New Zealand’s education system is world-leading, as recognised by the OECD’s (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) Programme for International Student Assessment rankings. The programme, commonly referred to as PISA, is one of the few global measures for success in education.

A growing number of domestic and international students are gaining qualifications in New Zealand and successfully enrolling in tertiary institutions around the world.

In 2009/10, approximately 275 candidates received offers with Australian universities (2009/2010 ACTAC figures).

NZQA has equivalency arrangements with many countries, including:


NCEA level 3 is recognised as broadly equivalent to Senior Secondary Certificates of Education.

NCEA level 3 results are used in the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank for entrance to all Australian universities.

When an application is received from a New Zealand school leaver, the Australian Tertiary Admission centres contact NZQA directly. Results are sent from early January each year.


NCEA level 3 is recognised as broadly equivalent to General Certificate of Education (GCE) A-level.

NCEA is listed in the International Qualifications for Entry to Higher Education published annually by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). This reference guide is used by UK tertiary providers to evaluate school leaving qualifications. It is also used by other countries as an authoritative guide.


Ministers of education and cultural affairs of the German states have recommended that German universities accept NCEA results.

German entry requirements are similar to New Zealand’s but require results in at least five subjects.


National Academic Recognition Information Centres (NARIC) network recognises that University Entrance and NCEA level 3 (with merits/excellences in subjects to be studied at higher education institutions) is comparable to those with the overall GCE advanced standard.


Students completing high school qualifications outside Thailand need a Matthayom 6 equivalence certificate, issued by Thailand’s Bureau of Educational Testing (BET).

NZQA and BET have agreed on equivalence criteria for NCEA (largely based on NCEA level 2).


The Association of Indian Universities recognises NCEA level 3 as equivalent to its university entrance requirement.

New Zealand’s international connections have been reinforced in recent years.

In 2008 NZQA joined the network established by UNESCO and the Council of Europe to improve the international recognition of qualifications.

NZQA is now New Zealand’s National Education Information Centre, providing information and advice on the

New Zealand education system, secondary and tertiary qualifications, and recognition of overseas qualifications.

These agreements demonstrate that NCEA results are well understood and accepted overseas.

Seeking admission to overseas institutions

New Zealand students wanting to study internationally are encouraged to discuss their tertiary education plans with their schools. Schools will then help plan the most appropriate study required for the student’s career path.

On request, NZQA provides a range of academic indicators to overseas admission centres.

NZQA is part of the National Academic Recognition Information Centres (NARIC) network. NARIC is consulted by tertiary providers and deals with academic recognition of diplomas and periods of study in the member states of the European Union, the European Economic Area, and central and eastern Europe.

Domestic and international students gaining qualifications in New Zealand successfully enrol in tertiary institutions around the world.

“If you look good here, you can look good in the United States, but you need to be able to make your case.You need to understand that merit and excellence results are not A and B grades in American terms – in effect they are both A grades. You need to be able to show how high you come in national rankings and there are ways to do that. NZQA can help and of course Scholarship results are brilliant for this purpose – you can easily prove you are in the top few per cent in New Zealand.”

– Professor Jeff Smith, University of Otago, formerly associate dean of Graduate School of Education, Rutgers University, New Jersey, USA


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