New Zealand’s education system was founded on, and continues to reflect, a widely held belief that an egalitarian society requires equal access to a high quality tax payer funded education system. That ethos has seen then an overwhelming focus on public or state education from per-school, through Primary, Secondary and to a great extent, Tertiary (University and Polytechs).
Early Childhood Education
Many children attend some form of early childhood education before they begin school.
- Playcentre (birth to school age)
- Kindergarten (ages 3-5)
- Kohanga Reo (Maori language immersion schools)
- Licensed Early Childhood Centres (ages 0-5) - Usually privately owned
- Chartered Early Childhood Centres (ages 0-5) - State funded
Compulsory (primary and secondary)
Free Primary and Secondary education tuition is a right for all New Zealand children from age 5 until the end of the calendar year following the student's 19th birthday, and is compulsory for students between the ages of 6 and 16 (15 with parental and school permission). Disabled students with special educational needs can stay until the end of the calendar year they turn 21.
While state funded tuition is free, students must still pay for course materials and related costs. Also, almost all schools charge a tax deductible "donation" that most parents pay. This tends to be in the order of $90- $100 per year at Primary level.
Private or independent schools charge tuition fees while state integrated schools, which are often church funded, may charge an additional levy for the school buildings. Generally the ‘Church based schools charge in the order of $3000 per year. Private schools are more generally around the $15,000 mark.
International students with valid student visas can also be enrolled in state funded schools provided they pay the appropriate international student tuition fees. A number of schools use international student fees to supplement their state funding. The exception to this charging model is when one of the parents of the child holds a work visa or certain categories of student visas at which point the student t pays ‘local’ rates.
Most students start when they turn 5, and remain in school for the full 13 years.
While there is overlap in some schools, primary school ends at Year 8 and secondary school at Year 13. The last two years of primary school are frequently taken at a separate intermediate school instead of at a primary school, leaving 'contributing' primary schools to end at Year 6. Some areas though have 'full' primary schools which go to year 8.
There are three types of school: state, private (or registered or independent) and state integrated schools. State and state integrated schools are government funded. Private schools receive about 25% of their funding from the government, and rely on tuition fees for the rest. State integrated schools are former private schools which are now "integrated" into the state system under the Private Schools Conditional Integration Act 1975 "on a basis which will preserve and safeguard the special character of the education provided by them". According to Independent Schools New Zealand, an advocacy group for private schools, about 86% of all school-aged children attend state schools, 10% attend state integrated schools and 4% attend private schools.
In addition, parents may home school their own children if they can prove that their child will be "...taught at least as regularly and as well as in a registered school...", and are given an annual grant to help with costs, including services from The Correspondence School. The percentage of children home schooled is well under 2%.
There are 13 academic year levels, numbered 1 through to 13. Students turning five enter at Year 1 if they begin school at the beginning of the school year or before the cut-off date (31 March in legislation, later for most schools).
Students who turn five late in the year might stay in Year 1 for the next school year depending on their academic progress. The Ministry of Education draws a distinction between academic and funding year levels, the latter being based on when a student first starts school – students first starting school after July, so do not appear on the July roll returns, so are classified as being in Funding Year 0 that year, so they are recorded as being in Year 1 on the next year's roll returns.
Students in Years 7 and 8 may attend an Intermediate School which provides a transition from primary schooling to secondary schooling. The last year of primary schooling is Year 8, and students must vacate Year 8 by the end of the school year after their 14th birthday (although most students are 12–13 when they transition to secondary school).
The first year of secondary education is Year 9. The Ministry of Education requires that a student's funding year and academic year are aligned in years 7, 8, and 9, irrespective of when they first started school. Students who do not achieve sufficient credits in NCEA may or may not repeat Year 11, 12 or 13, while attempting to attain credits not achieved in NCEA – repeating a year often depends on what credit have been attained and what NCEA levels the majority of study is at. Year 13 is seen as the traditional end of secondary school, with an extra funding year
Under the old system of Forms, Standards and Juniors, there were two Junior years followed by four Standard years in primary school, followed by seven Forms. Forms 1 and 2 were in intermediate school and the remaining five were in secondary school.
For state schools, the Education Amendment Act 2000 puts in place a new "system for determining enrolment of students in circumstances where a school has reached its roll capacity and needs to avoid overcrowding." Schools which operate enrolment schemes have a geographically defined "home zone".
Residence in this zone, or in the school's boarding house, if it has one, gives right of entry to the School. Students who live outside the school's home zone can be admitted, if there are places available, in the following order of priority: special programmes; siblings of currently enrolled students; siblings of past students; children of board employees and staff; children of former pupils; all other students. If there are more applications than available places then selection must be through a randomly-drawn ballot. The system is complicated by some state schools having boarding facilities for students living beyond the school's zone. Typically these students live in isolated farming regions in New Zealand, or their parents may live or work partly overseas. Many secondary schools offer limited scholarships to their boarding establishment to attract talented students, such as rugby players from Fiji, in imitation of private school practice.
Critics have suggested that the system is fundamentally unfair as it restricts the choice for parents to choose schools and schools to choose their students although it does allow all students living in the community to have entry, as of right, regardless of their academic or social profile. In addition, there is evidence that property values surrounding some more desirable schools become inflated, thus restricting the ability of lower socio-economic groups to purchase a house in the zone, though this is off set by the fact that students are accepted from rental accommodation or from homes where they are boarding with a bona fide relative or friend living in the zone.
There are several branches of tertiary education in New Zealand.
Typically, a bachelor's degree will take three years, and a further year of study will lead to an Honours degree. Not every degree follows this 3+1 pattern: there are some four year degrees (which may or may not be awarded with Honours), and some specialist bachelor's degrees which take longer to complete. Typically, Honours may be awarded with first class, upper second class, lower second class or third class, but this can vary from degree to degree. A bachelor's degree may be followed by a Master's degree. A candidate who does not hold an Honours degree may be awarded a Master's degree with honours: such a degree usually involves two years study, compared to one year for a Master's degree for a candidate who does have an Honours degree. A candidate who has either a Master's degree or a bachelor's degree with Honours may proceed to a doctoral degree.
Entry to most universities is "open", that is to say that one only needs to meet the minimum requirements in the school-leaving examinations (be it NCEA, Cambridge, International Baccalaureate or Bursary). A greater number of courses at New Zealand universities now have selective admissions, with the University of Auckland offering a large number of selective-entry courses. Mature students usually do not need to meet the academic criteria demanded of students who enter directly from secondary school.
Domestic students will pay fees subsidised by the Government to the tune of around 75%, and the student-paid portion of the fee can be loaned from the Government under the Government's Student Loan Scheme (interest free while studying and only needs to be paid back when a minimum income is met).
Weekly stipends can be drawn from the loan for living expenses, or the student can apply for a needs based (on assessment of parental income) "Student Allowance", which does not need to be paid back.
New Zealand ranks very highly in terms of educational outcomes when compared to most countries. In fact many migrant s move to New Zealand specifically because of the quality of education available to their students.
Funding for tertiary education in New Zealand is through a combination of government subsidies and student fees. The government funds approved courses by a tuition grant based on the number of enrolled students in each course and the amount of study time each course requires. Courses are rated on an equivalent full-time Student (EFTS) basis. Students enrolled in courses can access Student Loans and Student Allowances to assist with fees and living costs. Student Loan and Allowance entitlements are normally subject to having held Residence in New Zealand for a period of two years or more.
Fees vary from University to University, and depending on the course. The 2011 fees guide compiled by Universities NZ gives you a range of prices for various course, both as a domestic and international student - University Fees (143.2 KB) . Some universities charges are averaged for all students regardless of the course being taken but other universities charge, depending on the course. Most bachelors degrees should be completed in three or four years.
When Iain was at university in the late 1980s the Government paid all his fees and gave him the princely sum of $33 per week on top of that! It still meant that he had to work to be able to get through university and he has little sympathy for those students of today who bemoan that they cannot afford to live in a flat and who have to work in order to get their degrees. Many whine about the fact that they have to remain living with their parents. So it seems the education system continues to play a dynamic role in shaping contemporary New Zealand society.
It is left to individual tertiary institutions to decide how they will charge their students, whether they charge all students the same regardless of the course they are doing, or whether they are charged different amounts for different courses.