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Get in: Admission to university

Te whakauru mai

How do I get into university?
Check out the range of different pathways below

University Entrance with NCEA


University Entrance (UE) is the minimum standard for entrance to a New Zealand university.

To qualify, 2023 school leavers need:

Three subjects at NCEA Level 3, made up of:
•    14 credits each of three approved subjects

Literacy – 10 credits at Level 2 or above, made up

•    5 credits in reading
•    5 credits in writing.


Numeracy – 10 credits at Level 1 or above, made up of:

  • co-requisite Level 1 numeracy unit standard (US 32406) or te pāngarau unit standard (US 32412), or

  • certain achievement standards.

Check out other admission pathways if you’ve missed out on UE.

For more information on UE, go to NZQA’s website.

Te Marautanga o Aotearoa

The UE standard includes approved subjects and achievement standards from the Te Marautanga o Aotearoa. Visit NZQA for more information


Discretionary Entrance
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What if I don't get UE?

University preparation courses

Universities and other providers offer university

preparation courses for students without UE

or an equivalent qualification. 

Check with the university to see which courses they accept as a suitable entry qualification.

If you didn’t get UE, this may be an option for you. Contact the university to find out more.

Discretionary Entrance


If you're a New Zealand or Australian citizen (or permanent resident) aged 16–20*
and didn't achieve UE, you can apply for Discretionary Entrance.

This is only for admission into a specific course of study, not general admission into
a university.

​It is based on achievement in your NCEA Level 2 results.

To meet the minimum requirements for Discretionary Entrance, you need to: 

  • achieve at least 14 credits in an approved subject at Level 2 towards NCEA or its equivalent

  • meet the literacy and numeracy standards required for UE or their equivalents

  • provide a reference from your school principal or another suitable person

  • meet any additional requirements for entry into your preferred study option. 


Check university websites for Discretionary Entrance application deadlines and what you’ll need to provide with your application. 


See also Discretionary Entrance regulations, guidelines and procedures [PDF].


* Discretionary Entrance was modified for 2020–2022 school leavers because of Covid-19 impacts. In normal years, it is only for students who have not completed Year 13.

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