Understanding the New Zealand University System

New Zealand Higher Education Structure

New Zealand has eight state-funded universities and 16 Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs), now consolidated into the Te Pūkenga-New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology (NZIST), providing practical and vocational training. Private Training Establishments (PTEs), including English language schools, number around 550, offering various courses. Whether you seek a traditional university experience, hands-on training, or language proficiency, New Zealand's diverse educational landscape can cater to your needs.

New Zealand Universities

New Zealand takes pride in its universities, as all of them have achieved remarkable recognition. According to the QS World University Rankings, every university in New Zealand is ranked within the top 3% globally. This outstanding achievement reflects the high standard of education offered by these institutions.

New Zealand Qualifications Framework

The New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF) is a qualifications framework that lies at the core of New Zealand's education system. It provides a trusted and recognised quality assurance for all listed qualifications, be it at the secondary or tertiary level. Administered by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA), the NZQF sets stringent rules to ensure the excellence and standardisation of qualifications. The NZQA approves non-university education qualifications on the framework, while the Committee on University Academic Programmes (CUAP) at Universities New Zealand handles the approval of university qualifications.

NZQF levels

In New Zealand, qualifications are categorised into different levels on the NZQF, which are as follows:

New Zealand Study Levels

Understanding New Zealand Tertiary Study

In New Zealand, tertiary study options include universities, institutes of technology and polytechnics (ITPs), and private training establishments (PTEs).

Te Pūkenga - New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology (NZIST) is a government-established institution comprising 16 ITPs. It offers industry-specific training, enhancing employability with hands-on skills and practical experience. Private Training Establishments (PTEs) focus on practical courses for specific industries. They have smaller class sizes and strong employer connections. While PTEs offer certificates and diplomas, some larger ones also provide degrees.

Qualifications obtained through tertiary study in New Zealand are featured on the NZQF. The NZQF has 10 levels, from secondary school qualifications (NCEA) to doctoral degrees. Each qualification meets high-quality standards set by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority.

Grading System

The grading system in tertiary schools, such as universities and colleges, typically follows a letter scale with corresponding percentage bands. The specific grading scale may vary slightly between institutions; sometimes, even different departments within the same university may adopt variations. In New Zealand, for example, the following grading system is commonly used:

Grade Percentage Range
A+ More than 84%
A 80% - 84%
A- 75% - 79%
B+ 70% - 74%
B 65% - 69%
B- 60% - 64%
C+ 55% - 59%
C 50% - 54%
D 40% - 49%
E Less than 40%

Grading System for Vocational or Technician Certificate Programs

Grade Range Corresponding Percentage Course Result Percentage Range
A+ 90% - 100% Pass 9
A 85% - 89% Pass 8
A- 80% - 84% Pass 7
B+ 75% - 79% Pass 6
B 70% - 74% Pass 5
B- 65% - 69% Pass 4
C+ 60% - 64% Pass 3
C 55% - 59% Pass 2
C- 50% - 54% Pass 1
D 40% - 49% Fail 0
E 0% - 39% Fail 0
Pass N/A Awarded pass with no grade 5
Fail N/A Awarded fail with no grade 0
AEF N/A Aggregate fail 0
AEG N/A Aggregate pass 5

- Calculate your GPA for New Zealand universities

To calculate your GPA (Grade Point Average), you follow these steps:

Calculate the weighted grade for each paper:

For each paper where the points are included in the total of 240 points or greater, multiply the numeric value of the grade by the points value.

Sum up all the weighted grades obtained in step 2.

Add up the total points for all the papers included in the calculation.

Divide the total weighted grade (step 3) by the total sum of points (step 4).

Ensure that you report your GPA to the nearest three decimal places for accuracy.

GPA = (Sum of (grade value x points value)) ÷ (Sum of (total sum of points))

For example, if you have taken three papers with the following grades and points:

The calculation would be as follows:

Therefore, in this example, the GPA would be 5.833.

Study in New Zealand

Begin your New Zealand university application by arranging a free consultation with SI-New Zealand today.


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Isabella Ramos