Boasting a high-quality education system, relaxed lifestyle and stunning landscape, it's no wonder that around 100,000 international students choose to study in New Zealand every year

Interesting facts

  • Eight universities feature in the QS World University Rankings 2022.
  • Popular student cities include Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
  • First country to have a wellbeing strategy for international students.
  • Ranked seventh in the world for highest performing graduates.

Relatively small and uncrowded - for some perspective, think the size of the UK but with a population of just 5 million - New Zealand consistently leads world quality of life studies. For instance, it's rated as 'very high' on Numbeo's Quality of Life Index (April 2022).

The weather varies from warm and subtropical in the north to cool and temperate in the south. Summer runs from December to February and winter falls between June and August.

No matter the season, the county has something for everyone. You can experience Māori culture, explore forests, snow-capped mountains, picturesque lakes and fjords as well as the country's many sandy beaches.

The more adventurous types can go bungee jumping, skydiving, surfing, cycling or hiking and for those with more metropolitan tastes, there are plenty of theatres, art galleries, cinemas, cafes, bars and restaurants. If you'd like to do a bit of sightseeing, you can't miss visiting the locations of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films and the bubbling mud pools of Rotorua.

Globally renowned for the quality of its higher education, popular student cities include the country's largest, Auckland and the capital city of Wellington on the North Island, plus Christchurch and Dunedin on the South Island.

New Zealand travel advice

Please note that New Zealand closed its borders to international visitors in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Its five-step plan to reopen again began on 27 February 2022, and while existing students have been able to return since 12 April 2022, the country won’t be open to those with new student visas until October 2022.

For the latest information on entering New Zealand as a student, see GOV.UK - Foreign travel advice - New Zealand and Immigration New Zealand.

New Zealand universities

Just like in the UK you can study for a Bachelors, Masters or a Doctorate at Kiwi institutions. The academic year begins in late February or early March and finishes in November (spring).

The country has eight state-funded universities offering degree-level education. Institutions include:

  • The University of Auckland
  • Auckland University of Technology (AUT)
  • University of Canterbury
  • Lincoln University
  • Massey University
  • University of Otago
  • Victoria University of Wellington
  • University of Waikato.

New Zealand also has 16 Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs) - now brought together under the Te Pūkenga (New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology) umbrella - and 550 Private Training Establishments (PTEs), which include English language schools.

You can explore the range of institutions at Study with New Zealand - New Zealand Universities.

All eight of New Zealand's universities feature in the QS World University Rankings 2022.

The top five include:

  • The University of Auckland (85th)
  • University of Otago (194th)
  • Victoria University of Wellington (236th)
  • University of Canterbury (258th)
  • Massey University (284th).
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University of Otago

As New Zealand's first university, the University of Otago has an international reputation for excellence in research and teaching.

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Study Options

The official free application support service for students wanting to enrol at universities in New Zealand. They can answer any questions about entry requirements, course details, costs, student visas and student accommodation.

Degree courses in New Zealand

All qualifications in the country are ranked on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF). Undergraduate courses, otherwise known as Bachelors degrees, typically take three years to complete and can be studied in a variety of subjects.

Popular courses in New Zealand include:

  • agriculture
  • business and management
  • engineering
  • environmental sciences
  • fashion design
  • food and hospitality
  • mathematics
  • medicine
  • nursing
  • technology.

To gain a place on an undergraduate programme you'll need a recognised high school leavers certificate - for example, A-levels if you're from the UK. You'll also need to prove your proficiency in English.

To search for Bachelors degrees in New Zealand, see Study with New Zealand - Courses and programmes.

It's also possible to study for certificates and diplomas as well as short-term foundation or pre-university studies to prepare you for university-level education.

Masters degrees

Postgraduate qualifications in the country are equivalent to their UK counterparts, with programmes offering full-time and part-time study options.

Qualifications on offer include postgraduate certificates and diplomas and Masters degrees. You can study either a taught or research Masters and after you graduate, you'll be eligible to work for up to three years in New Zealand on a post-study work visa.

Traditionally, Masters courses take two years to complete, although there are now a number of programmes that can be completed in a year or 18 months.

Like the UK, the minimum entry requirement for a Masters programme is a Bachelors qualification.

Find a Masters degree to suit you at Study with New Zealand - Courses and programmes.

PhDs

Doctoral degrees in New Zealand are similar to programmes in other countries. You'll carry out your own in-depth, independent research and present your findings in a thesis. Your work will be marked by external examiners, and you may be required to complete an oral examination.

PhDs usually take three to four years to complete when studied full time. Applicants require a Masters qualification in a related subject.

Thanks to New Zealand government policy, all international PhD students are eligible to pay the same fees as domestic students. Fortunately, this cuts the cost of Doctoral fees significantly.

Foreign students wishing to undertake PhD study in New Zealand should expect to pay between $6,500 (£3,415) and $9,000 (£4,730) per year.

Student exchanges

Exchanges and placements are a great short-term option for those wishing to get a taste of what it's like to study in a foreign country.

The universities of Bristol, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Nottingham, Sheffield and Southampton all provide exchange opportunities to New Zealand.

Ask your university's international study office about exchange agreements with Kiwi institutions. You will continue to pay domestic (UK) tuition fees for the duration of your overseas study.

Course fees

Universities set their own fees and tuition costs vary widely depending on the course and the institution, so you'll need to check with your individual university to find out more.

International students should expect to pay $20,000 (£10,511) to $40,000 (£21,022) for a Bachelors degree, and $20,000 (£10,511) to £45,000 (£23,125) for a postgraduate course, with higher fees for subjects such as medicine, engineering and veterinary science.

As well as tuition fees, you'll also have to factor in living costs, which depend on your location and lifestyle. You'll need to take into consideration accommodation, food, travel, entertainment and phone and internet costs.

If you intend to study in New Zealand for more than a year, you'll need to prove that you have at least $15,000 (£7,882) to support yourself during the first year. If you're studying for less than three years, you'll need to prove that you have $1,250 (£657) for each month of study to contribute to your living expenses.

Funding to study in New Zealand

Scholarships are available to international students studying for either a Masters or PhD. Universities may provide opportunities themselves, or you could be entitled to a government scholarship. Check institution websites for the latest information on what options are available and the schemes you're eligible to apply for.

To search for opportunities based on level of study, subject and nationality, see Study with New Zealand - Scholarships.

Most student visas enable you to work for up to 20 hours per week during term time and full time during scheduled holidays. This may help to offset some of your living and study expenses.

Student visas

Students from the UK need a visa to study in New Zealand. There are different visa options available, and you'll need to do your own research to discover which one best fits your needs.

The type of visa required largely depends upon the duration of your course. If you plan to study for less than three months a visitor visa will do. If your programme of study lasts for more than three months, you'll need to apply for a student visa.

On this visa, you can stay in the country for up to four years. To be eligible, you must be enrolled with an NZQA-approved education provider and have the means to pay the full amount of your course.

To apply for this visa online, you'll need to send:

  • the 'offer of place' from your NZQA-approved educational institution
  • proof that you have enough money for living costs for the duration of your stay
  • passport style photos
  • a return airline ticket to your home country or proof that you have the funds to buy one.

You must have appropriate and current travel insurance while you're studying, and you may also need to provide a medical certificate.

Student visas can take up to 62 days to process.

A full guide to applying for a visa, including what evidence you need to provide with your application, is provided by Immigration New Zealand.

How to apply

Universities set their own entry requirements, so these vary depending on the programme you choose and the institution itself.

New Zealand doesn't have a centralised university application service, so you'll need to apply directly to your chosen university, either by post or via an online application form.

To complete your enrolment, you're also required to provide supporting documents, including:

  • certified copies of academic certificates and transcripts
  • proof of English language proficiency
  • a recent CV.

Once you've been accepted, your university will send you an 'offer of place' that confirms course details and start dates. After paying your fees, you'll then receive a 'confirmed offer of place' letter, which you'll need when applying for your student visa.

Language requirements

All courses are taught in English so if it's not your native language, you'll need to prove your proficiency before being admitted onto a programme.

English language courses you can study in New Zealand include:

  • General English
  • IELTS or TOEFL
  • English for academic purposes
  • English for specific purposes.

Comparison to UK qualifications

Typically, degree-level qualifications gained in New Zealand are internationally recognised. However, check with your university or higher education institution to make sure that your qualifications will be recognised in your home country or to see if they have an equivalent in the UK.

Find out more

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