Study in New Zealand

  • The New Zealand education system is globally respected. It's based on the UK system so it won't be too different, and is designed to teach you loads of transferable skills
  • New Zealand's universities and researchers have a reputation for being independent thinkers, and they have had a large role in the development of a range of subject areas, from film-making to biotechnology
  • Students from all over the world choose to study in New Zealand; you'll be immersed within an exciting, culturally diverse environment - whilst receiving a quality education

Discuss studying in New Zealand with other people in the forums.

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New Zealand's education system

The education system in New Zealand is similar to the UK's in the types of degrees you can get, however there are some differences - for example, the academic year is structured very differently. The types of degrees you can study for in New Zealand include:

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  • Bachelors Degree - An undergraduate degree lasting three years
  • Honours Degree - An extra year after your Bachelors Degree
  • Masters Degree - A postgraduate degree that takes two years to complete after your Bachelors, or one year if you already hold an Honours Degree
  • Doctorate (PhD) - An original piece of research, usually lasting at least 3 years, completed after an Honours or Masters degree

While this system is reasonably similar to the UK, the academic year in New Zealand couldn't be more different. Most universities have their own timetables, but generally the academic year is split into two semesters, each lasting around 12 weeks.

The academic year begins in late February/early March and ends in October, with the main holiday being in the summer months - November through to February. Each semester is split into two halves, with a two week break in the middle and a six week break between the semesters. However, these breaks are not supposed to be holidays, but rather an opportunity for individual research and study.

Each semester begins with an orientation week, which is similar to Freshers weeks in the UK. It's usually filled with live music and events, and is a great opportunity to meet people and make friends.

After this, classes begin - they usually take place between Monday and Friday each week of the semester. The library and other facilities are usually open on weekends as well, but this will depend on the individual university.

Each semester ends with exams; these can take place any day between Monday - Saturday and are designed to test your knowledge from that semester.

Find out about how to apply to university in New Zealand

How much will it cost?

Tuition fees

New Zealand tuition fees are often similar to, or more expensive than the UK. They must also be paid in advance each year, as a requirement of the student Visa.

On top of the actual tuition, New Zealand tuition fees cover the cost of:

  • Registration and enrollment
  • Government Service Tax
  • Student health and counselling
  • Language Support
  • Use of most campus facilities

You can expect to pay between NZ$21,000 - NZ$31,000 (£10,107- £14,909) per year for an undergraduate degree. (However if you are looking to study courses such as engineering and medicine you could be paying significantly more)

While a postgraduate degree could cost you Up to NZ$36,000 (£17,330) per year.


Living expenses

Each month you can expect to spend around:

  • Accommodation: NZ$420 - NZ$800 (£202 - £385)
  • Food: NZ$300(£144)
  • Travel: NZ$129 (£62)
  • Utilities: NZ$100 (£48)

However, on top of this, you may have a number of one-off costs including:

  • Books and stationary: NZ$500 per year (£241)
  • Student ID card: $20 (£10)
  • Student's Association Membership: $30 (£14)

Find out about student Visas and what you need to apply to university in New Zealand


The currency in New Zealand is the New Zealand Dollar, depicted by NZ$. The current exchange rate is NZ$1 : £0.48

Exchange rates can change quickly and, while this value is correct at the time of writing, it's worth checking again before you travel.

Financial assisstance

New Zealand offers over 50 different scholarships and types of financial aid to UK students, however whether you qualify for any of these depends on a range of factors including your course and level of study.

Search here to see what financial aid is available for you

Working while you study

If you have a student visa, you are usually permitted to work up to 20 hours a week. To do this, you must meet at least one of several conditions.

To view these conditions follow this link.

These rules don't apply to postgraduate students, or those students that are required to take part in work experience as part of their course.

In New Zealand, if you are earning money you must pay tax on it regardless of how much you earn, however there are also labour laws in place which ensures there is a minimum wage. Employers don't take advantage of, or mistreat, their staff and there is no discrimination between genders or ethnicities in the work place.

If you are planning on looking for a job in New Zealand while you study, Student Job Search is a good place to start. They are a national organisation who help students find work. They have offices on most campuses and can help you find a wide range of jobs, from restaurant work, to manual labour. Minimum wage for adults is $14.25 before tax.

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Living in New Zealand

What to expect from people

Generally, people in New Zealand are very open and friendly. They're keen to answer questions about their culture, and even more eager to ask about yours. This means studying in New Zealand is a great opportunity to learn about another society and their customs.

In conversation, personal comments and questions about people are often considered rude, therefore it's a good idea to avoid them. Similarly, you'll find people don't often display emotions or affection openly in public, so be prepared for more formal greetings such as handshakes, as opposed to hugs.

Interactions with people you haven't met before - and professionals - are quite formal. When you want to see anyone, for example a lecturer or a doctor, you'll need to make an appointment in advance, as it's unlikely you'll just be able to turn up and see them. In these cases, and in everyday life, punctuality is considered important and arriving more than 10 minutes late is considered rude.

Most people socialise in pubs, cafes, bars and restaurants. These often close quite early on weekdays, between 9-11pm, but stay open a bit later on weekends. The legal drinking age in New Zealand is 18, but you'll need photo ID to prove your age and purchase alcohol in bars, pubs or shops.

Campus activities

Getting involved in clubs, sports and group activities on campus is a really fun and easy way to make friends and meet new people. New Zealanders love their outdoor sports like hiking, swimming and rugby, so studying in New Zealand can be a great opportunity to get involved and try a sport you've maybe not tried before.

Alternatively, you could try signing up or a club or other activity. You could get involved in something you know you're interested in, for example drama or photography, or you could try something completely new - like taking a Māori cooking class - where you can meet new people and learn a new skill.

Universities may also host events such as musical performances, guest lectures or fund raising events. Going to these is (again) a brilliant way to meet people who might have the same interests as you - as well as helping out the local community, learning something new or just having a bit of fun.

Find out about student accommodation in New Zealand

Where to study?

New Zealand is home to just 8 universities and 23 polytechnics. However, despite this small number, there are a wide range of courses available - many of which are aided by New Zealand's naturally diverse environment which offers opportunities to research certain topics first hand. That's why studying anything, from endangered marine mammals to earthquake engineering, is possible in New Zealand.

Most universities offer a range of core degrees in the arts, business and science but each one also teaches certain specialty courses - therefore making New Zealand one of the best places in the world to study physiotherapy, social work, geology, sports science and marine biology.

Two of New Zealand's universities feature in top 200 of the QS World Univeristy Rankings 2014; the University of Auckland at 92 and University of Otago at 159. The complete list of all 8 of New Zealand's universities is listed below, with their world ranking in brackets, where appropriate:

Useful links

More from TSR

General external links

Tuition fees and funding

Applications and Visas

Head over to the forums to ask all your questions about studying abroad