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    How to Apply to Study in New Zealand for International Students

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    Bhavya Rawal

    Study Abroad Expert

    For international applicants planning to study in New Zealand, one of the foremost steps is to apply for admissions with colleges/universities in New Zealand. Before you start applying for any of these universities, start with researching the one’s offering the course and specialization you are interested in.

    Factors affecting the choice of university in New Zealand by the students:

    • Level of education
    • High school performance
    • People around the students (family and friends)
    • Cost of education and location
    • Campus visit recruitment

    Apart from choosing tertiary institutions for pursuing higher education in New Zealand, you can also study at English language schools offering languages courses for both international and domestic students.

    The student intake or admission cycle of New Zealand is between February and September. However, this duration can vary from university to university. As the country fought-back with COVID-19 and is popularly among the few of the countries making it to this list, New Zealand has seen a considerable surge in the number of international students choosing to study there.

    Currently over 100,000 international students are pursuing their education from New Zealand. Maximum enrolment of the students to study in New Zealand is from China (50%), India (21%) and Australia (29%). Around 30,000 Indian students are currently pursuing education with New Zealand universities.

    Timeline for Application Process in New Zealand

    Month Details
    Before September Research and shortlist institutes
    September Start applying for universities as the deadlines start from October end
    October Application response starts from the applied universities (within 4 to 6 weeks), Apply for student visa
    December Application Deadlines. If applicable, attempt the English Language Proficiency test such as TOEFL, IELTS and more
    January Let the university know about the landing to get assistance
    February Complete all the formalities and begin the course

    Note: IELTS and TOEFL are the most common exams for English language proficiency tests. However, you can also choose to take PTE, Duolingo English Tests as an alternative.

    How to Apply to Study in New Zealand?

    Mentioned are the steps to apply in New Zealand and become applicable for university, polytechnic, vocational training institutions and institute of technology to study in New Zealand.

    • Select the university and program
    • Find out the entry requirements
    • Know about the fee structure
    • Be ready with the documents
    • Submit the online application form
    • Pay the application fee

    Application Process to Study in New Zealand

    The basic application process for international students planning to study in New Zealand majorly consists of ensuring you fulfill the eligibility requirements and collecting the documents to be submitted with the university. With completion of these two major components you can submit your applications and wait for receiving an offer.

    Admission Requirements to Study in New Zealand

    As international applicants the certain additional admission requirements to fulfill are:

    • English language proficiency
    • Previous education qualifications
    • Student visa to study in New Zealand

    Let us discuss these requirements in details:

    English Language Proficiency Requirements

    For studying abroad, international applicants coming from non-native English speaking countries are required to show proof of their language proficiency. Students often take ELP standardized tests like TOEFL, IELTS, PTE, etc to present scores to the universities.

    Mentioned are the threshold scores for different tests.

    Test Minimum score required
    Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet-based Test (TOEFL iBT) Overall score of 79 or more
    Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic) Overall score of 58 or more
    Cambridge English B2 First (FCE) or B2 First for Schools (FCE for Schools) Overall score of 176 or more
    Occupational English Test (OET) Grade B or higher in all four skills (Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking)
    International English Language Testing System (IELTS) 6.5 (with 6.0 in each band)

    OET Occupational English Test – for the healthcare sector. Assesses communication skills, who wants English speaking environment.

    OET is available for 12 professions: dentistry, dietetics, medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, optometry, pharmacy, physiotherapy, podiatry, radiography, speech pathology, and veterinary science.

    Given below are the details of minimum score requirements for different levels of education in New Zealand:

    IELTS bands for different Programs

    Program Band Score
    Diploma Overall 5.5 no band less than 5.0
    Bachelor’s Overall 6.0
    Graduate Diploma Overall 6.0
    Master’s Overall 6.5

    Study in New Zealand without IELTS

    You can study in New Zealand without IELTS scores or other English language test scores

    Conditions under which the IELTS could be exempted: -

    • Students must have studied in English – medium school from Grade 8 to 12.
    • IELTS exempt students are interviewed by New Zealand immigration.
    • Compulsory education from Grade 1 to 5 or at least 3 years during higher secondary education.
    • Pursue English language course at English language schools in New Zealand or with the university you plan on studying in.

    Documents required for admission without IELTS: -

    • Marksheets of the school indicating medium of instruction is English.
    • Marksheets of Grade 8 to 12 specifying medium of instruction is English if not during entire schooling.
    • A Bonafide certificate validating that the student has done schooling and attempted all the exams as per the mentioned information.

    Academic Admission Requirements

    Based on the course and level of education you choose to attain from New Zealand, you will be required to fulfill certain basic requirements with your scores and previous education qualifications. The details of the same are given below:

    Based on Level of Education

    For Undergraduates

    • Elementary and secondary school education proofs
    • Mathematics for some sciences is necessary
    • English language proficiency test score

    Note: Most universities demand 75% aggregate and 60% in English language

    For Graduates

    Based on Degree or Diploma Courses

    Common requirements

    • Minimum age required – 18 years
    • English language proficiency test
    • Interview

    Degree Courses: Completion of University Entrance qualification

    Diploma Courses: National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) level 2 or adult entry if 20 years or older

    Documents Required to Study in New Zealand

    1. Proof of identity
    2. Statement of Intent – Why New Zealand?
    3. Letter of Recommendation (LOR) from Professors / Managers
    4. Statement of Purpose (SOP)
    5. Transcripts from secondary school or university courses in case the students attend one.
    6. Relevant Test scores such as GRE,IELTS, GMAT, or TOEFL.
    7. If the students who have earned 30 credits and are getting transferred to New Zealand, no need to submit secondary school details.
    8. Application Fee (16 USD to 32 USD)
    9. Valid Passport
    10. Offer letter of the university
    11. Medical insurance is mandatory

    Financial Documents Required to Study in New Zealand

    • Proof for sufficient funds
      1. Tuition fee (self/sponsor)
      2. Living expenses
      3. Scholarship proof (if applicable)
      4. Students need to show that they have 9,862 USD to support for a year
      5. Air tickets to return to the home country
    • Fee receipt


    This is the last step of admission where the university authorities conduct a formal interview with the student through facilities such as Skype. Not many universities will ask you to sit for an interview as a part of the admissions process, however, those asking for it give a lot of weightage to your interview performance.

    Student Visa to Study in New Zealand

    Though you can only obtain a student visa to study in New Zealand after getting offer from one of the universities in New Zealand, here the documents you should be ready with when making applications for the student visa:

    • Acceptance letter from the degree offering university.
    • English language proficiency test scores.
    • Proof of financial support to fund at least one-year of education in New Zealand.
    • Passport
    • Evidence that you can afford a return ticket to the home country.
    • Medical certificate
    • Results of TB-negative reports

    Now that you have all the information of the documents you will be needing to apply with New Zealand universities, let us dive into by what dates you must send-in your applications.

    Application Deadlines to Study in New Zealand

    Application deadlines for some of the top universities in New Zealand (2020-21) are detailed below:

    University Level of Study Deadline
    University of Otago UG October 31, 2020
    PG December 2020
    Massey University (for offshore students December 1, 2020) UG October 31, 2020
    PG October 31, 2020
    University of Canterbury UG October 31, 2020
    PG October 31, 2020
    Lincoln University UG April 1
    November 15
    PG Apply Six months prior to course start date
    Victoria University of Wellington UG January 15
    PG October to November (based on course)
    University of Waikato UG October 2, 2020
    PG (course based) March 2, July 1, November 1
    The University of Auckland UG December 1, 2020
    PG (may vary for courses) December 1, 2020
    Auckland University of Technology UG March 1, 2021
    PG (may vary for courses) March 1, 2021

    Note: Applicants must note the deadlines have changed for the upcoming sessions because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Reasons for Rejection of Admission Applications to New Zealand

    There are few conditions under which the admission applications could be rejected: -

    • Applications do not offer the quality required
    • Behavioral problems such as discipline issue or suspensions
    • Erroneous or incomplete applications
    • Unfulfilled requirements from the aspirant
    • High level of competition for limited seats

    They key to a successful study abroad experience is planning ahead of time and considering details of all the aspects involved. Preparing checklists at each stage of the application and ensuring you leave no ground untouched will not only make the process quicker but also easier for you.


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