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study abroad news

4-Apr-2013 | Canada pins hope on foreign studentsCANADA: The number of college and university students studying internationally has grown more than fourfold since 1975 — and Canada wants a larger share of that market. Read more...


4-Apr-2013 | Chinese alumni 'contribute $100m' AUSTRALIA: CHINESE alumni of Australian universities continue to bolster the local economy years after graduation, with the majority returning at least once and 20 per cent coming back more than five times over a five-year period. Read more...


30-Mar-2013 | Why Asian Kids Succeed NEW ZEALAND: Have you ever wondered why Asians kids are doing so well in maths and science at schools? Read more...

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Qualifications and exams

New Zealand qualifications are recognised and respected around the world. Our education system is based on the British system. You are usually assessed based on your work throughout the year and your performance in end of term exams.


Secondary school qualifications – NCEA

  • The National Certificate of Educational Achievement programme (NCEA) is New Zealand’s main national qualification for secondary students in Years 11 to 13 
  • NCEA replaces the previous qualifications of School Certificate (Year 11), Sixth Form Certificate (Year 12), and Bursary and Higher School Certificate (Year 13)
  • NCEA Level 1 is offered in Year 11, Level 2 in Year 12 and Level 3 (and 4) in Year 13
  • Entrance to degree study at a tertiary education institution is achieved by gaining a minimum of 42 credits at level 3 or higher, and fulfilling specific subject, level, literacy and numeracy requirements
  • International qualifications considered equivalent to NCEA are accepted

For more information about NCEA, visit the New Zealand Qualifications Authority website.


Secondary school exams

NCEA courses are credit-based. Some standards are assessed by external exams while others are based on your work throughout the year.


Tertiary qualifications

New Zealand universities offer courses from certificate to doctorate level. Polytechnics offer courses from certificate level, with some offering full degree and postgraduate studies.  Private training establishments usually offer certificate and diploma qualifications, usually in practical subjects like hospitality and hotel management.

A bachelor degree usually takes 3 to 4 years. After that, you can take post-graduate qualifications such as a Graduate Diploma, Master Degree or Doctorate. A master's degree requires more demanding and intensive study and includes supervised research.

University and polytechnic degree courses have equal merit.

The two main types of assessment are exams and class work. Sometimes your overall mark will be a combination of the two.


Tertiary exams

  • - These usually involve writing essays or short paragraphs or answering multiple-choice questions  
  • - They take place at the end of each semester
  • - You can’t communicate with other people or eat or drink anything except water
  • - Supervisors check everybody's student ID card
  • - For each exam there are different rules about what dictionaries, books and calculators are allowed

Exam support

The student learning centre at your institution will run workshops about exam techniques and dealing with stress.


Class work assessment

  • - This includes essays, assignments, laboratory reports, spot tests, fieldwork, presentations, special projects and practical work
  • - Your active participation in class may also be taken into account

If you're having difficulty with an assignment, discuss it with your tutor or get help from the student learning centre. Seeking help is a normal part of student life.


Course participation

Some university courses involve relatively few hours per week of formal lessons. A high degree of self-motivation and self-discipline is needed as you will be expected to do a lot of reading so you can participate in class discussions.

In all levels you’re expected to have original thoughts and to be able to defend them in debate. This is how we show respect for our teachers - by participating fully in the academic process. In some cultures it isn’t appropriate to challenge teachers, but it's an important part of the New Zealand education system.





Note: The above information taken from is current at the time it was sourced in October 2010. While all attempts will be made to ensure this information is up to date no guarantee can be given that the information will be current at the time it is viewed. Please visit in order to confirm the information is current or contact us to receive information and assistance relating to study abroad in New Zealand.