Different types of tertiary provider

What's the difference between universities, polytechnics and institutes of technology, wānanga and private training establishments?

There are a range of tertiary education providers in New Zealand. They are funded by the government through the Tertiary Education Commission. Here's an overview of the different types of tertiary providers.  

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There are 8 Universities in NZ and they provide degree and postgraduate education.

Universities work with communities, business, industry, iwi and the research community to share and apply knowledge, and promote learning. They host the country’s Centres of Research Excellence. They also provide sub-degree and community programmes.

Find out about New Zealand’s university system on Universities NZ website.

Institutes of technology and polytechnics

Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics provide a very wide variety of technical, vocational and professional education. They also do research, particularly applied and technological research.

There are 18 Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics in New Zealand. You can find a directory of Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics on Vocational Education website.


New Zealand’s 3 wānanga provide quality education using Māori ways of teaching and learning, and in doing so contribute towards the survival and well-being of Māori as a people.

Wānanga also have an ongoing role to play in re-engaging learners into education. The iwi that support each wānanga ensure Māori philosophies, principles and approaches are incorporated into the learning environment.

Private training establishments (PTEs)

PTEs are operated by a wide range of companies, trusts and other entities, and offer post-school education or vocational training.

These are diverse in terms of their scale of operation, location, ethnicity, culture and areas of educational expertise. This lets them respond to the broad range of needs of students, industry, employers, communities as well as Māori and Pacific peoples and other stakeholders.

You can get information and contact details for PTEs from:

Government training establishments

These are a state-owned organisations that offer education or training, for example NZ Police Training Services and New Zealand Army.

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