Geography is usually a big factor in choosing where to study. Aucklanders could study at The University of Auckland, AUT, or Massey University, for example. But there are also ITPs such as Unitec and Manukau Institute of Technology – not to mention dozens of private training establishments. Depending on the course you want, there are institutions such as Computer Power Plus, Servilles Academy, Media Design School, AMES IT Academy… the list goes on and on, and that’s just in Auckland alone!

Qualifications can sometimes be similar across unis, ITPs, and private providers, but they each have a different emphasis. Take the time to do your research. The institutions’ websites always have course information – be careful to note any special advantages they offer, such as links to industry.

Be sure to shop around when you’re deciding on your further learning institution. Don’t associate a university degree with being most likely to get you the job you want because the workforce continually changes, and a polytech or private training establishment may be the tertiary education provider that has evolved fastest in your chosen sector.

Institutes of technology and polytechnics (ITPs)

Polytechnics pride themselves on being based on the practical pursuit of learning and their courses are focused on getting you a job.

The range of subjects at ITPs is wide and varied – you can study anything from nursing to interior design. Polytechnics offer qualifications to suit students of all ages, backgrounds, and experience. Each institution has a range of degrees, diplomas, and certificates you can study, all in specific fields. Like most tertiary education providers, ITPs have areas of speciality. For example, Whitireia excels in the arts and communication
(e.g. creative writing, publishing, and journalism), whereas Otago Polytechnic and Unitec have strong veterinary nursing programmes.

New Zealand ITPs

  • ARA institute of technology
  • Bay of Plenty Polytechnic
  • Eastern Institute of Technology
  • Manukau Institute of Technology
  • Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology
  • Northland Polytech (NorthTec)
  • Open Polytechnic of New Zealand
  • Otago Polytechnic
  • Southern Institute of Technology
  • Tai Poutini Polytechnic
  • Unitec New Zealand
  • Universal College of Learning
  • Waiariki Institute of Technology
  • Waikato Institute of Technology (Wintec)
  • Wellington Institute of Technology (WelTec)
  • Western Institute of Technology Taranaki
  • Whitireia Community Polytechnic


Western civilisation is founded on the notion that knowledge and the desire to understand, and explain this understanding to others, is a fundamental human need. This is the purpose universities fulfil. The respect accorded to universities, embodied in the principal of academic freedom, is crucial to the ability of a society to mature and grow.

Universities offer the highest and most challenging level of education. You go to university to get a degree (and after that, an honours degree, postgraduate diploma, master’s degree, or doctorate). You study hard and learn how to rationalise, argue, test, research, and think laterally.

There are eight universities in New Zealand. The University of Auckland has the highest international rankings, followed by the University of Otago, University of Canterbury, and Victoria University of Wellington. However, all New Zealand unis have good international reputations (all eight ranked in the top 500 in the 2013 QS World University Rankings).

As with ITPs, universities have learning areas where they are internationally renowned. For example, Lincoln University has a focus on agriculture and farming, Victoria University excels in law and the humanities, and the University of Waikato has a great business school. Some research will help you to decide the best university for you.

Universities in New Zealand

  • The University of Auckland
  • AUT University
  • The University of Waikato
  • Victoria University of Wellington
  • The University of Canterbury
  • The University of Otago
  • Massey University
  • Lincoln University

Industry training organisations (ITOs)

Industry training organisations (ITOs) develop training programmes and qualifications for industries and the government. Following recent mergers, there are currently 14 ITOs in
New Zealand, and they cover all industries. ITOs provide information about industry skill demand, define national skill standards and qualifications required by industry, and broker training to meet the needs of employees in industry (working with private industry-specific training providers to do so).

If you want an apprenticeship in the trades, the ITOs are the place to go. They organise on-the-job training, off-the-job learning, ongoing assessment, and provide up-to-date information to employees and employers.

The current ITOs are:

  • Building and Construction ITO
  • Careerforce
  • Competenz
  • EmQual
  • Funeral Service Training Trust of
    New Zealand
  • Infrastructure ITO
  • NZ Hairdressing ITO
  • NZ Marine ITO
  • NZ Motor ITO
  • Pharmacy ITO
  • Primary ITO
  • ServiceIQ
  • Skills Active Aotearoa
  • The Skills Organisation
  • Universal College of Learning

Quality qualifications

The cost of industry training is subsidised and you will be guided through the whole process – but you need to know a few things.

Industry training usually means you have no need for a student loan. However, you may have to pay for course-related costs for NZQA registration, training materials, and the support from the ITO. The best way to find out about your fees is to talk to your employer, modern apprenticeship coordinator, or an ITO.

The qualification you get at the end of the apprenticeship depends on your industry. It will usually be a national certificate at Levels 3 and 4.

New Zealand Qualifications Authority qualifications are recognised throughout
New Zealand and can even be transported overseas. There are also special trade and business qualifications administered by the NZQA.


Wānanga are New Zealand tertiary education institutions that focus on practical learning, as well as embracing a teaching and learning philosophy that is built around Māori culture and knowledge. In traditional times, the word wānanga conveyed meanings related to highly evolved knowledge, lore, and occult arts reached through “discussion” to arrive at deeper understanding. In wānanga classes, students learn from each other just as much as the teacher.

At wānanga, you learn how to learn. They also offer:

  • bridging certificates
  • diplomas
  • bachelor’s degrees
  • postgraduate qualifications such as master’s degrees and PhDs.

Many of these programmes can be studied part-time during weekdays, in the evening, at the weekend, or from home. Programmes are delivered in a uniquely Māori environment and are based on a teaching that provides an inclusive, interactive, and nurturing learning experience.

There are three wānanga in Aotearoa, each has campuses throughout the country:

  • Te Wānanga o Aotearoa
  • Te Wānanga o Raukawa
  • Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi

Private Training Establishments (PTEs)

For-profit doesn’t necessarily mean a compromise in training quality. Private training establishments take a niche and specialise in it, which can often lead to industry-specific programmes that lead to better employment prospects after you graduate. Great examples include Servilles Academy, which is a leading provider of training for hairdressers and hospitality workers; Computer Power Plus, which specialises in IT training, and CTC Aviation, which trains pilots.

PTEs generally provide education at the certificate and diploma level and though the sting in the tail can be high course fees, your employability is high.

There are hundreds of training providers across the country. Online research may uncover the PTE that is right for you.


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