Distance Learning
Distance learning offers a wide range of full and part-time study and training to people all over the country who can’t or don’t want to attend a provider in person. Some distance learning programmes have a residential component that requires students to attend classes face to face on campus for a short period each year - such as a two-week block course. Sending and receiving material by post is one of the main forms of communication.
Full-time study and training
Full-time study and training means the majority of your time is spent attending a tertiary provider. This may be the fastest way to finish your qualification.
Part-time study and training
Many qualifications and courses can be studied part-time. One advantage of part-time study and training is that it allows you to continue with other family, work or sporting commitments. Usually your qualification is completed over a longer time frame than if you studied full time.
Summer school
Summer school courses are usually offered over the summer months and provide a number of opportunities. They can be:
  • Courses to provide you with background or preparation for further study
  • Short courses that help you become familiar with the demands of tertiary study, such as assignment expectations, reading workloads and other things such as time management.
  • Courses that allow students to retake a course and re-sit the exam if they did not pass at the first attempt.
Some students also take courses over the summer months to shorten the length of time taken to complete a qualification.
Workplace study and training
Workplace training means you can study and train while continuing to work. You can be trained on the job or trained off-site by a registered training provider such as a polytechnic or private training establishment.
Colleges of Education
Colleges and schools of education offer programmes in early childhood, primary, secondary, special teacher education or postgraduate training. Teaching practice is a compulsory part of teacher education, so trainees spend a lot of time in schools putting theory into practice. Teaching diplomas and degrees typically take three or four years, or if you already have a degree you can do a one-year graduate diploma.
Polytechnics or Institutes of Technology
Polytechnics or Institutes of Technology offer both academic and job-focused courses that range from pre-certificate training through to diploma and degree levels. Many polytechnic courses are job-specific and some workplaces require completion of a polytechnic course for advancement in the job.
Private Training Establishments (PTEs)
Private Training Establishments offer courses ranging from pre-certificate level, through to diploma and degree. Some Tertiary Education Commission programmes, such as Training Opportunities and Youth Training, are run through PTEs and prepare students for their first job.
University courses have an academic focus. Universities offer degrees, diplomas, certificates and postgraduate programmes of study. The most common university programme is the degree. A bachelors degree usually takes at least three years to complete. Degrees can be general, such as a Bachelor of Arts or Science, or focused on a specific vocation, such as a Bachelor of Veterinary Science. A general degree will give you a wide range of skills in research, information gathering and problem solving. Degrees in specific subjects provide these skills and may also lead to work in a specific job or industry.
Wānanga deliver educational programmes and opportunities to all New Zealanders within a supportive Maori kaupapa. A strong tikanga Maori environment is provided. Wānanga offer degree, diploma and certificate courses.
Workplace training
Workplace training offers learning for people in the workplace. Staff can be trained on the job while they work towards a diploma or certificate. Assessment can be through a registered assessor or off-site with a registered tertiary provider such as a polytechnic, institute of technology or private training establishment. Because the training is work-based, staff study a certificate or diploma relevant to their job. Modern apprenticeships are work-based education initiatives for 16 to 21 year olds. They allow you to learn a new skill and gain a qualification while working in your chosen career.
Adult and Community Education (ACE)
Adult and community education classes are usually held in the weekend or as night classes. These can be wide ranging in subject, from professional and technical courses through to interest courses. Often your local high school or polytechnic runs this type of education either for free or at a reasonable charge.
Bridging programmes/Foundation courses
Bridging courses are for people who haven’t achieved the required entry-level qualifications, or who are over 20 and unsure of their ability to cope with study and training. Bridging courses are commonly held in maths, English and science subjects to get students up to speed for entry to a degree-entry qualification. Many providers also offer foundation courses so that prospective students can learn essay writing, study and time management skills or get a feel for a subject area.
A certificate usually requires one year of full-time study and training. Nationally recognised certificates usually have the same course content and structure at all tertiary providers.
A diploma normally requires two years of full-time study. It can follow on from a certificate or degree, or stand alone as a qualification.
A bachelors degree, which is may also be called an ‘undergraduate’ degree, usually requires at least three years full-time study. Bachelors degrees are theory-based and involve moving progressively from more basic study to more advanced levels in one or more subject areas. A bachelors degree can lead to postgraduate study - and one or more years of more advanced study for an honours or masters degree.
If you don’t have the grades to go straight into a degree or diploma course you may be able to staircase your way through study and training. For example, you may want to be an engineer but don’t have a university entrance qualification, so you complete a NZ Certificate in Engineering, move to a diploma course and then a degree. Many people use staircasing to make a fresh start to gain qualifications.