Coming to study in New Zealand

Educational institutions in New Zealand offer a wide variety of courses and New Zealand welcomes international students at all of its institutions. Students intending to study in New Zealand can be assured of achieving qualifications that are at a standard comparable to qualifications achieved in leading educational institutions in other parts of the world.

The New Zealand Government has put in place strong national quality assurance systems, designed to help institutions maintain the quality and consistency of training and assessment programmes. All courses, programmes and qualifications offered by registered providers must be approved by a quality assurance body. Education providers (such as English language schools) that are not registered with NZQA cannot offer you an officially recognised course. New Zealand Immigration will not issue a permit unless you are planning to do an approved course.

If you're an international student, your provider must be a signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students. The Code sets out the minimum standards of advice and care that are expected of providers who enrol international students. The Code applies to care and welfare of students only, and not to academic standards. Read more about the code and visit the Ministry of Education website for more information about the New Zealand education system.

Schooling at secondary level in New Zealand

New Zealand offers quality schooling at the secondary level. Typically, secondary study lasts five years and begins when students are 12 or 13 years old. For more information, see Secondary Schools and NCEA.

Studying at tertiary level in New Zealand

The term ‘tertiary’ is used to describe all aspects of post-school education and training. New Zealand has a large number of institutions that teach at the tertiary level. They include not only universities, but also polytechnics and privately owned and run training establishments. For more information, see Tertiary Education.

As a student in New Zealand you have certain rights:

  • NZQA requires all registered PTEs to have policies and procedures for student withdrawals and refunds. You should have received this information from your PTE before you enrolled. See Withdrawals and refunds for more information.
  • Registered PTEs must have adequate protection of student fees in the event of their insolvency, de-registration by NZQA and/or partial or complete loss of accreditation. See PTE course closure for more information.
  • If you have any issues with your provider you can make an official complaint to NZQA, see Make a complaint about a provider.

Check your visa type

Before enrolling in a course, check the type of visa that has been granted to you.

  • Visitor’s permit - If you are on a visitor’s permit, you may only enrol on a course of 12 weeks or less. Recreational courses of 12 weeks or less do not have to be run by a registered provider and if they are, recreational courses are exempt from course approval. This means that certain protections such as student fee protection do not automatically apply.
  • Student Visa - If you have a student visa, you may also enrol on courses of 13 weeks or longer, which enables you to enrol into a variety of courses offered by many providers.

Recognition of international qualifications

If you have a qualification gained outside New Zealand that you wish to have recognised in New Zealand or cross-credited to a New Zealand qualification, see International qualifications.

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