Transporting NCEA

June 2010


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Informal relationships recognise quals offshore

Domestic and international students

gaining qualifications in New Zealand successfully enrol in tertiary institutions around the world.

International students want to know how their qualifications will ‘transport’ elsewhere, and many Kiwi students also like to have some idea of what they can do with their secondary school achievements should they decide to study in another country.

International and domestic students are encouraged to discuss their tertiary education plans with their schools, which should help plan the most appropriate study required for the student’s career path.

On request, New Zealand Qualifications Authority provides a range of academic indicators for overseas admission centres.

The National Certificate of Education Achievement (NCEA) is New Zealand’s national school qualification. NCEA level 3 is accepted internationally as a university entrance measure.

New Zealand uses informal arrangements rather than government-to-government arrangements for students seeking tertiary admission internationally. Examples of these arrangements are summarised below.

There are a small number of requests for information on studying in the United States, where the requirements vary depending into which state the applicant is seeking tertiary admission.


In the United Kingdom, NCEA level 3 is broadly equivalent to the United Kingdom’s general certificate of education (GCE) A-level.


NCEA level 3 results are used in the Australian Interstate Tertiary Index for entrance to all Australian universities. At students’ request, NZQA sends students’ results to the Australian tertiary admission authorities early in January of each year.


New Zealand schools enrolling Thai international students should be aware that Thai students need a Matthayom 6 Equivalency certificate to be eligible to apply for university in Thailand. An Equivalency certificate can be achieved by fulfilling option 1 or 2 below and meeting additional criteria as outlined in circular S2009/035 on the NZQA website (

Matthayom 6 equivalence will be gained if a student achieves either option 1 or 2:

  • Option 1: 60 credits at level 2 or above in a minimum of five subjects. These credits are to include a minimum requirement of four credits in English (literacy) at level 2 or above and four credits in mathematics (numeracy) at level 2 or above.
  • Option 2: NCEA level 2 certificate (with at least 80 credits, of which 60 must be level 2 or higher and the remaining 20 must be level 1 or higher).

Thai universities indicated they would be giving preference to applicants with NCEA level 2, evidence of literacy and numeracy, and students who had studied five subjects.

Students are advised to:

  • Achieve NCEA level 2.
  • Study five distinct subjects (similar to a course of study a New Zealand student aiming for university would take at level 2).
  • Achieve a minimum of 12 level 2 credits per subject (preferably more, and the more merits and excellences achieved the better).

Schools with students wanting to apply for tertiary study in Thailand should be cautious when choosing subjects as many university courses require a set of requisite subjects. For more information, see circular S2009/035 on the NZQA website (


In Germany, NCEA is accepted for admission to German universities, provided the requirements listed on the German language website ( are met. These requirements are largely New Zealand’s own minimum requirements for university entrance, but there is an additional requirement for at least five distinct subjects to have been studied.

German students wishing to apply for university in Germany after studying at school in New Zealand must:

  • Obtain an NCEA level 2 or level 3 certificate.
  • Study at least five university entrance-approved subjects in appropriate combinations.

Secondary students aiming for admission into German universities should be well informed about requirements for subject choices. NZQA recommends that schools advise students wishing to apply to a German university to choose from the list of jointly approved subjects. For more information, see circular S2009/042 on the NZQA website (