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Video transcript available for School Leavers' Myth number 4 Open Close
Lively, upbeat music plays throughout.

On camera: We see the narrator standing in a second-hand store surrounded by kitchen equipment. The colours are not very vibrant. The Narrator speaks in a funny voice and is looking away from the camera.

Narrator: A University degree is the only way to get a job.

On camera: The camera shakes, the colour becomes more vibrant, the narrator looks at the camera and returns to their own voice. They pick up an egg-beater and point it at the camera.

Narrator: Woah, big call! You seem so sure, not really a good start to your study of critical thinking.

On camera: The narrator is now walking through the second-hand store past other people who are looking at the goods. They pick up and put things down as they walk.

Narrator: Look, I respect your belief but I think I’ve got options. Like the world is my oyster, or kina, or pāua. I’m thinking I can go to go uni, polytech, whare wānanga, or do a trade…

On camera: The narrator stops walking and stands in the book section of the store.

Narrator: …and as long as I give a hundy to everything that I do I know my dream job will find me!

Text on screen: Get pathways and peace of mind with the School Leavers’ Toolkit., along with the logos for Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga (Ministry of Education) and the School Leavers’ Toolkit.


University courses traditionally focus on teaching academic subjects, but many now include work placements and internships.

There are currently eight universities in Aotearoa New Zealand. They typically offer a mix of general degrees, such as a Bachelor of Arts or Commerce, as well as some more specialist degrees.

Some specialist degrees are only offered at certain universities, so if you’re interested in something like Veterinary Science or Medicine, you’ll want to look into which university or universities offer these.

While some jobs will need you to have a degree, such as becoming a doctor or a lawyer, not all of them will.

Check out our article on how to work out what career is best for you by clicking on the link below.

Useful links:

Polytechnics (ITPs)

Polytechnics, also known as Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs), focus on teaching a range of technical and vocational learning options. This covers not only learning practical skills aimed at getting a job, but also qualifications including certificates, diplomas and degrees.

If you are interested in more ‘hands on’ learning options you should explore what courses are available at ITPs, including what your local ITP offers.

Note: The main differences between certificates, diplomas and degrees is that they relate to different levels on the New Zealand Qualification Framework (NZQF). For example, you can get certificates from levels one to six, with a Graduate Certificate at level seven and a Postgraduate Certificate at level eight.

For more information on each of these, check out the links below.

Useful links:


Wānanga offer a Māori-centred tertiary education that supports te ao Māori. They have courses in a range of subjects right up to Postgraduate level (further study after completing a first degree), where āhuatanga Māori and tikanga Māori are central to the programmes.

There are currently three Wānanga, all of which have multiple campuses throughout the country: Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, Te Wānanga o Raukawa, and Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi.

Useful links:

Private Training Establishments (PTEs)

PTEs can offer study options ranging from vocational study to degrees. While some PTEs offer a variety of subjects, some focus on more specific areas.

Depending on what you want to study and where, a PTE could be a good option for you.

Useful links:

Industry Training

Industry training allows you to do formal education and training through your workplace, with most learning done on the job. Apprenticeships are one type of industry training.

You can do workplace training in a range of hands-on industries, such as engineering or construction.

Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) are in charge of organising the training for employees. Being able to train while you work  means you can earn money at the same time as getting your qualification.

If you're working, or thinking about getting a job, it's a good idea to ask if your employer offers workplace training.

Useful links:

Key websites

  • has information on everything from how to apply for scholarships to writing CVs, helping you decide what career is right for you.
  • NZQA: NZQA, or the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, is the Government department that looks after qualifications and runs assessments at school.
  • Study in New Zealand: Study in New Zealand is the main resource for international students looking for answers on studying in, you guessed it, Aotearoa New Zealand.
  • StudyLink: StudyLink provides lots of information about studying – how much it’s going to cost, how to pay for it, and when to apply.
  • Tertiary Education Commission: The Tertiary Education Commission is the link between the Government and tertiary education. If you’re looking for up to date news and resources to help with tertiary education, this is the place to be.