With a renowned higher education system, safe and friendly environments and some of the world's most stunning scenery, studying in New Zealand could offer the adventure of a lifetime
Aside from being a beloved gap year spot, New Zealand offers plenty of opportunity for students considering postgraduate study. Known the world over for providing quality education, a degree gained in the country will be recognised all over the globe.
Relatively small and uncrowded, for some perspective think the size of the UK but with a population of only 4.6 million, New Zealand consistently leads world quality of life studies. 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 explore forests, snow-capped mountains, picturesque lakes and fjords and sandy beaches. The active sort 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.
Popular student cities include the country's largest, Auckland, the capital city of Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.
When you team such academic prestige with a diverse culture and welcoming locals, New Zealand becomes a popular place for those wishing to undertake further study elsewhere in the world.
New Zealand universities
The country has eight state-funded universities offering degree-level education. Institutions include:
- AUT University
- Lincoln University
- Massey University
- University of Auckland
- University of Canterbury
- University of Otago
- University of Waikato
- Victoria University of Wellington.
New Zealand also has 16 Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs) and 550 Private Training Establishments (PTEs), which include English language schools.
All eight of New Zealand’s universities feature in the QS World University Rankings 2016/17. The top five include:
- University of Auckland (81st)
- University of Otago (169th)
- University of Canterbury (214th)
- Victoria University of Wellington (228th)
- University of Waikato (324th).
Courses follow the same format as those in the UK and you can study for a Bachelors, Masters or a Doctorate at Kiwi institutions. The academic year begins in February. Semesters run from February to June and from July until November.
Over 7,000 students study at NMIT every year across 100 different programmes at certificate, diploma, bachelors and Masters level.
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.
Ask your own university's international study office about exchange agreements with New Zealand institutions. You will continue to pay domestic (UK) tuition fees for the duration of your overseas study.
All qualifications in the country are ranked on what is called 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.
To gain a place on a Bachelors 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 undergraduate courses in New Zealand see Study in New Zealand - Study abroad 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.
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.
Traditionally Masters courses take two years to complete, although there are now a number of programmes that can be completed in a year.
Like the UK, the minimum entry requirement for a Masters programme is a Bachelors qualification.
Find a Masters course to suit you at Study in New Zealand - Study abroad programmes.
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. PhDs usually take three to four years to complete when studied full time.
Applicants require a Masters qualification in a related subject.
Thanks to a New Zealand government policy, all international PhD students are eligible to pay the same fees as domestic students. Luckily 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 and $9,000 per year.
Search for Doctoral degrees at Study in New Zealand - Study abroad programmes.
Institutions 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 exact figures.
International students should expect to pay $22,000 to $32,000 for a Bachelors degree, and $26,000 to £37,000 for a postgraduate course, with higher fees for subjects such as medicine, engineering and veterinary science.
As well as tuition fees you'll also need 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 to support yourself during the first year. If you're studying for less than a year, you'll need to prove that you have $1,250 for each month of study to contribute to your living expenses.
For a full list of university fees, see Universities New Zealand - Fees.
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 what schemes you are eligible to apply for.
To search for opportunities based on level of study, subject and nationality, see Study in New Zealand - Find a scholarship.
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.
How to apply
Individual universities set their own entry requirements, so these vary depending on what programme you choose, and of course, the institution itself.
New Zealand does not 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.
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.
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 you need 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 and can work for up to 20 hours during term time. To be eligible, you must be enrolled with an approved education provider and have the means to pay the full amount of your course.
You can apply for this visa online and will need to scan and send:
- the 'offer of place' from your educational institution
- proof that you have enough money for living costs for the duration of your stay
- a return airline ticket to your home country or proof that you have the funds to buy one.
You must also have appropriate and current medical and travel insurance while you're studying.
A full guide to applying for a visa, including what evidence you need to provide with your application, is provided by Immigration New Zealand.
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
- Discover what it's like to work in New Zealand.