The cost of studying at a university in New Zealand

This guide outlines the cost of fees, accommodation, lifestyle and financial assistance options if you are planning to study in New Zealand

January 20 2018
The cost of studying at a university in New Zealand

How much does it cost to study in New Zealand? If you are interested in studying in New Zealand, one of the most important things to consider is how much everything is going to cost. This essential guide breaks down the cost of every aspect of university life to ensure that you have everything covered. 

Note that prices and exchange rates are correct at the time of publication and may vary from those shown here. 

Tuition fees

There are eight main universities in New Zealand and they all set their own tuition fees, which will vary depending on subject and level of study. However the New Zealand government has confirmed plans to abolish tuition fees from 2018 for one year of study, increasing to three years of study from 2024. 

Most international students are expected to pay more than domestic students, although international students can be exempt from paying foreign student fees in some cases – for example when students are enrolled in PhD programmes.

On average, an international student can expect to pay NZ$20,000 (£10,499) (all figures from now are in New Zealand dollars) for an arts and social sciences undergraduate degree, $25,000 (£13,124) for science and engineering and $75,000 (£39,372) for a dentistry and medicine degree.

For example, at the University of Auckland, a typical international undergraduate student pays $27,592 (£14,485) for most BA courses and up to $72,896 (£38,267) for medicine degrees beyond the first year. Postgraduate degrees at the University of Auckland are between $32,392 (£17,004) and $46,787 (£24,561) per year.

Therefore an international student studying at the University of Auckland would spend $82,776 (£43,454) for a three-year bachelor’s degree.

For a domestic student, an undergraduate degree comes in at between $10,000 and $25,000 per year (£5,249-13,124), with postgraduate degrees between $10,000 and $30,000 (£5,249-15,748).

The full list of tuition fees and a comparison of costings are available on the Te Pōkai Tara site, which represents all universities in New Zealand. As well as tuition fees, some universities will also charge administration and student services fees; for example the University of Otago charges students $798 (£419). 

Whether studying at undergraduate or postgraduate level, students will be expected to prove that they have sufficient funds to support themselves, which is $1,250 (£656) per month for any study period less than nine months, and $15,000 (£7,874) per year if the stint is longer. This amount is surplus to the amount needed to cover your course fees and return airfare.

Accommodation costs 

There are several possible options for renting during a period of study in New Zealand. You could stay in student residence halls ($200 or £105 per week, on average), a shared flat ($120/£63 per week) or a private flat ($180/£94 per week).

The 2017 estimate for renting a room in a three-person apartment is $202 (£106) per week in Auckland, $127 (£67) in Hamilton, $170 (£89) in Wellington, $132 (£69) in Christchurch and $147 (£77) in Dunedin. Therefore to live in Auckland (the most expensive of the university cities), students should budget to spend $8,080 (£4,241) on rent per year (based on a 40-week contract) which would amount to $24,240 (£12,725) across the entire three-year bachelor’s degree.

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Other essential student costs

The average monthly phone bill in New Zealand is $20 (£10) and an internet plan is $85 (£44) per month, split between the tenants of the flat, as well as $100 (£52) per month (per person) on utilities such as gas, electricity and water. Students should expect to spend $500 (£262) on books and other academic supplies per year.

A one-way ticket on public transport costs an average $3.50 (£1.84), with a monthly pass at $152 (£80), although for students it’s more like $120 (£63). One example is Auckland’s HOP Card. With student discounts, students should expect to spend up to $35 (£18) a week on transport, depending on which modes they choose to use.

The healthcare system in New Zealand is commendable – you will pay between $25 and $60 (£13-31) to see a doctor, and hospital costs are paid for by the state, while prescriptions are $5. You must be covered by medical and travel insurance policies while you’re studying in New Zealand, from the point at which you enrol until your visa expires. Health insurance is affordable even for international students – for example, 12 months of health and travel insurance cover with StudentSafe (a popular choice with students) costs $590 (£310).


The average student’s weekly shop in New Zealand costs $80 (£42) and a meal out in an average restaurant is $18 (£9.45). A beer in a bar is $8 (£4.20) and a glass of wine is $7 (£3.67).

A cinema ticket will cost $16 (£8.40) and a monthly gym membership costs an average $55.80 (£30). In 2017, a Big Mac was priced at $6.10 (£3.20). In Auckland, New Zealand’s largest urban area, a mid-range dinner for two, a bottle of wine, two cinema tickets and a five-mile taxi ride home costs $152 (£80).

What financial support is available 

Unfortunately, there are few scholarships available for international students studying in New Zealand.

Scholarships are offered by the New Zealand government. There is a useful search tool on the Education New Zealand website, with which you can search for a scholarship depending on your subject and study level.

However, full-time students are allowed to work up to 20 hours a week but it is important to check the terms of your visa, and the visa authorities may need to be contacted should you choose to work. The adult minimum wage in New Zealand is $13 (£6.30 per hour).

A popular choice for obtaining student discounts is the $20 (£10.50) StudentCard, which offers more deals than any other card. There are discounts on clothes, travel, food, drinks and entertainment. Air New Zealand also offers a student discount on air fares. 

Read more in this series

The cost of studying at a university in the United States
The cost of studying at a university in the UK
The cost of studying at a university in Germany
The cost of studying at a university in Canada
The cost of studying at a university in France
The cost of studying at a university in Australia
The cost of studying at a university in the Netherlands
The cost of studying at a university in China



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