New Zealand Universities

In choosing a university course for further study there are a number of things to take into consideration. Firstly ‘do I have’ or ‘what grades will I need’ to gain entry into the course I want to study.

Secondly identifying any general issues that may be important regarding future study.  Some of the things that you may want to consider are location of the university, availability of course or places, size of classes/university, world/NZ rankings, support services offered, accommodation options, scholarship availability, methods of teaching and assessment, links to future employment through internships, opportunity for overseas exchanges, post-graduate study options.

Thirdly actually making a decision about the specific course of study you would like to pursue. The options available to you are wide and varied and may have little relationship to the subjects that you have studied at school. It is important you do your research before enroling for a specific degree. Spend sometime working out what interests you, what you are good at and what sort of work you want to pursue once you have finished your study.

There are eight universities in New Zealand each with their own unique identity, culture and degree programmes.  Some courses are only offered at a specific university, for example Veterinary Science at Massey University (Palmerston North) where as other subjects can be studied at any one eg Business/Commerce.  Each university has its own rules and regulations regarding degree structure, topics that need to be studied for certain degrees, and grades required to progress for further study. They can also offer very different topics of study and opportunities for practical papers or work experience under the same degree name.

Degrees tend to be divided into two categories, those that are the required pathway to a profession for example, medicine, architecture, law or those that provide opportunity for further education and a potential pathway into employment in an area of interest. Science, Arts, Social Science, and Business related degrees would fall into this category. For students not sure of exactly where they would like to end up working doing a flexible degree gives more options.

Several of the professional degrees at some of the universities have a general first year study programme with entry into the subject at second year dependent on the grades achieved in first year study. Along with academic entry requirements degrees in the areas of art, music and drama mostly require the submission of a portfolio of work, audition or interview.

University Entry Requirements

The basic university entrance requirements under Cambridge for New Zealand Universities are: 

(These are the minimum requirements and some courses and Universities require higher levels for entry)

Part A 
A minimum of 120 points on the UCAS tariff (UCAS) at A or AS level from subjects other than the General Paper, including at least three subjects (other than Thinking skills) in which no grade is lower than D.

Part B 
Literacy and numeracy must be satisfied as follows:


Either    An E grade or better in any one of AS English Language, Language and Literature
             in English, Literature in English. A D grade or better will satisfy one of the subject  
             requirements of Part A.      
    Or      As prescribed for university entrance with NCEA.


Either  1)  A D grade or better in IGCSE or GCSE mathematics, or
           2)  Any mathematics passed at AS level.  A D grade or better will satisfy one of the
                subject requirements of Part A.
 Or           As prescribed for university entrance with NCEA.


How your rank score is calculated

  • You will be allocated a rank score according to your UCAS Tariff score total accumulated over a maximum of six subject units, in subjects at AS, A2 or A Level from subjects that match those of NCEA. 
  • The rank score will be calculated from your UCAS Tariff points by awarding the following points for each approved subject (to a maximum of six subject units). The maximum rank score is 420. 
    Level A* 
     A140 points 120 points 100 points 80 points 60 points 40 points 
     AS 60 points 50 points 40 points 30 points 20 points 
  • An A level counts as two subject units. Where a student has studied more than six subject units, the best six scores will be used. A CIE rank score may differ from the UCAS Tariff used for University Entrance because only subjects equivalent to approved NCEA subjects are used for ranking.   
Example of how a rank score for CIE is calculated 
Subject Level Subject Units Grade Tariff points Rank Score 
Chemistry  100 100 
Mathematics  100 100 
Physics  AS 50 50 
English  AS 40 40 
Biology  AS 30 nil* 
Rank Score  290

For entry to some degrees at The University of Auckland you are required to have subjects from specific groupings of topics referred to as Table A and Table B.  

Table A Table B 
Classical Studies Accounting 
English Biology 
Geography Business Studies 
History Chemistry 
History of Art Economics 


New Zealand Universities are increasingly setting what they refer to as Guaranteed Entry Scores for some or all of the courses that are offered at the University.  What this means is that if you gain over that specified UCAS entry point level for the course or degree you will be automatically granted a place on that course.  If you have achieved entry to University but not reached the nominated point level of the course you are interested in your application will receive consideration on an individual basis and you may still be offered a place or an alternative course of study.

University Contacts

There are eight universities in New Zealand. They offer a range of core degrees in the area's of Science, Business and the Arts/Humanities/Social Sciences but each one also has some unique degrees and features. You need to research what is exactly offered in each University and what are your subject options for the degree you are interested in studying. Many degrees are also offered through Polytechnics, for example Radiology, Nursing, Drama, Design.  

untitled.png        AUT.png        optago.jpg

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All New Zealand Universities have accommodation attached or linked to them in some way.  As a first year student, living in university accommodation is a good way to get to meet people, make new friends, have study support and work out who you might like to go flatting with in your second year.

Universities offer a range of accommodation options from the more traditional catered hostel with your own room, shared bathrooms and common areas and a dining area for meals to flatting situations where you feed yourself.  Most accommodation has some sort of supervision or support available to students from full-time wardens to senior students who act as Residential Assistants.  In the older Universities some of the Halls of Residence have long standing traditions associated with them that are as significant as the degree you are studying.

All come with different price tags and you need to work out what is the most suitable situation for you.

To ensure a place in a University facility you need to make sure you are part of the accommodation application round which needs to be submitted by the 1st of October. The application requires you to provide information about yourself, achievements, interests and activities and the School also needs to submit a Confidential Reference to support your application.  As the school reference takes time to write you need to be organised by the 15th of September

You generally get to nominate a number of options for accommodation and the universities do give much consideration to the composition of hostel residents trying to match areas of study, interests, social activities etc.

This application needs to be done before you have to apply for university enrolment and can carry more weight than your university application.  For some universities if you receive an offer of accommodation then you will be offered a place in the degree course you wish to study.  Likewise missing out on accommodation may affect your enrolment for study.

Accommodation applications are available on all the University web sites and are required to be completed online. 


75 Bush Road, Albany, Auckland, New Zealand
09 414 0960

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