Education System

Ages 0-5

Early childhood

Ages 5-10

Primary school

Ages 11-12

Intermediate school

Ages 13-18

Secondary school

Ages 18+

Tertiary education

Students in New Zealand are supported to solve problems, process information, work with others, create and innovate. Whichever level you’re studying at, New Zealand can give you a high-quality education that will enable you to achieve your goals.

Early childhood

Ages 0-5

Early childhood education provides education and care for children before they are old enough to go to school.</p> <p>New Zealand has more than 4000 licensed early childhood education services available, including kindergartens, childcare centres, play centres, home-based care and playgroups.

Primary school

Ages 5-10 (Years 1-6)

Primary school students study subjects guided by New Zealand National Curriculum: English, the arts, health and physical education, languages, mathematics and statistics, science, social sciences and technology.</p> <p>Students’ abilities in reading, writing and maths are regularly assessed against expectations for their age level, as set out by New Zealand’s National Standards.</p> <p>National Standards

Intermediate school

Ages 11-12 (Years 7-8)

Intermediate schools are a bridge between primary school and secondary school.</p> <p>Primary education starts at Year 1 and continues through to Year 8. Years 7 and 8 are offered either at a primary school or at a separate intermediate school.

Secondary school

Ages 13-18 (Years 9-13)

New Zealand has three types of school:</p> <p>state schools, where 85% of Kiwi children go<br /> state-integrated schools, which may be run by a religious faith or use specialist teaching methods<br /> private schools.<br /> Students at secondary schools - also known as high schools or colleges - work towards the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA). Secondary schools also offer some vocational subjects, such as tourism and computing.</p> <p>Some schools also offer Cambridge International Examinations and International Baccalaureate programmes.

Tertiary education

Ages 18+

New Zealand has eight state-funded universities, 16 Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs) and about 550 Private Training Establishments (PTEs), which include English language schools.</p> <p>Choose the type of institution that’s best for your career path:</p> <p>Universities offer higher degree-level education. Programmes are research-led and generally academic rather than vocational. In the 2015/16 QS World University Rankings, all eight of New Zealand’s universities were in the top 100 in at least one subject.<br /> ITPs and a few larger PTEs offer vocational degree-level education.<br /> PTEs tend to offer specific vocational programmes, mainly at certificate and diploma level.

Quality and Standards

Study in New Zealand for a high-quality education and world-class qualifications.

Learn more about our education system’s quality and standards

Quality assured

New Zealand government agencies monitor the quality of all areas of the education system.

This ensures students gain the skills they need and obtain qualifications that are relevant and good value for money.

Agencies responsible for quality assurance include:

  • The Ministry of Education, which develops education goals and curriculum for primary and secondary schools
  • the Education Review Office, which checks the quality of education and student support in primary and secondary schools
  • the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, which ensures the qualifications offered by secondary schools and non-university tertiary institutions are regarded in New Zealand and around the world as credible and robust
  • Universities New Zealand, which ensures all eight New Zealand universities provide quality qualifications and education
  • the Education Council of Aotearoa New Zealand, which is responsible for maintaining professional standards for primary and secondary school teachers.
Understanding our qualifications

The New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF) has 10 levels and covers a range of qualifications, from certificates to doctoral degrees.

Any programme you’re considering studying in New Zealand should tell you which level of the NZQF you’d achieve when you graduated, as well as which qualification you’d obtain.

The NZQF levels are:

  • levels 1-4, which cover the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) – the main qualification in secondary schools – and basic trades training
  • levels 5-6, which cover advanced trades, technical and business qualifications
  • levels 7-10, which cover degrees, graduate and postgraduate qualifications.

Learn more about our qualifications on the NZQA website.

Globally recognised

The main qualification in New Zealand secondary schools, the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA), is widely recognised internationally.

Places that recognise NCEA include Australia, the United Kingdom, Europe, Germany, India and Thailand.

New Zealand Bachelor Degrees are widely recognised internationally for enrolment in postgraduate programmes at universities around the world.

New Zealand has signed agreements with groups of European and Asia-Pacific countries that commit to recognising each other’s qualifications.

These agreements include the Lisbon Recognition Convention in Europe, which has been signed by 50 countries and international organisations including the European Union, the United States, Australia, Canada, Russia and Israel.

Learn more about international recognition of our qualifications on the NZQA website.

Caring for students

If you study in New Zealand as an international student, education providers are responsible for making sure you are well informed, safe and properly cared for.

The New Zealand government’s Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students sets out the fair and ethical practices and support systems our education providers must have before enrolling international students.

The code covers international students at all ages and levels of education.

The New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) ensures all education providers are meeting the code’s requirements. Learn more on the NZQA website.