Two years free industry training

From 1 January 2018 the first two years of industry training will be fees free for eligible learners enrolling in eligible programmes. Here you can find out who receives funding, which programmes are included, and how to navigate the process.

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible for fees-free for your industry training programme for 2018, you must:

  • Be enrolling in a New Zealand Apprenticeship or other programme of at least 120 credits that commences in 2018, 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
  • Not be currently enrolled in a school at the start date of the programme; and either
    • Have been enrolled in a school at any time during 2017 or 2018; or
    • Not have previously undertaken more than 60 credits (half a year of equivalent full-time tertiary education, 0.5 EFTS) at level 3 or above on the NZQF, including tertiary education at an equivalent level undertaken in any other country, but excluding any tertiary education undertaken while enrolled in a secondary school.

What period is covered for industry training?

Fees-free for 2018 covers eligible programmes beginning in 2018 for up to two years. You can begin your training any time in 2018 and you will be eligible for your next 24 months fees-free.

Are there any age requirements?

No, there are no age requirements or restrictions.

Will I be eligible for fees-free if I’m enrolled in a secondary school while completing a tertiary education course?

No. A range of other support is available for school students who wish to begin tertiary study before they finish school. Tertiary study undertaken while enrolled in a secondary school will not count against students’ future eligibility for fees-free tertiary education.

I have been at school in 2017 and did a tertiary level course as part of my study. Will I be eligible for fees-free?

Yes. The fees-free policy will not penalise people who take tertiary courses while at secondary school. These courses are not counted as previous tertiary study for the purpose of assessing someone’s “first time study” status.

Can I carry fees-free over to another year?

For industry trainees and apprentices, fees free covers up to the first two years of your programme.

I’m eligible for MPTT or Youth Guarantee, does fees-free funding apply to me?

Maori & Pasifika Trades Training (MPTT) and Youth Guarantee are separate funding mechanisms. If you are eligible for either MPTT or Youth Guarantee, fees-free will not apply to you.

What’s included in fees-free?

How much study can I get fees-free in 2018?

The Government’s intention is for the policy to cover two years industry training, which is usually 120 credits. 

What sorts of fees will be covered by fees-free?

For industry trainees and apprentices, the fees-free policy will cover up to two years of fees paid by eligible trainees and their employers for training and assessment, including fees paid to Industry Training Organisations or directly to training and assessment providers. The policy will not cover other fees and charges paid by eligible trainees and their employers, including professional registration and occupational licensing fees, or charges for other services such as those provided by group training schemes.

What qualifications are eligible for fees-fee?

Click here for the list of eligible qualifications. Please note that this list is indicative and subject to change. Please check the credits with your Training Advisor before enrolling.

Why do courses have to be recognised and funded to be available fees-free?

The policy aims to contribute to New Zealanders having affordable access to good quality tertiary education that provides skills for life and work. Quality assurance provides confidence that the course meets New Zealand standards. And access to TEC funding means that the course has good educational performance.

Why is the industry training requirement set at 120 credits?

The 120 credit minimum will help ensure training programmes have career benefits for trainees, and will avoid trainees using up their fees-free entitlement on short programmes required (and usually paid for) by employers.

What happens if I opt out of training during the two years fees free?

 Competenz will follow its standard process for learners terminating their training within the 24 month fees free time frame. Any refund for training fees covered by the fees free scheme, will be refunded directly back to the Government funding agent, the Tertiary Education Commission. If you achieve 60 credits or more, you will not be eligible for fees free going forward. Please ask your Training Advisor for further information if required.

Where to get more help

How can I get my National Student Number (NSN)?

If you are currently at school, you can ask your school for your NSN.

You can also contact the NZQA on 0800 697 296 (between 8am and 5pm Monday to Friday) or by email through the NZQA website.

What do I do if I’m not sure how much previous study I’ve done?

If you need help confirming your previous study, contact NZQA on 0800 697 296 (between 8am and 5pm Monday to Friday) or your previous education provider/industry training organisation.

What should I do if I’m not sure of my residency status?

If you need help with determining your residency status, contact Immigration New Zealand through its contact centre on 0508 558 855.

Note that Australian citizens and Australian permanent residents are automatically considered to have a residence class visa.

Why don’t residency requirements apply to industry trainees and apprentices?

Fees free eligibility for industry training is aligned with eligibility for other industry training funding. Anyone working legally in New Zealand can access industry training, if their employer is willing to invest in and support this.

What happens if my eligibility is unknown?

Learners who return an unknown eligibility result from will need to complete the statutory declaration process.

The statutory declaration process involves the learner returning a witnessed declaration attesting to their eligibility for fees-free to the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) for verification. The TEC will update the NSN file advising whether the NSNs are eligible for fees-free or not eligible for fees-free.

This process may take up to two business days.

Instructions for completing the statutory declaration process are at