Study in New Zealand

Are you aspiring to study in New Zealand? Want to learn what it is all about studying at an excellent university down under? Learn here about the country New Zealand, the visa requirements, cost of living, lifestyle and prospects of work during and after completion of studies.

Why New Zealand

New Zealand is a popular destination for overseas students desirous of undertaking graduate and postgraduate studies. The high standard of living and numerous work opportunities attract many foreigners to make New Zealand their home, for studies as well as work. Just like their counterparts from other parts of the world, Indian students too head for New Zealand in large numbers, mostly for postgraduate programs. One is easily bowled over by the friendliness that universities in particular and the country, in general, show to its foreign students. Compared to other western nations like the United States, UK and neighbouring Australia, overseas students have lot many advantages studying in New Zealand, in terms of ease of obtaining a student visa, job opportunities and permanent residency. In fact, there are a number of reasons why you should choose New Zealand for higher studies. The visa application and the admission process is quite simpler and hassle-free compared to countries in Europe and North America. All these and other important details like student visa, work visa and permanent residency we will learn in subsequent paragraphs. Until then, let us learn more about the universities in New Zealand and a little bit about the country too.

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About New Zealand

New Zealand is an island based country located in the southern Pacific Ocean. Australia is to its west and the Pacific island countries Fiji, Tonga and New Caledonia to the north. It is due to its remoteness that New Zealand was one of the last places in the world to be inhabited. It was in the 13th century that Polynesians first came to the islands. They later developed into the Maoris that we know today. Europeans arrived much later in the 17th century. It was Dutch sailor Abel Tasman who was the first European to spot New Zealand. It was in the 18th century that Europeans started arriving in New Zealand in large numbers. The name New Zealand was given by none other than the British explorer James Cook. By 1841, the sovereignty of the islands had gone into the hands of the British Empire. In 1947, the country finally got independence from the British but continued to have the British Monarch as the head of state. New Zealand however, values democratic principles and thus the political power rests with the Prime Minister and his or her cabinet. The parliament in New Zealand is a unicameral one. As for the monarchy, it is represented by the Governor General, who is appointed by Queen Elizabeth II of Britain, the present monarch, on the advice of the Prime Minister. On the international front, New Zealand has always been actively involved. It had taken part in both the world wars and has also been part of coalition forces in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.

The population of New Zealand is roughly 4.7 million. More than 70% of the population is of European origin. Maoris form 15% of the total population, whereas the rest of the people are from countries like the Pacific region, India, China, South-East Asia and even Africa. Official languages are English, Maori and NZ Sign Language. English is the most widely spoken language. With a significant rise in immigration from countries far and wide, other languages too are gaining in significance. As far as Hindi is concerned, it is spoken by almost 1.7% of the population. The country's culture is thus an amalgam of European, Maori and many other nationalities.

New Zealand has a very buoyant economy. It is one of the most developed nations in the world. The people here have a good standard of living with almost 100% literacy. The country ranks highly on aspects such as health, education and quality of life. Till the 1980s, New Zealand was more of a protected and regulated economy. But since then, it has transformed itself into a liberalized and free trade economy. The important sectors that contribute towards New Zealand's economy are the services sector followed by industries and agriculture. Tourism too generates a good amount of revenue for the country. The numerous natural wonders in the country, the Southern Alps and the sea beaches are a big draw with most international tourists. The currency of New Zealand is the New Zealand dollar. Currently, it is equal to almost 47 Indian rupees.

Quick Facts

New Zealand is a very beautiful country blessed with a bountiful of nature. Let us learn here a few facts about the country.
  • Located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, New Zealand is mainly composed of two major islands, the North and the South Island. There are around 600 other smaller islands too.
  • The country's capital, Wellington is located in North Island.
  • Population wise Auckland is the biggest city in New Zealand.
  • Distance point of view, the country is located 1500 km or 900 miles east of Australia and 1000 km or 600 miles south of Fiji and the other Pacific islands.
  • New Zealand is the farthest inhabited place from most parts of the world.
  • The country is an amalgam of snowy peaks, rugged mountains, glaciers, volcanoes, lush green forests, lakes, hot water springs and pristine beaches.
  • The Southern Alps in the South Island are famed for their sharp mountain peaks and add charm to the country's topography.
  • Some of the other notable tourist spots are the Tasman glacier, Hawke's Bay and Lake Tekapo.
  • The climate here in New Zealand is predominantly temperate. Most of the snowfalls in New Zealand are in the eastern and southern part of South Island. North Island is more marked with volcanoes.
  • Wool which was traditionally New Zealand's biggest export earner has been overtaken by dairy products, meat and wine.
  • One-third of the international dairy market is under the control of Fonterra, the largest dairy based company in New Zealand
  • Kiwi, a flightless bird, is the national bird of New Zealand. New Zealanders are thus informally and fondly called as Kiwis.

Admission Process in New Zealand

In case you are planning to seek admission to a university in New Zealand, you need to begin the process well in time. You should have at least 8-12 months in hand before your intended departure, to do the necessary groundwork for your student visa and admission. In most universities in New Zealand, the academic session begins in the month of February and ends by November. Most of the major intakes are thus on February and July. Some minor intakes are available during April, September and November. So depending upon the course you select and its intake, you need to prepare accordingly. It helps if you prepare checklists of the various tasks before you even apply for admission. There should also be a checklist for things you need to check before departing. After arrival in New Zealand too, you will have certain tasks to do. Having checklists will ease up the entire process.

For admission to any study program in New Zealand, you compulsorily require a TOEFL or IELTS score. Depending on your course, graduate or postgraduate, you will need a score of at least 6-7.5. For some of the postgraduate programs, you may need a GRE, GMAT or SAT score. To apply for one or more of these standardized tests. In the meantime, you need to research in-depth about the universities in New Zealand and the courses available. You also need to research about aspects like accommodation, cost of living, opportunities for part-time work, health insurance and medical aspects, full-time employment and about the possibilities of gaining permanent residency. It helps if you learn about the culture and lifestyle of the people of New Zealand. Once you are thorough about the various aspects of studying in New Zealand, start the application process for admission to your chosen college. On hearing from the university or college, look for suitable scholarships for your program or apply for an educational loan and pay the requisite fees. Once your enrolment has got finalized, start the application process for a student visa. Meantime, start preparing for the visa interview.

Before leaving for New Zealand you need to take care of certain tasks. You should know what things you are allowed to carry into the country. You will have to arrange for your accommodation and pick up from the airport, once you land there. You will need a health insurance and know the driving rules of New Zealand, in case you are planning to drive there. Even after landing in New Zealand you will have to take care of things like registering with a medical doctor, dentist and so on. You will need a bank account and learn about the public transport system. Other things you will like to learn about are the opportunities to do part-time work and the possibility of obtaining a work visa once you finish your studies.

In the end, it can be said that it is worth taking all the trouble going down under and experience world-class education in a truly world-class university in New Zealand.

Student Visa Application Process

Visa requirements – student visa

Overseas students planning to study in New Zealand for more than 3 months would require a student visa. Following are the criteria necessary to obtain a student visa.
  1. An offer of admission from an educational institute in New Zealand
  2. In case you are under 18 years of age, a written note guaranteeing suitable accommodation to you during your entire duration of the study.
  3. You should be able to provide evidence that you have sufficient funds with you to cover your living expenses and you should be also in a position to buy a return ticket to home.
  4. Should be able to arrange at least 15,000 NZ$ a year, if your course is more than 9 months duration.
  5. Documentary evidence, in case a relative or sponsor is ready to take care of your expenses, while you are studying in New Zealand.
  6. A police certificate is required if you are above 17 years of age and planning to stay for more than 2 years.
  7. Those spending more than 6 months, would require to be screened for tuberculosis.
  8. Those selected through students exchange program will be provided with the visa for the entire duration of the exchange program.
  9. For courses less than 3 months in duration, a plain tourist visa will do.

Visa requirements – work visa

Students who come to New Zealand are not only attracted to its study programs but are also interested to stay back and earn a handsome living. The robust economy and high standard of living lure many to look for jobs in New Zealand. However, you need a visa to stay back and work. A Post Study Work Visa allows you to work for up to four years. It is only after obtaining a post-study work visa that you become eligible to apply for permanent residency in New Zealand.

Post-study work visas are obtained in two steps. In the first step, you obtain a Post Study Work Visa (open) that allows you to work for 12 months under any employer and any job. This visa is granted only once. You may, however, apply again, if you complete a second higher qualification, say bachelors or postgraduate degree.

Within these 12 months, you need to apply for the second stage that is Post Study Work Visa (employer-assisted). To apply for this visa you should have completed your graduation or post-graduation successfully and should have a full-time offer of employment. This visa will allow you to stay for a further period of two years and in some cases, three. Your job offer should, however, be relevant to your qualification. You can apply for this visa more than once, provided you have completed another higher qualification. Obtaining this visa qualifies you for permanent residency under the skilled migrants' category.

Skilled migrant category resident visa

New Zealand is an immigration friendly country, especially for skilled migrants. If you meet the requirements that Newzealand needs it is easy to immigrate to New Zealand under the skilled migrant category.To gain permanent residency, one needs to qualify through the point-based system. Points are allocated based on your age, qualification, work experience and offers of skilled employment. You have to apply through an Expression of Interest (EOI) detailing your qualification and work experience in New Zealand. On successful application, you will gain the opportunity to work and live in New Zealand indefinitely. Under this visa category, you will be eligible to include in the visa application your spouse and dependent children less than 24 years of age. One needs a score of 160 points or above for being selected for this visa. Those under 55 years of age are benefitted through this system. The idea behind the points system is to identify candidates who are most likely to contribute towards the growth of New Zealand's economy.


New Zealand is a developed nation and is greatly influenced by European and western culture. Just like westerners, New Zealanders lead a most modern lifestyle. With almost 100% literacy and very less unemployment, almost everyone here is well established and thus have a very balanced lifestyle. They involve themselves in a good many recreational activities. Outdoor activities are very popular with the people here. New Zealanders travel a lot, both inside the country as well as abroad. They love sports and adventure. Rugby union is the most popular sport in New Zealand, followed by cricket, golf, netball, tennis and football. Water sports, snow sports and other adventure sports have a lot of following. The ruggedness of the country's mountainside, its numerous lakes and long coastline offer plenty of opportunities for a variety of adventure sports. Sir Edmund Hillary, the person in the world to conquer Mount Everest, along with Indian mountaineer Tenzing Norgay, was after all a New Zealander. Art and culture too have a great significance. The people here take great interest in films, music and theatre. New Zealanders splurge on food and wine too.

Cost of Living for Students

Fees and scholarships

Compared to India, studying in New Zealand is a bit on the higher side. Depending upon the stream you select, whether arts, science, engineering or medicine, the fees will range from 20,000 – 75,000 NZ$ per year. Courses on medicine and dentistry are the costliest ones. An undergraduate BA course may cost you up to 25,000 NZ$. Engineering courses may range up to 40,000 NZ$ and an MBA program may cost around 55,000 NZ$. There are many scholarships on offer, for undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD students. The scholarships are offered mostly on the basis of academic and sports achievements. In certain cases, the scholarships are given based on need and hardships. Students also have the opportunity to avail of educational loans. For scholarships to Indian students and other useful details about studying in New Zealand, one may check here the facts in this official government site which advises students on the various aspects of studying in New Zealand. The certificate and diploma courses available in the Private Training Establishments (PTEs) are very cost-effective though.

The living costs are comparatively on the higher side when compared to India. Therefore, during the visa application process itself, it is essential to show ample evidence regarding your ability to cover your living expenses for your stay in New Zealand. On an average, one requires at least 15000 NZ$ to cover living expenses for an entire year. The high costs should not, however, deter you, as you will be getting a quality education and get to maintain a reasonable standard of living. Blessed with nature, most of the universities are located in very serene surroundings. The costs are very reasonable when compared to countries like the UK, the United States or even Australia, its closest neighbour. Moreover, there will be numerous opportunities for part-time and full-time work during your entire period of stay in New Zealand, something not easily available in many other countries. The living costs actually depend a lot on the place you are located in and a good part on your living style too. Some places, you will find accommodation is cheaper, but you may have to spend more on transport. At other places, it could be just the reverse. You save on transport, but accommodation could be dearer. Most of your expenses will be on accommodation, food, transport, electricity charges, leisure, phone and internet.

Studying in New Zealand is not only about expenses. While you study, you are likely to recover a part of your expenses by working part-time. Depending upon your course and its duration, you have the opportunity to work 20 hours per week. You, however, need to be enrolled for a full-time course of at least 2 years duration. Alternatively, on completion, your course should fetch you points for the visa under the skilled migrants' category. There is no restriction on work if you have registered for a PhD or research-based masters program. During scheduled study breaks and vacations such as Christmas and New Year, you have the freedom to work full time. However, you should be undergoing a full-time course of least one-year duration.

Those undergoing English language courses have a lot of relaxation with regard to part-time work. You may work for 20 hours a week even with courses as short as 14 weeks in duration. The main purpose of undertaking the course should be to improve your skills in the English language.

Documents for University Admissions in New Zealand

It is worth noting that a student visa is required in case you intend to study in New Zealand for more than three months. To obtain a student visa and to get admission to a university in New Zealand you will require a host of documents. So listed here, find the documents that you will mostly need.
  • Certificates and mark sheets of class X, XII and graduation, if applicable
  • IELTS, TOEFL or other English language proficiency test results
  • GMAT, GRE or other standardized test scores, if applicable
  • Statement of Purpose (SOP)
  • Birth certificate
  • Passport
  • Resume
  • Recent passport size colour photographs
  • Character certificate from school or employer
  • References from past employers, if applicable
  • Certificates of excellence in extracurricular activities, sports, etc.
  • It is essential to have certified copies of every document
  • It is of help, if other than passport, you have a driving license or other identity cards that can help prove your identity

Besides the documents mentioned above, individual universities may ask for other relevant documents.

Universities in New Zealand

New Zealand has eight excellent universities, all of which, as per QS World Rankings, figure in the top 500 universities in the world. It is really a marvellous feat for a small country like New Zealand which has a total population of only 4.7 million compared to India's 1.3 billion. The universities are listed here as per their ranking and reputation:
  1. University of Auckland
  2. University of Otago
  3. University of Canterbury
  4. Victoria University of Wellington
  5. Massey University
  6. University of Waikato
  7. Lincoln University
  8. Auckland University of Technology

One can have details about the universities here at this page Study at a university in New Zealand which explains the features of each one of them. Each one of the universities is reputed for studies at all levels. They offer bachelors, masters as well as PhD programs. One can opt for a range of courses from science, commerce and arts stream. Some of them offer engineering and medicine courses too. There are business management programs for those looking for skills in management science. Most of the universities have more than one campus and they are located across the country.

Other than the universities there are 18 Institutes of Technology and Polytechnic (ITPs), which offer vocational and professional training on a range of subjects, including English language training. The courses available at the polytechnics mainly focus on the practical aspects of training. The degrees obtained here are as good as the university degrees.

Besides universities and polytechnics, there are around 600 PTEs or Private Training Establishments that offer certificate and diploma level programs on a niche of occupations like travel, tourism, information and communication technology and many more. Knowing very well that knowledge of English is very essential for grant of visas for study as well as work, a large number of students opt for the English language programs. These programs are of varied duration, from one month to a year depending upon the level of competency desired by the student.

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