Frequently Asked Questions


New Zealand is one of the top 20 OECD countries which provides top quality education to students from all over the world. The National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) qualification in high school is widely recognized by most universities around the globe. After students have completed their high school with a good NCEA result, they are able to apply for most universities in the world including the USA, Canada, and Europe.

There are eight universities in New Zealand, and all eight of them are ranked among the top 500 universities in the world (QS World University Rankings 2020). Of the eight, two of them are listed in the top 200.

Yes, in most situations, the school will refund fees to an applicant if his/her student visa application has been rejected. However, you will have to be prepared to forfeit the application fees. You can minimize such risks by appointing a professional education consultant as they are able to guide you through the entire application process until you embark on your new school life. During the student visa application, the education consultant is also able to assist you on formulating a high credibility study abroad plan which will increase the likelihood of procuring your education in New Zealand.

All State schools in New Zealand are grouped according to their regions and students from each region will be assigned to enrol at the corresponding local school. The purpose of this is to ensure that all children are able to attend a school near their home. State-Integrated schools, on the other hand, have less restrictions pertaining to the residential location of their students, while private schools have no restrictions on school zones and they accept students from all over the country.

State school is the most popular option among parents in New Zealand as they are free for citizens and Permanent Residents (PR). They are fully controlled and funded by the government and their syllabus follow the national curriculum.

As State Schools are funded by the local government in New Zealand, slots are reserved and priority goes to the local students. State schools also follow the school zone policy which means that local students will be assigned to enter the state school near their homes. International students who wish to apply to a state school in New Zealand will have to take note of the limited space as compared to a private school. 

State-Integrated schools are considered a semi-public school in New Zealand and most of them are Catholic-founded. They are partially funded by the government and their education usually consists of special characters including specific religion or philosophy. As they are not fully funded by the New Zealand government, parents would need to pay compulsory fees called “attendance dues” to the school administrative.  As state-integrated schools emphasise on religious teachings, they may prioritise families with similar beliefs.

Private schools are not funded by the government and they do not follow the national curriculum. Both local and international students are required to pay the full school fees. Private schools have fewer restrictions on accepting students especially because they do not follow the school zone policy and they tend to have a smaller student-teacher ratio than public schools.

An international student has the option to choose either a public or private school according to their own needs, preference and academic abilities. It depends on the type of curriculum you would want for your child, the environment, and the school fees. Private schools are significantly more expensive than public schools, though you are able to choose a different curriculum apart from the national syllabus.

We recommend that you consult our education professionals to guide you in choosing a suitable school and programme for your child catered to your unique needs.

It is a qualification awarded to students after they have completed Year 13 of their study. The NCEA consists of three levels: levels 1, 2 and 3, that corresponds to Year 11-13. After the students have received their NCEA qualification, they can proceed to pursue to Bachelor’s degree in a university or head out to the workforce. The NCEA qualification is recognized by all universities in New Zealand as well as most universities in countries such as the USA, Canada, and Europe.

Both state and private schools offer the English language programme (ESOL programme) to international students who need to brush up on the language.

Before an international student start their classes, the school will arrange an English assessment test to assess the student’s English proficiency level. Thereafter, the school will provide him/her a suitable level of English lessons (if necessary), along with the regular classes. 

However, if a student requires more English classes and is unable to cope with the regular timetable, he/she would need to attend an English language programme before commencing regular classes. These lessons will take around 2 - 6 months to complete depending on a student’s pace. Once the student has shown proficient English language ability and has been verified by school teachers, he/she can then begin regular curriculum.  

Yes. The most recent school report will be required as one of the documents to submit when you apply for primary and secondary schools. Different schools such as private schools have their own standard of accessing students’ academic report especially when they come from a different educational background.

It is recommended that you seek a professional educational consultant on such preparations as they would be able to advise you on the necessary documents along with a proper timeline to ease the application process. This ensures that your study abroad journey will be smooth and efficient.

We recommend that you start preparing at least 8 - 12 months in advance for the school admission process. Public schools will prioritise space for New Zealand domestic students and will only open for international students if there are spaces available. As private primary and secondary schools are assured of outstanding education quality, they will receive a high volume of student applications every year especially in main cities like Auckland and Wellington. Therefore, students and parents are encouraged to start preparing the application process as early as possible to secure their place in the school.  

Most schools have four rounds of admission terms throughout the year (January, April, July, October). If you plan to enrol into a school in January, you are advised to start preparing the school admission process in March or April of the previous year so that you have ample time to apply for your student visa after being accepted by the school as the visa processing time will take a while. You can also start to discuss your study plans and school preferences with your Study Trust education consultant. The consultant will be able to recommend the most suitable schools according to your needs. The consultant will also provide immediate assistance on the whole application process from applying to a school until you receive your student visa and depart to New Zealand to start your study journey. 

Parents who plan to accompany their child during the study period in New Zealand could apply for the “Guardian of a Student Visitor Visa” in order to live and take care of their child. Only one parent or legal guardian is allowed to apply for the guardian visa. If there are more than one parent or guardian who wish to accompany the child, he or she will need their own visa.

Students are mandated to have a parent or legal guardian to accompany them during the course of their studies in New Zealand if:


Student is under 10 year of age and do not plan to live in the school hostel 


Student is aged between 10 - 17 without any residential caregiver (homestay care, a licensed hostel manager in a licensed hostel responsible for taking care of the international students, a designated caregiver, or a supervisor in the case of temporary accommodation). 

The validity of the guardian visa will follow that of the student’s visa, and will allow a person to travel in and out of New Zealand multiple times until the visa expires. However, parents or guardians who are holding the guardian visa are not allowed to work full time in New Zealand and are required to live with and take care of the child. 

The usual processing time for the visa is up to 55 days. Longer processing time may be required if additional documents or information are requested by the authority. The visa application costs around NZD $246.

Most public and private schools offer 4 terms of admission throughout the year (January, April, July, October). Students can submit their admission application for any of the terms. As some international students may come from non-native English-speaking countries and may require additional English language lessons, the schools will arrange for the student to enrol as soon as a vacancy is available. Do search on individual schools for their application window or speak to our Study Trust consultant for more detailed information.

Proof of financial funds simply means that an international applicant has to show proof that they are financially capable to cover his or her tuition fees and living costs during their stay in New Zealand. As this proof of financial funds is needed for the student visa application, students should also show that they have enough funds to pay the tuition fees for the first year (if the study is more than one year). If the school requires the student to pay the tuition fees in advance, the school will issue a formal letter of acceptance and payment receipt of tuition fees to the student. These documents can also be used as evidence of funds.

The New Zealand immigration department also requires applicants to show that they have at least NZD $15,000 for the first year of study in order to support their living expenses in the country. This proof document can come in the form of money received from a government loan, scholarship from an institution, or a fixed-term deposit for at least 6 months. The source of funds should be clearly identified in the proof in order to be accepted.

The cost of studying in New Zealand is considerably competitive compared to most English- speaking countries. For international students who plan to go to a public primary school, the average annual tuition fee will start from NZD $11,000 while the average annual fee for public secondary school starts from around NZD $13,000.

Tuition fees for private schools in New Zealand are generally higher compared to a state school with an average of NZD $25,000 annually at the primary and secondary level.  

It is vital that international students update themselves with the latest information and policies of studying in New Zealand such as the school entry requirements to post-study work visa process. These information and policies set by the New Zealand government are updated regularly and one should always check so as to ensure a smooth application process. Our guidelines here comply with the latest information on the education in New Zealand so as to help make your study abroad dreams come true efficiently and effectively. Read more at our education blog here.

Learn more about the different types of schools in New Zealand

Types of schools in New Zealand

Learn more about how to apply to schools in New Zealand

How to apply to New Zealand schools