Study in Zealand – Admissions, Scholarships, and Visa

New Zealand has an impressive higher education system. The country hosts eight universities in total, all of which are included in the top 500 in the QS World University Rankings 2018. In addition to these universities, there are 18 technology and polytechnic institutes. These institutions help students to develop vocational skills through more practical and hands-on experiences.

Overall, in the Education System Strength Rankings of 2016, New Zealand placed 16th. As a rather small country, with a population estimated at 4.7 million, this is a significant achievement. High quality in education is achieved through the implementation of the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF).

One of the most attractive features of higher education in New Zealand is the class size. Classes are small, which allows for high levels of tutor/student interaction and mentoring.

Why Study in New Zealand

New Zealand offers international students a high-quality experience. With its picturesque landscape, endless outdoor adventures, friendly locals and reputable educational institutions, New Zealand is an excellent choice for undergraduate and postgraduate study. Depending on your choice of location, vibrant cities, outdoor pursuits and cultural excursions will ensure your life outside of university is as busy and diverse as your studies!

New Zealand Culture and Lifestyle

New Zealander’s are well known for their laid back approach to life and are globally regarded as a welcoming and friendly nation. Rugby is a hugely important part of the culture in New Zealand. It is ingrained in its society and culture, and New Zealand is known to host many of the world’s most well-regarded rugby teams.

Maori culture is also a big part of life in New Zealand. Maoris are the indigenous people of New Zealand and their culture influences the day-to-day life there. The Maori language is also present in New Zealand, and you may hear the same place referred to by two different names – the Maori name and the English name.

Unlike other countries, New Zealand is separated into two parts; the North Island and the South Island. It is possible to travel between the two, normally by a 3 ½ hour ferry ride. The largest cities are Auckland and Wellington in the North Island and Christchurch in the South. In 2017, Auckland was ranked 8th on the Global Liveability Ranking 2017, scoring 95.7 out of 100.

Top New Zealand Universities

In the QS World University Rankings 2019, the eight New Zealand universities that ranked in the global top 500 were:

  1. Auckland University of Technology
  2. Massey University
  3. Lincoln University
  4. University of Waikato
  5. University of Canterbury
  6. Victoria University of Wellington
  7. University of Otago
  8. University of Auckland

The University of Auckland
This is New Zealand’s highest ranking university, achieving 85th place in the QS World University Rankings 2019. As the largest university in New Zealand, it has a student population of over 40,000 students; 7000 of whom are international students from 120 countries around the world. The university, located in the harbour city of Auckland, has been voted one of the top 30 best student cities by QS in 2017.

University of Otago
Known for being New Zealand’s first university, Otago was established in 1869. Otago University is in the city of Dunedin, the second largest city in the South Island. The university is internationally reputed for its excellence and ranked at 175 in the 2019 QS World University Rankings. There are over 195 undergraduate and postgraduate courses available across Health Sciences, Sciences, Humanities and Business.

Victoria University of Wellington
Located in Wellington, Victoria University is ranked as the number one university in New Zealand, and often ranks among the world’s best universities. In the 2017/18 QS World University Rankings, it placed 219th, while also receiving a five-star University rating across all eight categories assessed. Top subjects to study at Victoria include Law, Archaeology, English, and History, which are all ranked in the top 100 of the QS World University Rankings by Subject.

Due to its location, the university benefits from its close proximity to and relations with the government, international agencies, environmental organisations, and research institutes.
Undergraduate Degrees

  • Graduate Diploma in Information Technology
  • Graduate Diploma in Animation
  • National Diploma in Science
  • Graduate Diploma in Lab Technology
  • Engineering

Postgraduate Degrees

  • Post Graduate Diploma of Computer Graphic Design
  • Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Professional Accounting
  • PG Diploma in Agricultural Science

Fees for International Students

Unlike other places around the world where fees are more standard across the country, tuition fee rate in New Zealand is set by individual institutions. Therefore the fees vary greatly and are dependent on the institution at which you are studying, as well as the subject that you choose. Generally, degrees in the arts and social sciences are cheapest, with science and engineering programmes costing more.

Tuition fees for foreign students are greater than those for domestic students, although there are occasions when fees for international students are dropped, such as on PhD programs. For international students, tuition fees typically range between NZ$22,000 and NZ$32,000 for bachelor’s degrees and NZ$26,000 to NZ$37,000 for postgraduate courses. However, a dentistry or medicine degree can have fees of up to NZ$75,000. These charges are per annum.

Some universities also charge an additional fee for student services and administration costs. The University of Otago, as an example, charges NZ$798 per student.

For full details on tuition fees at all New Zealand universities, visit the Te P?kai Tara site for further information.

International students must prove that they are able to financially support themselves when studying in New Zealand. To do this, students must have NZ$1,250 per month for a study period in New Zealand of less than nine months and NZ$15,000 if they will remain in New Zealand as a student for longer. This needs to be in addition to the amount required for tuition fees and return airfare.


New Zealand offers a variety of scholarships for international students wishing to study there, some of which are provided by the government. Scholarships differ depending on your own country of residence, the subject you wish to study and the level at which you will study.

Top Scholarships in New Zealand

Whilst there are a Number of Awards available, here is a list of some of the top scholarships you may wish to apply for if you decide to study in New Zealand:

  • Fulbright New Zealand US Graduate Award: This scholarship is for US students wanting to study a postgraduate or research program. The degree can be at any New Zealand university and covers any field or subject. This scholarship supports students with the cost of tuition, living, airfares and more.
  • New Zealand Foreign Affairs and Trade Scholarships: This scholarship is available to students from the Pacific and South-East Asia at undergraduate or postgraduate level. It provides full funding to students to cover a range of living and studying costs.
  • New Zealand International Doctoral Research Scholarships: This scholarship lasts for up to three years for international students on PhD programs. This scholarship is awarded to students excelling in their academic studies. Full tuition fees and all living costs are covered.

There are also university-specific opportunities that you may wish to consider:

  • Auckland University of Technology: This university offers a Number of Awards for international students.
  • Lincoln University: Scholarships for various subjects and study levels are available. See the website for further details.
  • Massey University Doctoral Scholarship: Scholarships for international doctoral students.
  • Southern Institute of Technology: Scholarships available for international students.
  • University of Auckland International Student Scholarships: Scholarships for all levels of study.
  • University of Canterbury: Various scholarships available for international students.
  • University of Otago: A Number of Awards for postgraduate studies.
  • University of Waikato: The International Excellence Scholarship, awarded based on academic excellence for both domestic and international students studying at all levels.
  • Victoria University of Wellington: A number of opportunities are available for international students.

Part-time Work and Making Money in New Zealand

The student visa for international students in New Zealand allows bachelor students to work for a maximum of 20 hours whilst studying during term time and full time in holidays. Postgraduate students, studying for a Master’s degree or PhD, are permitted to work for an unlimited number of hours per week throughout the year.

Living Costs in New Zealand

Living costs in New Zealand are fairly reasonable. While more expensive than studying in Asia, it is cheaper than attending university in the UK or US. International students studying in New Zealand would generally need around NZ$25,000 per year if spending carefully on a budget. You will need to increase this budget if you tend to find budgeting hard or prefer a more lavish lifestyle!

The major cities, such as Christchurch, Auckland and Wellington, do come with a higher price of living. While these cities rank as more affordable than New York and London, you should be prepared for increased living costs if you are hoping to study there. Housing costs in Auckland, for example, will be around NZ$150-300 and food costs around NZ$80-100 per week.

Many accommodation options are available to international students in New Zealand. Halls of residence are available, as well as private accommodation to rent or, if you are concerned about missing your family or missing out on home cooked meals, you may consider a homestay. If you choose a homestay, you will be placed to live with a family local to the area, and they will provide all of your meals for you. This will undoubtedly offer you an authentic New Zealand experience.

Student Visa

The student visa requirements for international students depends on the amount of time you are planning on studying in New Zealand. If you are there for less than three months, you will be able to stay in the country and complete your studies on a visitor visa. If you will stay for more than three months, you must apply for a student visa. For this visa, you will need to, firstly, secure a university placement. The government then requires evidence of sufficient funds for fees and living costs, health insurance, the submission of recent passport photos and medical evidence (for a stay of over 12 months). Proof that accommodation has been organised is required for students under 18. Students from Australia do not require a student visa.

To make an application, either visit your closest New Zealand Immigration organisation or apply online. The visa application is not free, and its cost depends on the country in which you apply from, although you can get a discount if you apply online.

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