Education in New Zealand

New Zealand’s education system has several levels:

  • early childhood education ( from birth to school entry age of 5)
  • primary school (Ages 5-10 ,Years 1-6)
  • intermediate school (Ages 11-12 ,Years 7-8)
  • secondary schools  ( Ages 13-18 ,Years 9-13)
  • tertiary education (Ages 18+)

Generally international students join New Zealand education providers for tertiary education after the completion of equivalent secondary school in their home country or elsewhere.

Tertiary education

Tertiary education in New Zealand is generally characterized for students who are over the age of 18. However, you must meet required qualification to start tertiary education. Wide range of education providers is available to deliver tertiary education. New Zealand has eight state-funded universities, 18 Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs) and about 550 Private Training Establishments (PTEs), which include English language schools.

Education providers offer qualifications at every level – certificates, diplomas, graduate and post-graduate degrees. They’re all ranked on what’s called the New Zealand Qualifications Framework NZQS.  You may check that your study programme will lead towards a qualification on the NZQF, because this means it’s quality assured and quality is recognized and trusted worldwide; you will have the knowledge and skill acquired when you graduate and this will open possibilities for further education and employment opportunities anywhere in the world.

The education providers for tertiary education can be categorized as:


Universities offer higher degree-level education. Programmes are research-led and generally academic rather than vocational. All New Zealand’s universities offer a broad range of subjects for undergraduate, Masters and Doctoral (PhD) degrees in commerce, science and the humanities. Some universities offer degrees in specialist fields – such as medicine, agriculture, engineering, etc.

All universities are ranked within top 500 universities of the world according to QS World University Rankings® 2016-2017. This is to say New Zealand universities are ranked in the top 3% in the world. And all eight of New Zealand’s universities were in the top 100 in at least one subject.

ITPs and PTEs

ITPs and a few larger PTEs offer vocational degree-level education while other PTEs tend to offer specific vocational programmes, mainly at certificate and diploma level.  Many ITPs also offer English language training and postgraduate study options, including up to Doctoral (PhD) level. Courses are more vocationally oriented, emphasizing practical experience and application to work situations. A degree from one of these institutions has equal status with a university degree

New Zealand has over 700 private training establishments (PTEs) that provide job pathways into specialist industries like Business and Technology, Food and Hospitality, Tourism Commercial Aviation Animation and Game Design. 

Links and references