Here’s a list of some of the common terms used in tertiary education. 


Seeing the word accreditation signals that a registered provider is capable of running an approved course or awarding Framework credits.

Approval/Approved study course/programme

This is a course or programme that has been approved by the Tertiary Education Commission for the Student Allowance and/or Student Loan. You can find out if your course is approved by asking your education provider.

An approved course is a well-designed programme that is based on clear and consistent aims, content, learning outcomes and assessment practices


The campus is the actual physical space the tertiary institute encompasses.

Course fees

The cost of the actual course is referred to course fees.

Course-related costs

Course-related costs are things like text books, stationery, photocopying, other materials needed, travelling to and from where your course. This is just an example of a few.


A bachelors degree usually requires three years of full time study. This qualification is theory based as opposed to the more practical training certificates and diplomas may consist of.

A student completes a degree in one particular area of study moving progressively from the basic study and concepts to the more advanced levels of the subject area. The subject area chosen becomes known as the ‘major’ in which the student completed the degree.


A diploma normally requires two years of full-time study. Diplomas can stand alone as a qualification or can be completed as a follow on from another qualification a student may have completed. This is where the term ‘postgraduate diploma’, (postgrad) is commonly used. A good example of this

Education provider

This is the organisation you will be studying with. It has to be approved by the Tertiary Education Commission to run their courses and could be a secondary school, private training establishment, university, polytechnic, college of education or wananga.


This means off campus. An extramural course is one that you study from a distant, that is not face-to-face study in a lecture hall with others.


A masters is a qualification that builds on the knowledge and skills of a degree. It requires more demanding and intensive study and includes supervised research.


NQF (National Qualifications Framework) is the qualifications framework which includes unit and achievement standards, National Certificates, National Diplomas and NCEA.


A prerequisite is a compulsory level of learning, course or action that must have been taken before being able to enter the next level/course. It is something a student is required to have passed prior to the next stage.

Post-Grad diploma

A post-grad diploma is one that follows on from another qualification a student may have completed.


A course is called a “paper” in New Zealand


A semester is how the duration of a paper is calculated. For example you may take papers that are one semester long or two. A semester is similar to a school term.

Vocational course

A vocational course is one that has an employment related component. The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) is responsible for determining whether a course meets the vocational criteria.


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This information was compiled by the Kiwi Families team.

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