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Education system in New Zealand

Everything you need to know about the education system in New Zealand.

The education system in New Zealand is enormously diverse and one of the best in the world, maintaining excellent standards in literacy, mathematics and sciences and ranking well consistently by global standards.

New Zealand education is also becoming increasingly international, influenced by wide employment markets and an increasingly mobile network of teaching staff, researchers and a well-travelled population of students.

How it works?

New Zealand’s education system has three levels – early childhood, school and university. Students can progress through a variety of flexible pathways in the system, supported by a range of institutions that offer a variety of courses and programs. University is the highest level of education and qualifications at all levels are governed to ensure students gain a relevant and meaningful qualification.

Students attend university to undertake bachelor degrees or postgraduate courses (including certificate, postgraduate diploma, master and doctoral programs). Vocational courses focus on practical skills and industry training. Vocational training courses are offered in government-funded establishments, including TAFE (Technical and Further Education), or other private schools. Many colleges offer students credit towards university courses.

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 New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF) is the core of the education system. All qualifications are listed on this framework, assuring quality that is recognised and trusted worldwide.

Fees structure

New Zealand is an ideal place to enjoy a world-class education and outstanding quality of life, but there are several expenses to consider before you study overseas.

Tuition fees for international students vary according to the type and length of the course. Each university in New Zealand sets its own tuition fees, depending on subject and level of study. The average undergraduate (bachelor) degree costs between NZ$22, 000 to NZ$30,000 a year. The average postgraduate degree costs between NZ$25,000 and NZ$35,000 a year.

Learn more about cost of studying in New Zealand.

Teaching and learning style

New Zealand offers a very supportive environment to its international students. The number of students per classrooms is often smaller than other western countries, allowing for more personalised attention. As teaching methods are constantly developing, you will experience a wide range of teaching techniques and environments. The support for international students goes even further than the classroom, with the New Zealand Government being the first in the world to create a code of practice that outlines a standard of care for international students both in the classroom and outside of it.

You can study at all levels of education from vocational education and training (VET), English language courses to higher education (including universities), both undergraduate and postgraduate studies. Tertiary education includes higher education (including universities) and vocational education and training (VET).


A vocational education and training (VET) qualification can provide a pathway to entering the workforce or university. There are many vocational training courses in areas such as information technology, business services, art and media, tourism and hospitality, childcare, transport and logistics, construction, mining, manufacturing and rural industries.

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 institution

Qualification offered


Undergraduate 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.

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.

Learn about the scholarships available for bangladeshi students in New Zealand.

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.

Read about upcoming intakes in New Zealand.

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.

After graduation

The New Zealand Government offers pathways for recent graduates to live and work in New Zealand. Depending on the area of study, you may have the opportunity to stay and work in New Zealand for up to four years initially.

Your graduate pathway has two steps: a post-study work visa that offers you up to 12 months to find a job in a related field of study, or an employer-assisted work visa that allows you to stay in New Zealand for either two or three years to gain work experience related to a specific job with a specific employer.

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