institutions in both the UK and Australia. All education institutions must be accredited through The New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA).

New Zealand’s higher education institutions are split into universities, polytechnics and institutes of technology, colleges of education and Private training providers. Universities are largely research based and state owned. They offer courses from certificate to doctorate level with most courses lasting a full year. Some courses will run only one semester, and these can sometimes be started mid-academic year. 

Polytechnics and institutes of technology are also state owned and offer courses equivalent in to those offered at universities. These institutions are more vocationally oriented and offer a more practical approach to learning than many university courses. Polytechnics and institutes of technology offer education from certificate level to degrees. Many also offer postgraduate courses of very high standing on the international scale. 

Colleges of education are teacher training institutions most commonly closely affiliated with or merged with the nearest university. Private training Providers often offer training in a specific discipline, such as tourism management, hospitality management, cooking or business. These institutions are also vocationally oriented and aim to get you into qualified employment after graduation. Private Training Providers are also very welcoming of international students and often offer many distance learning options.

Entry into undergraduate education in New Zealand will require a senior high school diploma considered equivalent of the education provided in New Zealand. If you are from a non-English speaking country, you must have these documents translated. In some cases, the institution you are applying to may ask you to have your qualifications assessed by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA). This will cost NZ$450 and take up to 8 weeks.

For Postgraduate education, the same applies to translation and assessment, although most countries with a similar degree structure will be acceptable for entry. You will generally need a previous bachelor’s degree within the field you wish to enter for a postgraduate course.

The other main requirement will be proof of your proficiency in English. Proof of this can be given in several different ways from previous English speaking education to a TOEFL test result of 550 (paper based) or IELTS result of 6.0 overall.

Working while studying can be a good way to gain New Zealand work experience and help support you while you’re studying abroad. Gaining experience of a New Zealand workplace also helps you develop skills such as communication, teamwork, time management, interpersonal skills and workplace-relevant English language skills.

Balance your work hours with your study obligations, so your academic performance isn’t compromised, and remember that some scholarships set limits on the number of hours you can work.

Part-time work (tertiary students)

Student can work up to 20 hours a week if you’re studying full-time for any of the following:

  • for at least 2 years
  • for a New Zealand qualification that gains points under the Skilled Migrant Category
  • for a foundation programme for at least 1 academic year at level 4 or higher on the  New Zealand Qualification Framework  at an education provider in Canterbury.

Full-time work (tertiary students)

Student may be able to work full-time:

  • During scheduled breaks in study, if you’re studying full-time for at least 1 academic year and your course is worth more than 120 credits
  • During the Christmas and New Year holiday period, if you’re studying full-time and your course is worth 120 credits or more.

PhD and Masters by research students

If you’re enrolled in Masters by research or doctoral degree programme awarded by a New Zealand tertiary institution, there are no restrictions on the hours you can work.

In most cases, if you are studying for longer than three months you will need a student visa in New Zealand. For shorter stays it may be enough with a visitor’s visa. As with all immigration wherever you go, the procedure for issuing student visas and other documents is only one of several steps you have to take on the way to studying abroad. Therefore the basic rule applies – Start well ahead of time!

In order to be eligible for a student visa, you must have a confirmation letter on having been accepted to an NZQA accredited course and on having paid the necessary fees. This documentation must include:

  • The name of the course and the minimum time required for completing it, and
  • Proof that the course and course provider meet New Zealand’s requirements for international students, and
  • The amount of the fee for the complete course, or if the course is longer than one year, the annual fee, and
  • Whether you have to pay course fees and whether the fees are domestic or foreign fees, and
  • Whether you are studying full-time or part-time.

The institution application process itself may take several months if you have to have your qualifications assessed etc. In addition you will need a passport valid at least three months past your leaving date, and proof of sufficient funds to support yourself and to pay future education fees throughout your study.

Once you have all of the documentation ready, you submit your application to the nearest New Zealand embassy or consulate. For some nationalities and circumstances, special regulations apply so make sure to check with the New Zealand authorities before submitting your application that you have all the necessary documentation.

If you wish to stay in New Zealand and work after you have finished your studies, you will need the right visa. International students who have achieved a New Zealand qualification may be allowed to gain experience in work related to their studies. Depending on what you study, you may be able to work in New Zealand for up to four years, and possibly even gain residence.

First you need to apply for a visa and have it approved. The study to work pathway has two steps:

Post-Study Work Visa - This visa gives you up to 12 months to get a job in a field related to your studies. While you are looking for a job in your field you are allowed to work in any job to support yourself.

Post-Study Work Visa (employer assisted )- This visa lets you stay in New Zealand to gain work experience for a further two years (or three years if work experience is required as part of a professional registration). This visa relates to a specific job with a specific employer.

After your post-study work visa (employer assisted) you may be eligible to apply for a New Zealand resident visa under the Skilled Migrant Category. If your work is in an occupation that has skill shortages, this improves your chances of being allowed to stay, either with work visas or residence.

Whatever visa you apply for, you will need to pass health and character checks. For more information on resident visas to work in New Zealand indefinitely, including videos from others who have stayed to work after studying in New Zealand, see newzealandnow.govt.nz.

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