The basics
New Zealand: Student Finances

3 Scholarships in New Zealand to start you off...

Our overview of three key scholarships for international students in New Zealand

Dunedin students

One look at New Zealand’s striking green hills and lively student culture is enough to explain why education is one of the nation’s top five exports. But whilst it’s popular, tuition fees and living costs for international students are notoriously steep, and can make it difficult for international students to realise their study abroad dreams. Not to worry: there are plenty of scholarship and funding options available for international students in New Zealand to get you get on your way. Let our overview of three key scholarships get your planning process started.

Funding Bodies


There are a limited number of scholarships available from the New Zealand government, and often you will need to apply for them through your host university. Scholarships are typically offered based on either your home country or specific study area, and sometimes have specific admission requirements regarding your character traits, areas of interest or long-term career plans. The New Zealand Ministry of Education website has a scholarship search engine you can use to search for funding that provides details of selection criteria, scholarship value and application advice.

Host University

Most scholarship options in New Zealand are offered through a specific university, and are always retrievable in full via their website. You can also search for an institution directly through our site, and find out the scholarship and funding options they offer from there.

Your host university should be your first stop in searching for funding, as their scholarships are tailored specifically to their own study programmes and student needs. Remember: thousands of international students come to study in New Zealand every year, and so your host will be well prepared to cater to the needs of international students.

External Funding

Awards from external companies and funding bodies are often harder to come across, but do exist in some cases. Any scholarship or funding programme from a company or organisation will always be listed on their website, and will typically be available to students within a specific area of study that relates to the work they do. There is a list of links to funding sources, including New Zealand universities and the government on the CareersNZ website, or your could search for organisations based on your study area and independently follow on from there. 

If you aren’t able to secure funding from your host university and are stuck finding funds elsewhere, you can pay to use a scholarship database service called BreakOut, which provides guidance and advice in tracking down and securing funding options. 

You can also search for a scholarship directly through the scholarships page on our site. 



University of Canterbury International First Year Scholarship

High-achieving international students about to commence the first year of a Bachelors degree programme at the University of Canterbury may apply for this award. To be eligible, you will have need to applied for your study programme at UC by September 1 of the year prior to the programme’s actual commencement date. Application dates are subject to change yearly, but for example, in 2014 the deadline is September 1st.

When you apply for the scholarship, you should either be attending a pre-university institution, completing high school or completing a Foundation programme within New Zealand. To apply, you will need to download and complete an application form, and then submit it directly to UC. Applications forms are made available approximately 8 weeks before the application deadline.

This award is tenable for up to one year only, and may be NZ$10,000 (US$8,704), NZ$15,000 (US$13,056) or NZ$20,000 (US$17,408) in value. Up to 25 of these awards are granted per year.

Selection is competitive, with students needing to display a high level of academic achievement, strong evidence of leadership skills, involvement in co-curricular sporting, community or cultural activities, and degrees of international knowledge. For example, this may be shown through evidence of travel or involvement in activities outside of your home country.

Learn more about the Canterbury International First Year Scholarship

Click here for a complete list of scholarships offered by the University of Canterbury

New Zealand-AESEAN Scholar Awards

Funded by the New Zealand government, this award is an international development initiative open to Postgraduate students from Southeast Asia who intend to use the knowledge gleaned from study to promote development in their home country. Students from Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam are encouraged to apply.

Eligible study areas vary from country to country, and can be pursued by clicking on the name of your country on this page. For example, Malaysian students studying Agriculture Development, Disaster Risk Management or Private Sector Management are eligible, whilst students from Singapore must be studying topics related to regional integration and sustainable development. Deadline dates, participating universities and specific application procedures also differ depending on your home country.

All students however must hold a Bachelor degree in a field related to the Postgraduate programme they will undertake in New Zealand, a minimum IELTS result of 6.5 overall (with no score lower than 6 across any band) and meet the specific entrance requirements of their host institution.

Scholarships may be one-four years in length, and will cover your complete tuition costs, travel costs, medical insurance and academic support, as well as an allowance for living and start-up costs. Exact amounts awarded will depend on your circumstances.

Unless specified otherwise, you will need to begin lodging your application directly to your host when you apply for your study programme. You should follow the outlined application process for international students, mentioning in your statement of purpose that you intend to apply for the scholarship. Once you are accepted into your study programme, you need to download and complete the New Zealand scholarships application form and send it (along with the supporting documents it asks for), to the office specific to your home country. You can find this address by clicking on the name of your home country from this page.

Click here for a list of countries eligible for the New Zealand-AESEAN Scholar Awards

New Zealand Development Scholarships (NZDS)

Open to Postgraduate Diploma, Masters and Doctorate students from a selected list of developing countries, this award seeks to help students gain the knowledge and skills to aid development within their home country. Students must outline a specific sector they wish to develop within their home country, and indicate how they intend to use the skills gained from study in New Zealand to do so. After completing your study programme, you will need to return to your home country and remain there for at least two years to work towards puting this plan into practice.

Specific application procedures, deadlines, participating universities and eligibility requirements differ depending on your home country. You can access this information by clicking on the name of your home country from this page. All students however must NOT be seeking funding for a study programme they are already in the process of compelting,  and must NOT already hold a qualification at the same study level as the programme they are applying to. For example, students from Africa studying a Master of Energy at the University of Auckland may not already hold another Masters degree, irrespective of its study area. All students will need to have an IELTS score of at least 6.5 overall, with no lower than 6 in any band.

Again, you will need to apply directly through your host institution. You will need to download and complete a New Zealand Scholarships application form and include it in your university application. If your host university accepts you, they will forward your scholarship application onto the New Zealand government. If you are shortlisted, you will be required to complete an interview. You will usually find out whether you have been successful in October-November in the year prior to the commencement of your study programme.

If you have already been accepted into a New Zealand institution but are yet to start your study programme, you can apply by sending the form, along with a letter of admission from your host to the national office in your home country.

Click here for a list of countries eligible for a New Zealand Development Scholarship

Click here to find the New Zealand national office in your home country


Now that you’re on your way to funding your studies, why not browse courses in New Zealand now and start planning your study abroad adventure?

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About Author

Dunedin students

Monica Karpinski received her BA (Media and Communications) and Diploma in Modern Languages (French) from the University of Melbourne, Australia. An art and culture aficionado, in her spare time Monica enjoys film, reading and writing about art.