Klanarong Chitmung / Shutterstock.com
Updated 10 months ago

Auckland is consistently rated as having one of the highest qualities of life in the world and boasts two top-rated universities, bringing it in at number 28 for best places to study in QS Top University’s world ranking system.

Why move to Auckland?

Auckland is New Zealand’s largest and most diverse city, located near the top of the North Island. The city is situated close to the equator, giving it mild weather most of the year that allows for plenty of outdoor activities like biking, hiking, and watersports. It sits between the Pacific Ocean and Tasman Sea, and on top of around 50 dormant volcanoes, with an interesting landscape to explore. It is also a hub of exceptional food, international business, and arts and culture. These factors make Auckland very attractive to both New Zealanders and international expats alike, which is why over a quarter of the country’s entire population lives within these 1,082 square kilometres.

Universities in Auckland

University of Auckland

The University of Auckland began as Auckland University College, part of the now-defunct University of New Zealand, on 23 May 1883. It was housed in a disused courthouse and jail and consisted of four teachers and 95 students. In 1961, the University of New Zealand ceased and Auckland University College became the University of Auckland, now able to award its own degrees. It has since grown exponentially, currently spanning five campuses throughout Auckland and hosting over 40,000 students.

The University of Auckland is New Zealand's largest and highest ranked university. Its QS World University Ranking is 82, making it the only New Zealand university in the top 100, and it is also the recipient of their 5 star rating in the categories of employability, research, teaching, facilities, internationalisation, innovation, and inclusiveness. It falls inside the world top 200, at number 192, of the Times Higher Education World Rankings. It placed number 32 on the Reuters list of Asia-Pacific's Most Innovative Universities thanks to its number of published papers and patents filed and was also recognised as one of five emerging world leaders in entrepreneurship by the MIT Skoltech Initiative.

The university offers more than 120 undergraduate degrees and 130 postgraduate programs within the faculties of Arts, Business, Creative Arts and Industries, Education and Social Work, Engineering, Law, Medical and Health Sciences, and Science. Archaeology is their highest rated program at 16th in the world, followed by Education (20), English language and Literature (29), Psychology (33), and Anatomy & Physiology (34). Other notable programs are Law, Engineering, and Nursing. Undergraduates have the option of doing a conjoint degree or completing two degrees simultaneously. Thanks to a new government scheme, international PhD students pay the same tuition rates as New Zealand students. Of its 40,000 students, 6,000 are international, representing more than 110 different countries.

If you plan to attend the University of Auckland as an undergraduate, you will need the appropriate secondary school qualifications and you must meet their English language requirements. These can vary according to your country of origin and the degree you wish to complete. If you'd like to do a postgraduate programme, you will need to have a completed undergraduate degree with good academic grades, and possibly other supplementary materials depending on your subject and whether you're doing a taught or research-based programme. For more information on specific program entry criteria check the university's Website.

Auckland University of Technology

Auckland University of Technology is a newer, fully accredited school that has three campuses across the city of Auckland and state of the art facilities for its students. The education at AUT uses a modern approach that is very real-world focused, giving students practical skills to take with them upon graduating.

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings system placed AUT at number 15 for International Outlook and in the top 500 overall, and it is number 441 in the world with a five-star rating on QS World University Ratings. QS has also acknowledged the international reach of the school and ranked three of their subjects – Art and Design, Hospitality, and Sports – in the world top 100.

International students can obtain undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in the following subjects: Art and design; business and economics; communications; engineering, computer, and mathematical sciences; creative technologies; education; health sciences; hospitality, tourism, and events; language and culture; law; science; social sciences and public policy; sport and recreation; Te Ara Poutama – Māori development. There are various levels of degrees and different majors of study available within these academic areas.

AUT is very accommodating to aspiring international students – they offer English language and foundation courses for you to take if you do not currently hold the necessary qualifications for entry into a degree programme. Once you successfully complete these classes, you can then begin your chosen course. If English is your first language, or you can meet their English standards, and you already have the correct academic achievements, then you can apply for your preferred field of study straight away. Check the AUT Website for specific application requirements as they may vary.

Fees, scholarship and financial aid

University of Auckland

International student fees vary widely by program. A general undergraduate study abroad semester in 2017 runs NZ$12,750, while full-time degrees range from NZ$27,592 for a non-performance Bachelor of Arts to NZ$72,896 for a Bachelor of Medicine. Most programs fall in the upper NZ$20,000s to lower NZ$30,000 range. You can check on the 2017-2018 fees for your study interest at the University of Auckland Website.

There is also an additional Student Services fee at a rate of NZ$6.38 per point, or NZ$765.60 for a full-time course load of 120 points, in 2017. This is included in the study abroad tuition, however. If you choose to do a conjoint programme, your fees will be slightly higher than the individual programmes, as they require 135 points per year.

Postgraduate fees also differ according to your chosen course of study, and range from NZ$25,050 for a teaching degree to NZ$72,922 for a business master. You can see details for each program here, and all business school information here. Postgraduate programs also require the same Student Services fee.

The University of Auckland has various scholarships available depending on your circumstances. All eligibility and application information for both undergraduate and postgraduate funding can be found on the Scholarships and Awards section of their Website.

Student loan assistance is harder to come by as an international student, however, some nationalities and programs are eligible. It is best to speak to the university directly and see what options you might have. Most financial aid will come from your country of residence rather than the New Zealand government or university.

Auckland University of Technology

AUT has programs ranging from 6-month certificates to doctoral degrees, and all programs cost different amounts. Certificates for the 2017 year start at NZ$13,930 and postgraduate business administration degrees top the range at NZ$51,645. A detailed list of all international programs and their fees can be seen here.

Study abroad tuition is NZ$12,500 per semester, plus additional fees for internship placement. Enrolment fees, insurance, and housing costs may also apply for all courses of study.

There are some scholarships available to international students. All award information can be found on the university’s Website. Speak to the university directly to find out if there are any work-study opportunities or student loan eligibility for overseas students. If you have a child, AUT provides childcare subsidies to both domestic and international students on a first come, first served basis.

Visa, enrolment, and other useful information

Most international students are required to have a valid visa for the entire duration of their studies within New Zealand. Your university will ask to see your visa documents before they enrol you, and if this is not provided you will not be allowed to attend. Most schools will assist you with visa information and applications if you need guidance. All student visa information can be found on the Immigration New Zealand Website. Options will depend on your nationality, age, financing, and length of study.

Universities may differ slightly, but in general, the New Zealand academic year begins in late February/early March and runs until November with a break in July. December and January are summer in New Zealand and serve as either the summer break or summer school term. Most prospective students will have an application deadline the December before their March start date, however, this varies depending on programs and application requirements. You also may want to apply well in advance to ensure enough time to obtain your student visa and plan your travel to a new country.

Student Accommodation

University of Auckland

First-year students at the University of Auckland can apply for a place in the university catered residence halls. These are single rooms, and some twin shares, within large buildings that share bathrooms and kitchens on each floor. A meal plan provides you with prepared meals.

More independent students may prefer the self-catered, apartment-style on-campus living options in the student villages. Here you can have a private single room within a 3-4 bedroom apartment while sharing kitchen, bathroom, and lounge facilities with other students. If you have a family, there are also 2-3 bedroom family apartments available.

Fully catered accommodation runs NZ$361 per week, while self-catered apartment lodging varies depending on room and flat type. Fortnightly rates start at NZ$370 for twin shares and go up to NZ$1,040.00 for family-size 3 bedroom apartments. All university accommodation information, including fee details, can be found at the University of Auckland website.

If you prefer to find your own private accommodation off campus, the university has put together a guide here.

Auckland University of Technology

AUT offers City Campus student accommodation at the Wellesley Student Apartments and North Campus accommodation at Akoranga Student Village. Both consist of multiple single rooms within a residence that share two bathrooms, a lounge/dining common area, and a self-catering kitchen. All bedrooms are furnished with the basics. Both student living areas are within walking distance to their respective campuses, secure, and provide residential life and events programs. Student accommodation is designed for single living, not couples or families, and you must apply for a room.

Fees for a room vary from NZ$10,312.00-NZ$12,490.00 for Wellesley per year, and NZ$10,360.00 for Akoranga per year. There are also some non-refundable fees and optional car parking and linen charges. You can pay in full or by instalments. Optional add-on meal plans are also offered.

You can also live independently away from campus if you prefer. In this case, you will need to find your own apartment, house, homestay, or a backpackers hostel. If you decide to do shared accommodation, that is referred to as flatting in New Zealand. Be sure to consider costs, distance from campus, and lease length when you undertake your housing search.

Work and Internships in Auckland

Most student visas allow you to work up to 20 hours per week during the school terms, and full-time hours during school holidays if you are in a program of 120 points or more. Visas may vary, though, so ensure you know the work allowances and restrictions on your particular student visa. Prospective employers will also double check your visa status during the hiring process. You must work in an employed capacity, however: student workers cannot be self-employed independent contractors. Depending on your qualification, you may be able to convert your student visa to a working visa upon graduation. For detailed rules see the NZ Study Work Website.

If you plan to work, you will need to plan ahead by getting a New Zealand bank account and an IRD number to pay the proper taxes.

Many universities offer internships related to your field of study. These are often arranged with the school and involve additional tuition fees if they are offering credits that count towards your degree.

Student life in Auckland


There is no shortage of activities and entertainment in Auckland. Whether you’re a culture vulture or adrenaline junkie, Auckland has it all. Most New Zealanders love to get out into nature, so hiking the dormant volcanoes and sailing in the sea are two popular past times. You can play just about any sport locally, or attend professional sporting events like rugby and cricket at the city’s stadiums. Many international music groups and theatre tours will give Auckland a spot on their live event lineups as well, and there are plenty of cinemas for all of the latest releases and art galleries to suit many tastes.

Museums such as the Auckland War Memorial Museum and Museum of Transport and Technology are popular with tourists and residents alike, as are other permanent fixtures like the Auckland Zoo, Sea Life Aquarium, and the SkyTower – which allows the very brave to bungee back down once they’ve seen the view at the top! Auckland even has a theme park called Rainbow’s End. The Hobbiton movie set is an easy day trip as well, and a popular one.

It is also very easy to travel outside of Auckland during weekends and school breaks to see what else New Zealand has to offer. The beaches and forests of Northland, the geothermal activity in Rotorua, and the caves of Waitomo are within driving distance. Tongariro National Park is also reachable without too much trouble. Flights to the South Island for the wildlife of Kaikoura and the adventures of Queenstown are frequent and fairly cheap from Auckland.

Eating out

Being as diverse as it is, Auckland features cuisines from all over the world at its many cafes, pubs, and restaurants. New Zealand is also a notable wine producer, and the Auckland region has some great vineyards for local tipple and nibbles.

You can find just about any type of food and drink you want at various price points in the CBD. The Ponsonby neighbourhood has great café culture during the day and hip bars for the evening. The suburb of Parnell hosts the food event La Cigale French Market every weekend. For good, cheap eats on a student budget, check out places like Better Burger, and No. 1 Pancake.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.