Education System in New Zealand: Guide to the New Zealand Education System

Education System in New Zealand: Guide to the New Zealand Education System

Education System in New Zealand: Guide to the New Zealand Education System
Ashma Shrestha

The New Zealand education system is divided into four main levels: early childhood education, primary education, secondary education, and tertiary education. Early childhood education is optional for children aged between 0-5 years. Primary education is compulsory for children aged between 5-13 years. Secondary education is for students aged between 13-18 years and is also mandatory. Tertiary education includes vocational education and training (VET) and higher education.

In terms of higher education, New Zealand has eight universities, several polytechnics and institutes of technology that offer a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs. The universities in New Zealand are:

  • University of Auckland
  • University of Otago
  • University of Canterbury
  • Victoria University of Wellington
  • Massey University
  • University of Waikato
  • Lincoln University
  • University of Technology, Auckland

These universities are ranked highly globally and are known for providing excellent education and research opportunities. New Zealand's education system strongly emphasises practical, hands-on learning, and many universities and polytechnics offer programs with industry placements.

International students who come to New Zealand to study can expect to receive the same high-quality education as native students. They will also access the same resources, facilities, and support services. It is worth noting that New Zealand's education system is recognised globally, and students who study in New Zealand will have a degree that employers around the world highly value.

Level of Education System in New Zealand

The education system in New Zealand is generally divided into five levels:

Early Childhood Education (ECE)

This level is optional for children between 0-5 years old. It provides education and cares for young children in a safe and nurturing environment.

Primary Education 

This level is compulsory for children between 5-13 years old. It provides a foundation for learning and covers subjects such as reading, writing, mathematics, and social studies.

Secondary Education

This level is for students between 13-18 years old and is also compulsory. It provides students with a broad education covering various subjects, including mathematics, science, English, and the arts.

Vocational Education and Training (VET)

This level is for students who want to learn skills and gain qualifications related to a specific trade or occupation. This level includes courses such as apprenticeships, vocational certificates, and diplomas.

Tertiary Education

This level includes higher education, such as universities, polytechnics, and institutes of technology, which offer undergraduate and graduate programs.

Level of Courses: New Zealand Education System

Undergraduate Course

Undergraduate courses in New Zealand are offered at universities, polytechnics, and institutes of technology. They typically take three to four years to complete and are equivalent to a bachelor's degree in other countries.

These courses are offered in various disciplines, including arts, business, engineering, science, and health. The curriculum is designed to provide students with a strong foundation in their chosen field of study, critical thinking, problem-solving, and other transferable skills.

Undergraduate students in New Zealand will typically attend lectures, tutorials, and laboratory classes and will also be required to complete coursework, assignments, and exams. Some programs may also include fieldwork, projects, or internships, providing students with hands-on experience in their chosen field.

Some of the demanding bachelor courses in New Zealand are:

  • Bachelor of Nursing
  • Bachelor of law
  • Bachelor of Design
  • in Marketing
  • Bachelor in Arts
  • Bachelor of Information Technology

Postgraduate Course

Postgraduate courses in New Zealand, also known as graduate courses, are offered at universities, polytechnics, and institutes of technology. They are typically one to two years in length and are equivalent to a Master's degree in other countries. These courses are designed for students who have already completed an undergraduate degree and want to specialise in a particular field or gain advanced knowledge and skills.

New Zealand universities offer a wide range of postgraduate programs, including Master's degrees, graduate diplomas, and graduate certificates. These programs are available in many disciplines, including arts, business, engineering, science, and health.

Some of the demanding master's courses in New Zealand are

  • Master in Agricultural Science
  • Master of Professional Accounting
  • MSc in Psychology
  • Master in Business Administration
  • Master in Philosophy

Tuition Expenses

In New Zealand, there are numerous universities, and tuition costs vary according to the degree type, educational level, and study period.


Tuition Fee Average


4,100 - 6,100 EUR/Year


7,300 - 10,500 EUR/Year


3,700 - 5,100 EUR/Year

Major top Universities in New Zealand

Some of the most well-known educational institutions in New Zealand are included in the list that follows:

  • The University of Waikato
  • The University of Auckland
  • Lincoln University
  • Auckland University of Technology
  • The University of Canterbury
  • The University of Wellington
  • Massey University

Scholarships in New Zealand

There are indeed a variety of scholarships available for students who wish to study in New Zealand, offered by universities, colleges, and other organisations. These scholarships can help cover the costs of tuition, living expenses, and other expenses associated with studying in New Zealand.

Some common Scholarships that international students can apply for are:

  • New Zealand International Doctoral Research Scholarships (NZIDRS)
  • New Zealand Commonwealth Scholarships
  • New Zealand Excellence Awards (NZEA)
  • SEG Scholarships

University Scholarships 

Many universities in New Zealand offer scholarships to international students. These scholarships are typically awarded based on academic merit, financial need, or other criteria, such as leadership potential or community involvement. Some scholarships are specific to certain fields of study or institutions, while others are open to students in any area of study.

Government Scholarships

The New Zealand government also offers scholarships to international students through the New Zealand Development Scholarship program. These scholarships are intended for students from developing countries and are awarded based on academic merit and potential for future leadership.

Private Scholarships

Private organisations also offer scholarships to international students who wish to study in New Zealand. These organisations may be based in New Zealand or the student's home country, and the scholarships may be awarded based on academic merit, financial need, or other criteria.

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