Applying to study at Australian universities

The 2021 NCEA and Scholarship exams have been delayed two weeks in response to nationwide COVID-19 lockdowns.

This may cause a slight delay to when NZQA can supply ATAR scores to Australian Tertiary Admission Centres and Australian universities in January 2022.

NZQA will try to minimise any delays. 

What you need to know if you're applying to study in Australia using your NCEA results.

Arrangements between NZ and Australia

New Zealand has a formal agreement to mutually recognise University Entrance awards or requirements with Australia.

NCEA is accepted by the Australasian Conference of Tertiary Admission Centres (ACTAC), which ensures that all states/territories in Australia use a common approach for tertiary entrance ranking.

This means that New Zealand students can apply directly to Australian tertiary admission centres or providers.

Planning and course selection

If you plan to attend university in Australia, we recommend you plan your NCEA subjects in advance to give you the best chance of being accepted.

In Australia:

  • Year 12 is the equivalent of New Zealand Year 13 and NCEA Level 3
  • each state has its own secondary education system
  • university entry requirements can be different in each state
  • each university sets its own admission requirements and criteria.

Contact the university or education provider you wish to attend as early as possible to ensure that your Year 13 course will meet all the entry requirements.

In general, for applications to be considered:

  • you must achieve New Zealand University Entrance
  • you need to achieve a high ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank) score
  • you need to meet the state's university entry criteria
  • you need to meet the state's English language proficiency requirement (if there is one).

To maximise your potential ATAR score, you should:

  • have at least 90 assessed level 3 credits results (assessed credits are those with results of Not Achieved, Achieved, Achieved with Merit, and Achieved with Excellence)
  • aim to get as many level 3 excellence and merit results as possible in externally and internally assessed achievement standards in University Entrance approved subjects.

Take note of the state’s English requirement for New Zealand students. Credits must be from Level 3 University Entrance approved English. Some Australian states require up to 20 English credits.

Grade conversion

Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) score

The ATAR (previously known as the Interstate Transfer Index – ITI) is used to compare and rank Australian Year 12 students educated in different states by ranking students in their year group cohort.

NZQA calculates ATAR scores on behalf of Australian tertiary admission centres for every eligible student in January each year. We use methodology agreed by Australasian Conference of Tertiary Admission Centres (ACTAC).

Australian Conference of Tertiary Admission Centres

How ATAR is calculated

ATAR scores range from 99.95 (the top score) to 0.00 in 0.05 increments. 0.05% of the relevant year group is allocated to each ATAR score.

NZQA calculates ATAR scores using a statistically-based process.

ATAR scores are based on the best 90 NCEA Level 3 assessed credits with a maximum of 24 credits from a subject. To determine which 90 credits are your best, assessed credits are given a weighting based on several factors.

How we rank NCEA Level 3 credits

Standards are prioritised:

  • University Entrance (UE) approved subject standards are used ahead of non-UE approved subject standards
  • achievement standards are used ahead of unit standards, and
  • each standard and result is assessed and weighted independently using a statistical analysis to determine relative difficulty. Externally assessed achievement standards are typically ranked higher than internally assessed achievement standards for the same subject and result.

If a student re-sits a standard, their best grade is used.

NZQA does not predict ATAR scores in advance.

How to apply

The Australian education system treats New Zealand citizens as domestic interstate students. You usually apply through a Tertiary Admission Centre that works on behalf of the universities in their state or territory. For particular courses at some universities, you will need to apply directly to the university.

New Zealand residents are treated as international students by the Australian system.

Contact details for tertiary admission centres and universities are available from the Australian Conference of Tertiary Admission Centres (ACTAC).

What you need to do

If you plan to study at an Australian university and have completed NCEA Level 3, or are in your final year of NCEA Level 3 study and expect to gain University Entrance, you will need to:

  • provide your New Zealand National Student Number (NSN) when applying (ensure that this is accurate)
  • ask your school’s Principal Nominee to check that your tertiary release indicator (privacy flag) on the school management system is set to "Yes" so that the Australian Tertiary Admission Centres and Australian and New Zealand universities can access your results
  • if your results change after the January results release, either from a review and reconsideration, or if results are reported late, tell the Australian Tertiary Admission Centre or university you applied to. Your ATAR score will be automatically recalculated so they can then log into the NZQA website to obtain any updated results.

You do not need to contact NZQA to send a copy of your results record and ATAR score.

What we do

NZQA calculates ATAR scores in January once all NCEA Level 3 results are available. We can make the information available to tertiary institutions if you have set your tertiary release indicator to "Yes".

If you have selected "Yes", the Australian tertiary institution can download an electronic copy of your individual results record with your:

  • University Entrance status
  • Australian defined level 3 subject scores
  • NCEA Level 2 and Level 3 results, and
  • ATAR score.

We do not provide students with official documentation of ATAR scores. However, you can get your ATAR score after NCEA results are released in January by contacting the PRS team (Psychometrics, Statistics and Reporting) at NZQA:

  • by phoning +64 4 4633000 or 0800 697 296, or
  • emailing with your full name, NSN, Date of Birth and the last school you attended.

When we release your results

NZQA sets the annual NCEA assessment results date as early as possible, however it may not always satisfy the specific cut-off dates of all the Australian Tertiary Admissions Centres.

We work closely with the Tertiary Admissions Centres to agree on a release date that best meets:

  • the NZQA marking requirements, and
  • the Tertiary Admissions Centres' cut-off dates.

Mid-year admission

To apply for mid-year admission at a university in Australia, the process is the same except you will need to:

The Tertiary Admissions Centre or university may ask NZQA to supply confirmation of your results. ATAR scores are not recalculated for mid-year applications.

NZQA will answer any requests for supporting information from Australian Universities within two business days. We will provide the information directly to the Tertiary Admissions Centre or university.

Privacy of your information

We can only make the information available to tertiary institutions if you have set your tertiary release indicator to "Yes".

There are differences between Australian and New Zealand privacy laws. This means we do not know if the Australian organisations that access your information:

  • will make any use or disclosure of it in the future
  • will protect your information in a way that is comparable to New Zealand's Privacy Act 2020.

Contacts – Australia

Information on how and when to apply for each state is available from the websites below.

States covered Name of Admissions Centre Contact details
Queensland Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre Ltd Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre Ltd

South Australia

Northern Territory

South Australian Tertiary Admissions Centre South Australian Tertiary Admissions Centre
Western Australia Tertiary Institutions Service Centre Tertiary Institutions Service Centre

New South Wales

Australian Capital Territory

Universities Admissions Centre Universities Admissions Centre
Tasmania University of Tasmania University of Tasmania
Victoria Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre

Contact us

For more information, email

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