Are you planning to study in New Zealand? This country really seems to have it all - world-class universities, high quality of life, diverse communities, vibrant cities, stunning natural scenery and an unbeatable range of outdoor pursuits - and all within a relatively compact area.
Cities such as Auckland and Wellington offer no shortage of cultural activities, while for those with a passion for the great outdoors, the range of terrains to explore is mind-blowing - including glaciers, mountains, rainforest and of course coast.
Universities in New Zealand
As for the universities, New Zealand has eight universities in total, of which seven feature in the 2012/13 QS World University Rankings - not at all bad considering the country's population is only around 4 million.
Of universities in New Zealand, the highest ranking goes to the University of Auckland (83), followed by the University of Otago (133), University of Canterbury (221), Victoria University of Wellington (237), Massey University (308) and the University of Waikato (374).
Meanwhile, Auckland University of Technology entered the rankings for the first time in 2012, with a good first-time position in the 451-500 range. In addition, there are 20 institutes of technology and polytechnics, which offer vocational courses of varying lengths and levels.
Facts about New Zealand
Capital city: Wellington
Largest city: Auckland (a third of citizens live in and around Auckland)
Made up of islands - the main two are simply called ‘North Island’ and ‘South Island’
Population of just 4 million (compared to 62 million in the similarly sized UK)
Parliamentary democracy, modelled on the UK governmental system
People from New Zealand are commonly known as ‘Kiwis’
More than a third of people living in Auckland were born outside of New Zealand
Main languages: English and Maori
Major exports include: wool, dairy products, wood, paper, fish, meat and chemicals
Currency: New Zealand dollar
Located to the south-east of Australia
Known for national rugby team, the ‘All Blacks’, who perform the traditional haka dance before matches
Indigenous ethnic group, the Maori, today make up about 15% of the population
More than 20% of New Zealand's land territory is categorized as national parks, forest areas and reserves; there are also 34 marine reserves
Here you can discover some of New Zealand’s top student cities...
Universities in Auckland
On the east coast of North Island, Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city and home to its highest ranking university, the University of Auckland. Universities in Auckland also include Auckland University of Technology and several institutes of technology and polytechnics, while Massey University’s Albany campus is less than 20km north of the city center.
Auckland is known for its especially multicultural community, and (though this is true of the whole country) for the wide range of high-adrenaline activities available in and around the city. Jet-skiing, canyoning, surfing, abseiling, bungee-jumping, snowboarding, climbing, diving – you get the idea. Or of course you might choose to simply relax on the beach!
Universities in Wellington
On the south coast of North Island, Wellington is the capital city of New Zealand. Universities in Wellington include Victoria University of Wellington, and one of Massey University’s three campuses, as well as three institutes of technology and polytechnics.
Wellington is generally said to be more attractive than rival Auckland, and has a good selection of culture, cuisine and nightlife within a relatively compact area. And of course, stunning natural scenery is never far away in New Zealand – here, you’ll find beaches, forests, islands, hills and vineyards all within reach.
Universities in Christchurch
Christchurch is located on the east coast of South Island, and is the largest city on the island. Universities in Christchurch include the University of Canterbury (New Zealand’s second highest ranking) and Lincoln University, as well as a selection of specialist colleges, many of them private.
The city is currently in the midst of major redevelopment projects, following damage from earthquakes in 2010 and 2011, and the general consensus seems to be that it’s just as lively as before the natural disasters struck.
Marketing itself as the ‘Garden City’, Christchurch prides itself on its large areas of public parkland and picturesque river banks, as well as its thriving arts and cultural scene. And yes, since this is New Zealand, you’ll find the usual broad selection of outdoor pursuits.
New Zealand university admissions
The academic year for higher education in New Zealand runs from March to November. However, some courses may also allow students to start in July. Most universities have just two terms (semesters), with the exception of Victoria University of Wellington, which has three terms (trimesters).
As well as having completed secondary level qualifications recognized by New Zealand’s universities, applicants also need to prove English language proficiency. For undergraduate courses, a score of at least 6.0 in the IELTS (or 79-80 in the TOEFL) is required. For graduate courses, the minimum is 6.5 (IELTS) or 90-100 (TOEFL).
New Zealand does not have a centralized university applications service, so students need to apply individually to each university they’re interested in. Deadlines for this are set by each institution.
Tuition fees in New Zealand
Tuition fees in New Zealand vary depending both on the institution and the subject. As an example, in 2012, international students taking an undergraduate law degree would be charged between NZ$23,000 (US$18,900) and NZ$27,360 (US$22,500) per year. A full list of fees for each subject and at each university is provided by Universities New Zealand - the organization which represents New Zealand's universities.
New Zealand student visas
Those who are planning to study in New Zealand for more than three months need to apply for a student visa (for less than three months, a visitor visa is fine). New Zealand student visa requirements include:
Proof of an offer of a place at an approved institution
Evidence of sufficient funds to cover living expenses and a flight back to your home country
For those under 18, a letter guaranteeing suitable accommodation has been arranged
For those over 17, a police certificate of good character
For courses over 12 months, medical certificates, which may include screening for tuberculosis
Visa applications are made via the nearest branch of the New Zealand Immigration organization. The application fee varies depending on where you’re applying from.