Education in
New Zealand

Aotearoa New Zealand’s education system is ranked as one of the best in the world. Government regulations ensure anywhere you choose to study will be a high-quality experience.

Compulsory schooling

Education begins at age five, and primary schooling lasts for eight years. The last two years (years seven and eight) are often at intermediate school. Secondary education lasts for five years until year 13.

The school year runs from the beginning of February until mid-December. It is divided into four terms. Each term lasts around ten weeks, with a two-week break between each term.

There is a national compulsory curriculum for years one to 10. The curriculum has eight learning areas: English, Mathematics, Social Studies, Physical Education and Health, The Arts, Technology and Māori language.

The curriculum has eight learning areas: English, Mathematics, Social Studies, Physical Education and Health, The Arts, Technology and Māori language.

In years 11 to 13, students can specialise in a broad range of subjects depending on what they want to do after high school. For example, Hospitality, Technology, Outdoor Pursuits, Music, Dance and Performing Arts (note, subjects may vary depending on which schools students attend).

Students then have the option to continue on to tertiary study.

NCEA examinations

The qualification system in Aotearoa New Zealand, is the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA). Three levels are offered in the senior years of secondary schooling: Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3.

The requirements to achieve each level are a mix of tests during the school year and examinations at the end of the school year. There are specific requirements to gain University Entrance (to allow students to attend university) in English and Mathematics.

Planning for tertiary education

Planning your journey towards tertiary education starts many years before your tertiary classes begin. To the right is a simple timeframe guide to assist you with your planning process.

education new zealand tertiary journey

Caring for international students

We know being away from home can be a big step for many of our international students, so all schools provide a supportive and safe environment to help students make the most of their study abroad experience.

The Code of Practice for Pastoral Care of International Students sets the standard of advice and care that must be given to international students while they’re in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Our education providers take pride in delivering excellent student support and care.

education new zealand international student support

Need financial support?

You may be able to apply for scholarships to help you on your tertiary education pathway. Visit our scholarships page for more information.