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The Top New Zealand Universities for International Students

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New Zealand Universities to Consider Studying at

It’s a no-brainer: studying in a modern English-speaking country is bound to boost your CV/resume, but where exactly should you study in New Zealand? With extremely high satisfaction rates with living experiences in New Zealand universities (87% in 2013/14), picking a New Zealand university is a tough choice. Nevertheless, we have put together a quick profile of some of the top New Zealand universities for international students to help you make the decision.

Studying in New Zealand on one of the student visas allows you to work while you study making student life more affordable. Find out more in Which Visa Do You Need to Study in New Zealand?

If you need more help deciding, consider looking at the 5 Best Universities in New Zealand also.

A Quick Guide on How to Apply for a New Zealand University

Want to enrol to a New Zealand university? Here’s a quick overview of the application process. They are rough guidelines as some universities differ. If you are enrolled in a university at home, then you might go through an exchange program which would be a different process.

  • Choose your university and programme (course) that you want to study
  • Check the fees and requirements for that programme and university. It is likely that you will need to show evidence that you meet the English language requirements. (If you don’t just Study English in New Zealand before you start your programme).
  • Collect relevant documents that you may need to provide for the application. These may include a copy of your passport, academic transcripts and English language test results. Documents may need to be in English or translated into English.
  • Submit your application
  • Receive an offer of enrollment
  • Pay fees
  • Apply for a student visa. Find out more in Which Visa Do You Need to Study in New Zealand?

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University of Otago

Although the University of Otago is where you will really get to mingle with the Kiwi locals in one of New Zealand’s most popular student cities, the university also welcomes internationals with exchange partnerships established with more than 90 universities around the world. Set in Dunedin, the University is New Zealand’s first and oldest university.

A number of scholarships, as well as study abroad and student exchanges, help make the study experience more affordable while contributing credits to your undergraduate degree. Plus, thanks to their UniFlats, the residential campus life is unmatched even in Australasia.

There’s a wealth of support through the university’s international office which can guide you through your university experience. You can also take the opportunity to join the Otago International Friendship Network or make use of the international student advisors.

Things to Do in Dunedin

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University of Auckland

The highest-rated New Zealand university in the Times Higher Education Working University Rankings, the University of Auckland is one of the most popular universities in New Zealand for international students.

The University of Auckland is an internationally-minded school reflecting the international flare that Auckland city has. Auckland has the largest intentional airport in New Zealand, as well as the largest diversity of cultures within the city.

Scholarships, loans and other funding are on offer for international students wishing to study at the University of Auckland. Additionally, student exchanges and study abroad experiences are highly popular at the University of Auckland with encouragement to try some New Zealand-specific courses like Maori Studies, Pacific Studies, Wine Science and Environmental Science while you are studying your chosen undergraduate subject.

There’s a lot of opportunity for support along the way with several orientations for international students and exchange students and an international student information centre.

Things to Do in Auckland

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University of Canterbury

The University of Canterbury prides itself on experiential learning study abroad and student exchanges to get students into the field to get transferable skills. There are more than 60 international institutions in partnership with the University of Canterbury. There are limited opportunities for scholarships compared to other universities in New Zealand, however, they do offer a unique Global Rugby Abroad programme.

Support is a huge strength of the University of Canterbury with a unique Student Care Team and the opportunity to get your own UC Mentor. Even if you have passed your English language qualifications to enrol with the University of Canterbury, you can still get support on improving your English with English workshops and consultations. Student orientations will also get you prepared for life at UC and Christchurch.

Things to Do in Christchurch and Canterbury

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Massey University

With three university campuses across the country, you are spoiled for choice with Massey University. Study in either Albany (Auckland, Wellington or Palmerston North with thousands of other international students and Kiwis alike. 29% of Massey University’s students are international students. The university is highly ranked in international university ranking such as being in the top 1.2% of universities in the world in the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS).

The university has agreements with more than 200 institutions around the world and offers a great range of study abroad and student exchange experiences. Massey University looks after international students with orientations and lots of advice and support before and during your study abroad experience.

Things to Do in Albany, Palmerston North and Wellington

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Lincoln University

Although it’s not the highest-ranked university in New Zealand, Lincoln University still holds its own in the world university rankings such as being 319 in the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings. The university is based in the South Island city of Christchurch.

For international students, Lincoln University offers awards a number of scholarships in recognition of academic ability or achievement, especially for US and European students. These often pay for the tuition of studying at Lincoln University but may also include living costs. Additionally, Lincoln is a partner member of the Euroleague for Life Sciences (ELLS) and the Global Challenges University Alliance, which is beneficial for if your university is also a member of these partnerships. There are 15 additional universities that Lincoln has partnerships with for student exchanges.

Lincoln offers a great deal of support before and during your time in New Zealand with orientations and helps getting set up with your life in New Zealand.

More Things to Do in Christchurch and Canterbury


The information in this guide has been compiled from our extensive research, travel and experiences across New Zealand and the South Pacific, accumulated over more than a decade of numerous visits to each destination. Additional sources for this guide include the following:

Our editorial standards: At NZ Pocket Guide, we uphold strict editorial standards to ensure accurate and quality content.

About The Author

Robin C.

This article has been reviewed and approved by Robin, who is the co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. With more than 15 years of experience in the New Zealand tourism industry, Robin has co-founded three influential tourism businesses and five additional travel guides for South Pacific nations. He is an expert in New Zealand travel and has tested over 600 activities and 300+ accommodations across the country.

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