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Fees-free FAQs

What is fees-free?

People who meet certain criteria are eligible for fees-free study. These are outlined at

If the fees-free website tells you that your status is ‘unknown’, we will try and help find out how many credits you have on your NZQA Record of Learning.

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What are the criteria for free industry-based training?

Some of the criteria for study in 2019 are different to those for 2018, and these may change each year, so you should check the fees-free website for the latest information. As at October 2018, you need to meet these requirements for fees-free industry training in 2019. You must:

  • be enrolling in a New Zealand Apprenticeship or other programme of at least 120 credits (equivalent to 1 EFTS) that commences in 2019, is funded by the Tertiary Education Commission, recognised by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, and is at New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF) level 3 or above; and
  • be entitled to work in New Zealand; and
  • have been enrolled at school in 2017, 2018 or 2019 (unless you are an 'adult learner' - please see the fees-free website for more information).

A change for 2019 is that any credits achieved as part of any industry training programme that consists of fewer than 120 credits (that are reported after 1 January 2018) won’t be included in measures of prior tertiary education to determine eligibility for fees-free.

What does this mean for me?

I was at school during 2018, but was also working part-time or during the holidays. Am I eligible?

Yes. If you were at school during 2017 and 2018 (or will be at school in 2019), then you are eligible for fees-free study no matter how many credits you have earned outside school. Check your eligibility at the fees-free website if you are unsure. We can try and help you determine your eligibility.

Apprenticeships and diplomas

If you’re planning on becoming a cookery, catering, food & beverage or aviation engineering apprentice in 2019, and were at school in 2017 or 2018 (or will be at school in 2019), then you’re eligible for fees-free study.

If you weren’t at school in 2017 or 2018, then you need to check the fees-free website to see if you are eligible. If the website says that your eligibility is ‘unknown’, we can try and help you determine your eligibility for fees-free.

Please note: our hospitality apprenticeships are already fees-free, but we’ll need to establish your eligibility anyway under the new system.

For aviation engineering pre-employment study at a polytechnic and air traffic services through Airways New Zealand, you’ll need to enquire directly with those organisations.

Our other industry training programmes and qualifications are all under 120 credits so nothing changes.

On-job training – employees working and not planning tertiary study

If you’re working in one of our service sectors, either full- or part-time, and not planning on full-time tertiary study or signing to an apprenticeship, then nothing changes.

Ask your employer about the range of training programmes you could do that lead to you gaining a New Zealand Certificate. For many employers, these programmes are already, or can be, free.

On-job training – employees working and planning tertiary study

If you’re working in one of our service sectors now, either full- or part-time, but also planning to do full-time study or take up an industry apprenticeship, you should visit to see whether you’re eligible.

If you are eligible, but have concerns about any on-job training that you are now doing changing your eligibility, we will try and help.

If the fees-free website says that your status is unknown or ineligible, then you will need to contact the tertiary institution that you are planning to study at for further assistance.

Fees-free query form

Please complete this form if the information above has not answered your questions about the fees-free scheme and industry training, including apprenticeships, training programmes, qualifications, unit standards or credits.

We will get back to you as soon as we can. For queries made before 17 December, we will try and get back to you before midday on 20 December. Queries made on or after 20 December will be responded to in the week of 7 January 2019, or earlier if we can. If your query is urgent, you may be able to get assistance from the Fees-free or TEC websites.

Please note:

As this is a Government programme that is administered by the Tertiary Education Commission, we may not be able to help you with every query. Any answer we give will be based on what we understand to be the case. Therefore, we can not accept responsibility for any actions or decisions you might subsequently make. For further advice, please contact TEC: