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Life Planning Information Website - Education Bureau

Education System

New Zealand children start school at the age of 5, and commence secondary education (Year 9) at approximately 13 years of age. Schooling is compulsory from age 6 to 16. Your child can start school on the day they turn 5 years old (they do not have to wait until the start of a new school year). Most children stay at school until they are around 17. At the completion of Year 13 (aged 17/18), students may choose to continue their higher education at a university, institutes of technology and polytechnics or private training establishment.


(a) Primary and Secondary Schools

Most primary and secondary schools are state-owned, but there are 2 other types of schools - state-integrated and private. These are schools with a special character. They may have their own sets of aims and objectives to reflect their own particular values. They may teach a specific philosophy or religion. All different types of schools accept overseas students. Academic requirements for entry to all schools are at the discretion of individual schools.


(b) Polytechnics and Institutes of Technology

There are 16 state-integrated institutes of technology namely Te Pūkenga–New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology (NZIST) which offer a wide range of courses in the professional, technical, and vocational and trade areas. Short courses teach a specific skill or subject. 1 to 3-year Professional Degree, Diploma and Certificate courses are also available in subjects ranging from commerce and accounting to engineering, computing, design, tourism and healthcare. Some institutes of technology offer Master programmes, and one offers doctoral level study. General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) Examination or Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) Examination, plus a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score are required for entry. Most institutions offer English language training or foundation courses to help students meet the required level.


(c) Universities

There are 8 universities in New Zealand offering undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes. All universities offer a broad range of subjects for degrees in arts, science, technology and commerce, and each university has developed its own specialist subjects.

Applicants must meet the entry requirements set by the institutions for entry to a particular course. These requirements vary from course to course and from institution to institution. However, in general, holders of the HKDSE must present at least 3 subjects achieved at Level 4 or higher, including English Language and 2 elective subjects, to be admitted ad eundem statum at entrance level. In addition, a minimum score of 6.0 in IELTS is required for admission at the first-year level. An alternative is TOEFL (iBT) with a minimum score of 79-80. Each university can provide details of its own requirements. Some universities offer a 1-year foundation course as a staircase for degree course.


(d) Private Training Establishments

Private Training Establishments offer a wide range of certificate, diploma and degree courses that are tailored for practical and job skills in specific industries. English language training is often included in these programmes. There is a wide variety of private English Language schools with courses ranging from casual conversation classes to intensive studies leading to internationally recognised qualifications in English.



Entry Requirement (English Language)



TOEFL 480 / IELTS 4.5



TOEFL 500 / IELTS 5.5


3 - 4


Foundation Study

0.5 - 1

TOEFL 500 / IELTS 5.5

*The above chart is solely for reference. Please contact the New Zealand institution you wish to attend for the latest requirement.



(a) Tuition Fees


Annual Tuition Fee (in NZ$)

English Language


Primary & Secondary School


(Private school: $25,000~$39,000)

Certificate & Diploma


Undergraduate / Bachelor Degree


Postgraduate / Master Degree




*This is not an official statement of fees. It is indicative only. This does not include high-value programmes such as health sciences and aviation.


(b) Living Expenses

In addition to tuition fees, a single student will need approximately NZ$15,000 to NZ$18,000 per year for living expenses, including accommodation. Living costs in New Zealand vary among different cities and different types of accommodation. Homestay is one of the most popular choices as it provides an opportunity for international students to experience local living culture. Many institutions also provide on-campus dormitories. Students may contact the accommodation department for assistance.


Application Procedures

There are several ways to apply to study in New Zealand.

(a) Apply directly to New Zealand institutions

(b) Obtain other application methods and information about New Zealand institutions from

When applying for formal studies, students should make their applications 3-6 months before the commencement of school year and are required to provide supporting documentation such as academic records and evidence of English language ability (e.g. TOEFL, IELTS, etc).


Visa Application Procedures

All students who are going to New Zealand for study for more than 3 months must apply for a student visa. As soon as an 'Offer of Place' and payment receipt are received, proceed to New Zealand Visa Application Centre (Units B&E, Floor 6, Lee & Man Commercial Center, 169 Electric Road, North Point, Hong Kong) to get the visa application form and other relevant information (applications should be lodged either in person or by mail).

Website: and

Note that one of the criteria for the visa application is that the institution must be a signatory of the "Code of Practice for Pastoral Care of International Students". For more information, go to the New Zealand Ministry of Education website

General enquiries and visa application for New Zealand should be directed to New Zealand Visa Application Centre in Hong Kong.

Address: Address: Units B&E, Floor 6, Lee & Man Commercial Center, 169 Electric Road, North Point, Hong Kong

Tel. : 3071 1380

Opening hour: Between 08:00 to 15:00 Tuesday and Thursday (Except Public Holidays)




This webpage serves only as a general guide to studying in New Zealand. Further information is available at

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