Understanding Education in New Zealand: What are your options?
After secondary school, the idea of tertiary education can be daunting.
But let’s face it, in this day and age, increasing competition and demand for skilled employees has made tertiary study an almost necessary component in securing a stable career.
With an abundance of options available, it can be challenging to decipher between them all.
This article intends to clarify those options and assist you on your journey with life after school.
Tertiary education in New Zealand is provided by several education institutions. These are:
Option 1: University
The most popular type of higher education in New Zealand is University. A university qualification is similar to that of high school in that it is commonly completed in a classroom environment with a set number of lectures per week. However, degrees provide an extra level of freedom as they can be completed online or within a part-time structure to fit your timetable.
Furthermore, a university degree is much more student-focused, meaning you take responsibility for your own learning. Typically, a bachelor’s degree (entrance degree) will take three years. A further year of study would grant an Honours degree. If a student wishes to continue studying, an honours degree may be followed by a master’s degree.
The average tuition fees for a full-time four-year degree at a New Zealand university is between $10,000-$25,000 (student loans and financial aid are available). Most universities have selective admission, where candidates must fulfil New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) requirements as well as additional applications.
According to a study conducted by ‘Careers New Zealand’ students who have completed a Bachelor’s degree are 68% more likely to be employed two years after completion of their degree than their non-qualified counterparts. In addition, the universities we have here in New Zealand are among the most prestigious in the world bringing in over 50,000 international students each year. If this sounds like a learning path you would enjoy, don’t hesitate to apply for one of the eight universities we have in New Zealand.
“In New Zealand, almost 4 out of 5 adults have a formal qualification.”
Option 2: Institutes of Technology/Polytechnics
Another popular choice of tertiary education is attending an Institute of Technology or Polytechnic. These organisations offer general technical and vocational education, as well as applied research courses. Most of the learning takes place in classrooms, simulated work environments, external workplaces or a combination of these. The assessments are generally based around a show of practical knowledge in a working environment.
Previously, institutes of technology and polytechnics have been perceived to be solely IT, engineering and trade-focused. However, they offer a similar range of courses as Universities, including health, communications, psychology, law and more.
The average cost for a Polytechnic qualification is between $6,000-$8,000 per annum. The main difference is that a polytechnic certification is more focused on practical training rather than gathering research and evidence. Hence, pursuing higher education in this field would be suitable for those who learn best through hands-on experience.
“96% of polytechnic learners say their study is valuable for their current job.”
Option 3: Private Training Establishments
The third option for higher education is attending a Private Training Establishment (PTE). PTEs are education providers that usually specialise in a specific niche such as tourism, design or ICT. They are similar to that of Polytechnics in regards to their ‘hands-on’ way of learning. However, private training establishments take it a step further as even their tutors are drawn from the industry rather than academia, and the goal for most learners is to reach employment quickly.
Most Private training establishments provide courses that are NZQA-accredited; these usually lead to certificates and diplomas, although a small number of PTEs also offer degrees. PTE programmes that are NZQA approved receive government funding subsidies, and students in these programmes are able to access the public student financial support system. Private training establishments offer an alternative mode of learning to that of traditional academia. By doing so, they provide a supportive learning environment for those who may struggle with a more standardized way of learning.
“There was an equal number of students attending Universities and Private Training Establishments in New Zealand as of 2013.”
Option 4: Industry training organisations
Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) are another well-established form of tertiary education in New Zealand. These organisations focus on competency-based Assessment Standards and qualifications related to your chosen industry by co-ordinating apprenticeships and other structured training for employees. The main advantage of an Industry Training Organisation is that it enables you to qualify while being in a full-time job.
This could be suitable for students who have other responsibilities they need to be accountable for. ITOs currently cover most of New Zealand’s industries from traditional trades like building and plumbing, the primary industries, and manufacturing, through to retail, government, and community services.
The average length of an ITO qualification is four years with the first year being free. The second two years on average are a cost of $12,000 NZD, which makes receiving a diploma through an ITO one of the most cost-effective methods. Ultimately, Industry Training Organisations are designed to give a holistic approach to learning. They believe that to work at your best, your learning should be tailored specifically to the industry you plan to pursue.
Option 5: Maori Education (Wananga)
Wānanga are publicly owned tertiary institutions that provide education in a Māori cultural context. In Maori tradition, the word wānanga is related to highly evolved knowledge, lore, arts, and discussion to create a deeper understanding. Wānanga mirror mainstream universities in many ways as they offer certificates, diplomas, bachelor-level degrees and some even provide programmes in specialised areas up to the doctorate level. Similarly, all Maori Wananga programmes are accredited through the NZQA and the Ministry of Education.
Chosen by over 30,000 students every year at over 80 locations across the country, Wananga will help you develop your potential to help you succeed in your chosen career. A degree with a Wananga will cost between $2000-$7500 per year depending on your area of study. However, subsidies such as
‘Fees Free’ are available to New Zealanders to help reduce costs.
If you want to pursue an education whilst deepening your understanding of Maori culture, this could be the right path for you.
“Te Wananga is New Zealand’s second-largest education provider.”
Now that you know your options, it’s time to make a decision. While the prospect of boundless unemployment sounds like a dream on paper, doing nothing all year gets boring fast. When making your decision, remember to consider factors such as distance from home, affordability, entry requirements and ultimately your future. Whatever you choose, remember that the value of education is priceless. As Martin X once said, “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.”
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