Brief Background: The New Zealand International
Education Strategy 2018-2030, released in August 2018, sets a path for
the future of New Zealand’s international education sector. The vision
is for international education to contribute to a thriving and globally
connected New Zealand through world-class education, underpinned by the
three pillars of an excellent education and student experience,
sustainable growth, and developing global citizens. The strategy builds
upon the International Student Wellbeing Strategy, released in June
2017. The International Student Wellbeing Strategy is designed to
protect and enhance New Zealand’s reputation as a safe and welcoming
study destination by ensuring that international students feel welcome,
safe and well, enjoy a high quality education and are valued for their
contribution to New Zealand.
Over 30,000 international students pursued studies at New Zealand
universities in 2017. US student enrollment totaled 3,044 that year,
with most American students participating in one-semester study abroad
programs at the undergraduate level.
Auckland University of Technology
University of Auckland
University of Canterbury
University of Otago
University of Waikato
Victoria University of Wellington
All eight of New Zealand’s universities were ranked among the top 500 institutions in the QS World University Rankings 2019,
placing them among the top 2.5 percent of universities worldwide. New
Zealand university programs also ranked among the world’s top 50 in
several subjects, including law, psychology, civil and structural
engineering, dentistry, veterinary sciences, and education.
In addition to its universities, New Zealand is home to 16
polytechnics and institutes of technology, which provide applied
learning and qualifications ranging from undergraduate certificates to
doctoral degrees. The country is also home to about 600 private training
institutions that award undergraduate and post-graduate qualifications.
Many students are drawn to New Zealand because of its emphasis on
student safety. The country ranked second out of 163 countries in the
2017 Global Peace Index. Students and other visitors are also attracted
to New Zealand for its magnificent outdoor recreation, mountains,
coastlines, glaciers, and hiking trails.
Good to Know: Higher education is known as tertiary education and majors or programs of study are typically referred to as courses.
New Zealand’s primary and secondary education system is based on the
13-year British model. As such, undergraduate degrees are typically
three years in length. A fourth year is an option if students want to
pursue an honours degree.
When applying, students choose to study a broad area of interest known as a programme
(i.e., Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Arts). Once at university,
students can more narrowly focus on a specific major. Double degrees and
double majors are possible.
New Zealand has established a Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students
to ensure the fair treatment of international students in New Zealand.
All New Zealand educational institutions hosting international students
must comply with the code.
Academic Calendar: For most tertiary institutions
the academic year starts in February (the end of New Zealand’s summer)
and finishes in November (late spring). Although the year is usually
divided into two semesters with the second semester starting in July, a
third term—known as a summer semester—is becoming more common. A summer
semester will run from November to February.
The difference in academic calendars between the US and New Zealand has implications for the timing of a US student’s transition to a New Zealand university. US students who want to begin in February for semester one, which is when most students enroll, might consider a gap experience after completing high school in May or June. Others may opt for a quick transition after graduation and begin during semester two, with orientation programs typically offered in mid-July.
Search: Students can explore specific programs and courses, including professional degrees, at the Study in New Zealand website, the official government site for advice on studying abroad in New Zealand.
Apply: Students apply directly to universities.
Application forms are available online but some documents, including
certified copies of academic transcripts and a résumé, may need to be
delivered by mail or international courier service. It is best to
confirm individual requirements with preferred institutions.
Students who wish to begin in the second semester in July may be
admitted conditionally, pending the submission of their high school
Deadlines: Deadlines vary considerably, so students
should carefully check institutional websites for details. As a general
rule of thumb for most programs, students should submit their
applications approximately three months before the start of their
intended first semester. Thus, students should apply by early December
to enroll for semester one (late February start) and by early May to begin studies in semester two (July start).
Application Fees: Students are not usually charged an application fee to apply to a New Zealand institution.
Admission Requirements: All institutions require a
high school diploma from a regionally-accredited high school confirming
above-average grades. Test scores are also required, generally 1160 or
higher on the SAT (out of 1600) and 24 or higher on the ACT. In some
cases, alternative entry criteria are accepted. Students with a GED and
sufficient SAT or ACT scores may be considered for admission, as may
students who have successfully studied at the undergraduate level at a
recognized institution. Other admission criteria may be required for
certain programs. All institutions list their admission criteria and
application process on their websites; students are advised to check
with their preferred institutions for more details.
Upon Acceptance: Accepted students will receive an offer of place
that confirms course and program details as well as start dates. An
invoice for tuition fees covering tuition for the full academic year
will also be included. Before receiving a visa to enter New Zealand,
students must provide evidence that they have paid their tuition fees in
full for their first year of study. Payments are made directly to the
Tuition and Fees: Tuition and fees vary across universities and programs. Information is available on respective university websites and the Universities New Zealand website.
Generally, the cost of undergraduate tuition and fees for an
international student is 23,000 to 33,000 New Zealand dollars per year.
US students are eligible to use direct loans from the US Federal
Student Aid program at some postsecondary institutions in New Zealand.
Housing: Residential colleges are halls of
residence provided by the university where students can lease a
single-occupancy room for their academic year of study, somewhat similar
to US dormitories. Residential colleges offer meal plans and other
support services, such as academic tutorials for key first-year classes.
Most international students live in a campus residential college during
their first year but later on move to private or independent
accommodations with other students (known in New Zealand as flatting).
Some students choose to live in a residential college for two or even
three years. Students may need to submit an essay and additional
personal information to obtain a place in a residential college. Further
information about accommodation options can be acquired from university
Based on various university websites, estimates for housing costs
(both flatting and halls of residence) range from NZ$11,000 to NZ$20,000
Visa and Other Permits: Students will need to apply
for a visa to study full-time in New Zealand. Students need to pay the
full cost of their courses and enroll with an approved education
provider. Visit the Immigration New Zealand website for further information on requirements and the application process.
With this visa students can:
Things to note:
Students must have enough money to pay tuition fees and living
expenses while in New Zealand. The student visa is normally for the same
length of time as the program of study the student has paid for. For
example, if a student pays for a year of study and demonstrates
sufficient funds to cover living costs for a year, they will receive a
visa for that year.
Health care for visitors on a student visa is charged on a
pay-as-you-go basis; most accidents are covered by New Zealand’s
Accident Compensation Corporation, which helps to provide emergency
treatment and services to anyone injured in New Zealand. International
students must be able to show they have comprehensive international
travel and health insurance. This is a legal requirement (per the Code of Practice), and the university’s international admission office will confirm that students have current and appropriate coverage.
Per a new policy in 2018, students engaged in degree studies at the
undergraduate level or higher will received a three-year open work visa.
Visit the Immigration New Zealand website for more information on post-study work visas.
Advice from the Field: Counselors can contact New
Zealand institutions directly to ask about entrance requirements, visa
requirements, and more. Counselors are invited to direct general
questions about studying in New Zealand to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Maori and other Pacific cultures fascinated me, and, after
taking a Te Reo course over the summer, I decided to study Maori and
Pacific cultures. Experiencing new cultures and ways of life is
something you might not always get to do if you’re stuck in the Midwest
like I was.”
—Griffin Jenkins, Illinois, University of Auckland
US students applying to New Zealand universities typically need to do
thorough independent research about particular institutions and
programs. Prospective students and applicants may not experience the
same level of engagement and communication from a New Zealand
institution as they would from a US college.
New Zealand is generally an easy and safe place to live—an attractive
feature for many, as is its stunning natural beauty. New Zealand is
also a diverse country. Auckland is the largest Polynesian city in the
world, for example, and you will have people from all over the world in
Classes at New Zealand universities are often lecture-style and
relatively large. This might be an important consideration if a student
is looking for a more intimate academic experience.
There are a number of alumni networking opportunities available for
New Zealand alumni. In addition to various “Study In New Zealand” social
media alumni groups, each university has its own alumni association and
regularly host events in the US. Additionally, Kiwi Expats Abroad (KEA)
is an international organization which aims to connect Kiwi expats and
alumni with one another to find global opportunities. Alumni are also
encouraged to get in touch with a local honorary consul, consulate-general, or embassy, to stay in the loop for New Zealand events.