Polytech and University


Universities and Polytechnics (of Technical Institutes) both provide high quality education in New Zealand. As with all levels of education in New Zealand the Ministry of Education regulates the tertiary sector meaning students will receive a high quality education regardless on where they study.


New Zealand is home to eight universities of the highest quality. All are ranked in the top 3% (500) universities in the world. New Zealand’s universities are also highly ranked by subject. They are ranked within the top 50 universities in the world in 22 different subjects, and in the top 100 in 39 (out of a possible 46) subjects. New Zealand graduates enjoy some of the best graduate outcomes in the world – with high completion and employment rates, and low rates of under-employment.


There are 16 institutes of technology and polytechnics located across New Zealand. Institutes of Technology generally focus on providing a hands-on, practical education, offering vocational certificates and diplomas in both general and specialised areas of study.

Many of these polytechnics or institutes of technology also offer undergraduate degrees, in fields such as business, computer science, IT, science as well as in a range of speciality areas which are not available at a university. Some even offer select postgraduate programmes, often through a partnership with a local university.

Polytechnic classes are often smaller and more personal which suits some students. The courses offered usually come with a much bigger hands-on and practical component that university courses. If you ‘learn by doing’ rather than by theory alone, a polytechnic course could be just right for you.

These practical courses and learning styles work for employers too, making graduates much more ‘work-ready’ than many university grads as they often come along with some practical work experience and specific skills the industry is wanting.


    • Certificates can be offered by universities or polytechnics to boost you into or prepare you for higher-level study (eg Bachelor’s Degree), or they can be an essential entry step for specific occupations.
    • National Certificates are related to industry training courses and recognise skills or achievement; offered by polytechnics, Industry Training Organisations and PTEs
    • Can be from NZQF Level 1 through to Level 6 and can be 6 months or a year of full-time study.
    • Generally require between one and two years of study, and this can be done at both universities and at polytechnics as well as through some approved training providers.
    • Diplomas can be a great pathway to get into a job or occupation. They are increasingly being designed with help from employers to focus on specific areas or sets of tasks, so you graduate with the skills employers are looking for.
    • Can in some cases be converted into a Bachelors degree with one or two further years of study.
    • Diplomas can often be required qualifications for some advanced trade and technical occupations (eg National Diplomas in Construction Management and Surveying, or the range of Diplomas in IT and ICT.
    • This is the undergraduate degree you start when it’s your first time at university, and many polytechnics also offer approved Bachelor’s Degree study.
    • Bachelor Degrees can be three, four or five years in length, depending on the degree programme you choose and whether or not you enroll for a conjoint degree.
    • Students normally 'major' in the one or two subjects that they study over three or more years in papers taught at first, second and third-year levels.
    • A Bachelor's Degree usually requires a minimum of 360 credits from NZQF Levels 5 to 7, and generally a minimum of 72 of these credits need to be at Level 7.
    • You can choose to study two degrees at the same time, cross-crediting some papers, to give yourself a conjoint degree. Popular examples are a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Laws (BA/LLB) or Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Teaching (BA/BTchg). Some really interesting combinations are available these days, making it easier to follow your passions with study.
    • Conjoint degrees usually take at least four years to complete.
    • An extra 1 year of study done following a successful Bachelor’s Degree.
    • This can also be the first year towards your Masters degree.
    • If you want to do an extra year of study in a slightly different subject after completing your Bachelor’s Degree, a Postgraduate Diploma is the best option.
    • It is a one-year qualification which can also count towards your Masters qualification.
    • A Master’s Degree is normally two years of study in a specific field following getting a Bachelor’s Degree.
    • Can often be achieved in one year if you already have a Bachelor’s Degree with Honours or an appropriate Postgraduate Diploma.
    • A PhD is a major research qualification that takes three to five years to finish.
    • It is studied once students or researchers have finished their Master’s Degree and looks at a topic in real depth.
    • Graduates who have a PhD will have Dr. in front of their name referring to the academic achievement, not the medical kind. You will deserve it after perhaps 9 or 10 years of study!

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