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Delivering quality teaching and learning

New Zealand universities are committed to delivering high-quality teaching and learning that benefits individuals and New Zealand as a whole. Our universities have evolved over time in response to student, employer, industry, society and government needs, changing programme offerings, and opportunities offered by new forms of technology.

Underpinned by strong internal and external systems and processes, the universities are collectively responsible for quality assurance across the university sector. The statutory responsibility for quality assurance rests with the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors' Committee, which gives effect to its responsibilities through the Committee on University Academic Programmes (CUAP) and the Academic Quality Agency for New Zealand Universities (AQA). This long-standing arrangement is unique internationally and one of the key reasons why New Zealand universities are so highly ranked. Via CUAP, all eight jointly peer review proposals to create new qualifications. 

Key facts

  • Our universities enrolled 156,900 domestic students in 2021, including 19,600 Māori students (13% of domestic students) and 14,500 Pacific students (9% of domestic students).1
  • 26,000 international students (14% of all university students). (Pre-Covid, the proportion of international students was similar to that of countries such Australia and the United Kingdom.) 1
  • All New Zealand universities were placed in the QS World University Rankings 2023's top 600. Three universities were in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2022's top 350 (with all eight in the top 600). 2
  • 92% of international university students choose to study in New Zealand because of the strong reputation of our universities.3
  • Universities employ around 23,106 full-time equivalent staff. 4
  • Universities won eight out of nine National Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards in 2021 – while employing around half all academic staff.56
  • All universities offer pathway programmes to help students meet university entry standards.7
  • A 2020 international review confirmed that New Zealand universities’ external quality assurance audit process “meets the highest standards of independence and integrity”. 8

Want to know more?

[1] Education Counts, Tertiary Statistics, Tertiary Participation, provider-based enrolments, Ministry of Education, 2021 data (updated June 2022).

[2] QS World University Rankings 2023 and Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2022.

[3] International Barometer Survey 2017: University sector summary report. Available from Education New Zealand's IntelliLab.

[4] Summary of 2021 annual audited accounts of universities, Universities New Zealand – Te Pōkai Tara. 

[5] 2021 Aotearoa Tertiary Educator Awards, Ako Aotearoa National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence.

[6] Education Counts, Tertiary Resourcing, Ministry of Education, 2021 data (updated April 2022).

[7] University websites and calendars.

[8] AQA External Review Report 2020.