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Education System in New Zealand


For a country with just 8 Universities but one that still manages to attract more than 100,000 people from all over the world every year coming to study, New Zealand must be truly doing something right to be attracting such massive attention. What kind of education do international students stand to get when they enrol in any of New Zealand’s educational institutions. What shape or form does the educational system have? And how long would you be expecting to spend in order to complete your chosen program? What is so unique about New Zealand that is fast making the favourite destination for international students?

The System

The New Zealand educational system is fashioned to reflect the staunch belief kiwis have in the right of everyone to have unfettered access to a quality education. This education system is built to cater for not just the local population, but it is also all-embracing as international students from all countries find it very accommodating to all kinds of aspirations.

New Zealand’s education system is among the highest rated in the world, and its universities are consistently considered among the 50 best in the whole world. Despite the availability of private institutions, kiwis themselves prefer attending publicly owned and funded schools due to the very highest standards maintained at such schools. As far as funding is concerned, there is no country in the world that gives education as large a percentage of its annual budget than New Zealand!


Not only does New Zealand has a highly rated educational system, it also very much tailored to reflect the vast diversity that it welcomes every year.  The key reason why New Zealand’s education system is massively growing in popularity is that it gives equal priority to both the academic and practical aspects of learning. And instead of forcing kids into career paths they didn’t plan on, they are allowed to explore their inner selves and talents and arrive at a decision as to exactly what they want to do once they graduate from secondary school. New Zealand education system welcomes all religions, ethnicities and abilities. It also has a special education arrangement for the native Maori population at every level.

A Three Tiered System

New Zealand’s education system is divided into three distinct levels. For every stage of development of an individual right from birth, there is an avenue created for their education. The levels are:

Early Childhood Education (ECE): This is the very first stage of New Zealand’s renowned education system, and the testament to this country’s love for education even kids start well before their entry age into primary schools. The early childhood education is meant for toddlers from the early years to primary school entering age, usually between 3 and 5 years. In every week a child can attend any of the many ECE programs available for 20 hours in a week. All ECE programs are completely free and come in various forms like Kindergartens, play centres and Chattered Early childhood centres.


Primary and Secondary Schools: From the age of 5 to 19 all of New Zealand’s young citizens are entitled to a free primary and secondary school education. Education at this stage is more or less compulsory at this stage, as any child between the age of 6 and 16 is obligated to attend school. New Zealand wants and plans for the very best for its citizens and hence its future, that is why children are provided with some of the best learning environments in the world.

Primary and Secondary school children attend school almost all year long with 4 different terms that are evenly spread throughout the year. The school year begins in February with the first term which ends mid-April. This is then followed by a two-week break with the second term beginning late April extending until early July. The two weekly break cycle repeats itself till the last term in December, bringing the school year to a close. After the fourth term ends there are a 6 weeks break before school resumes once again.

There are three main categories of primary and secondary schools children can attend, the first of which is the public owned and funded schools, which are entirely free with the minor costs like books borne by parents. The second is some of the religious schools that are integrated by the system, which are also free with minimal costs. And lastly, the private schools which can cost anything from $4000 to $28,000 according to the means of the ward's parents.


 Tertiary or Higher Education

This is the sum total of all post-secondary school types of education ranging from Universities to polytechnics and other registered training establishments. As international students this is our main area of concerns. New Zealand has 8 Universities that are all public owned, it has 18 polytechnics and technology institutes and a whopping 600 specialized training institutes where special skills are taught.

Almost all of New Zealand’s Universities are considered to be among the 50 best in the whole world. Some of the areas of study where New Zealand is considered to be either leading or offer world class programs include Engineering, Medicine, Business, Information Technology and Biological Sciences.

The pace of life in New Zealand’s tertiary institutions is synonymous of the rest of life in the island, as it is laid back but without losing anything of its edge at meeting rigorous international standards. New Zealand’s education system prides itself at striking the balance between pursuing excellence and maintaining physical and emotional wellbeing, as such a student will earn a degree, diploma or any other post-secondary education that will be accepted anywhere in the world without ever feeling stressed out to the brink of losing their minds due to pressure.

As a whole New Zealand’s Educational system is above par and sets some very important examples for other countries, even developed one to emulate. That is why from Ivy League schools in the US, and the old establishments in the UK, you will find students from all over the world on exchange programs in New Zealand, all of whom appreciate the easy pace and top standards of this amazing country’s education system

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