New Zealand education system

The education system in New Zealand is governed and administered by a number of different agencies and providers at different levels. This page includes information about these agencies and how they interact with international students.

New Zealand’s education system has 3 levels:

  • Early childhood education – from birth to school entry age
  • Primary and secondary school – from ages 5 to 19 (school is compulsory between the ages of 6 to 16)
  • Further education – includes all higher and vocational education.

The New Zealand curriculum

Secondary schools deliver the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA). This secondary school qualification is usually assessed in the last 3 years of school, years 11 to 13.

National Certificate of Educational Achievement

Further education includes technical and vocational education providers and universities. In New Zealand this includes polytechnics and institutes of technology, private training establishments, government training establishments, Maori provider and wānanga and industry training organisations. Adult and community education, including some English language courses, are included at this level. Many of these education providers will accept international students.

Find education providers that accept international students

Government agencies in the education sector

There are a number of government agencies in New Zealand with oversight of the education sector. Find out more about what each of these agencies do in relation to international education.

Education New Zealand

Education New Zealand (ENZ) is a crown entity and the lead organisation marketing New Zealand’s education industry overseas. ENZ is focused on growing international education through research, marketing and student recruitment programmes. They also work with the international education industry to develop products and services.

The ENZ website includes an international events calendar as well as marketing and business development resources. ENZ also compile market overview and trends data, including international student numbers by region.

ENZ also administer the Study in New Zealand website. The website is directed at international students thinking of studying in New Zealand and wanting more information.

International education is worth more than NZD $2 billion to the New Zealand economy. International education is important to our cultural and social links with the world. It also helps strengthen our education system and contribute to research, innovation, trade and tourism. More on this can be found in the Leadership Statement for International Education.

Education New Zealand

Study in New Zealand

Leadership Statement for International Education

New Zealand Qualifications Authority

The New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) is responsible for quality assurance in the secondary education sector and non-university tertiary education sector.

In the secondary sector they assess student exam results, moderate schools’ internal assessments and administer the NCEA.

The non-university sector includes polytechnics and institutes of technology, private training establishments, government training establishments, Maori provider, wānanga and industry training organisations. NZQA is involved with registration, assessment and moderation of this sector.

NZQA also develops and maintains the New Zealand Qualifications Framework. The Framework is the source for all quality assured qualifications in New Zealand, and includes qualifications open to international students.

NZQA also administers the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students. This includes maintaining the register of all education providers that the Code applies to.


New Zealand Qualifications Framework

Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students

Tertiary Education Commission

The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) is a crown entity that invests government funding in the tertiary education sector. It also provides information and advice to Government and monitors the performance of tertiary education organisations. Each year TEC invests around NZD $2.8 billion into the tertiary education sector in New Zealand.

Tertiary Education Commission

Ministry of Education

The Ministry of Education (MoE) provides strategic policy for the education sector in New Zealand. MoE undertakes research and analysis in the sector, monitor’s capacity and provides policy advice to the Government. It provides resources and support to education providers, monitors their standards and funds and maintains school property. It also provides support and resources for teachers to increase their professional development and improve the overall education system.

While TEC and NZQA work more closely with the post-compulsory education sector, MoE focuses more on primary and secondary schooling.

The MoE website has a range of information for primary and secondary schools relating to international students. This includes student visitor and exchange programmes, information for international students and their parents, and information about the Export Education Levy.

Ministry of Education

International education information