Top Universities in New Zealand 2019

Top Universities in New Zealand 2019

Sabrina Collier

Updated January 16, 2020 Updated January 16

Click here to view the latest version of this article, based on the QS World University Rankings® 2020.

New Zealand has eight entries in the QS World University Rankings® 2019, all ranked in the global top 500, based on a methodology which assesses each university’s reputation among employers and academics, as well as its research impact (citations per faculty member) and other factors.

8. Auckland University of Technology

Auckland University of Technology

Ranked joint 464th in the world in 2019, Auckland University of Technology (AUT) was established in 1895 as the Auckland Technical School, and today boasts the highest score of any of the best universities in New Zealand for the percentage of international students indicator, ranked 23rd in the world.

7. Massey University

Massey University

Massey University, based in the city of Palmerton North on the North Island, has fallen slightly in this year’s ranking to joint 332nd, but is nonetheless consistently found in the global top 350. It’s the only university in New Zealand to offer courses in aviation, dispute resolution, veterinary medicine, and nanoscience.

6. Lincoln University

Lincoln University

Up two places to rank joint 317th in the world this year alongside the Czech Republic’s Charles University, Lincoln University receives strong scores for its percentages of both international students and faculty members, and is also rated in the global top 50 for agriculture as of the latest QS World University Rankings by Subject.

5. University of Waikato

University of Waikato

Another of the best universities in New Zealand to improve its position this year is the University of Waikato, up 18 places to rank 274th in the world in 2019. The university is chiefly based in the city of Hamilton on the North Island, and also operates a campus in Tauranga.

4. University of Canterbury

University of Canterbury

Based in Christchurch, the largest city on New Zealand’s South Island, the University of Canterbury is ranked joint 231st this year and is one of the country’s oldest universities, having been founded in 1873 as Canterbury College. It now has a student population of around 14,000, made up of 80 nationalities.

3. Victoria University of Wellington

Victoria University of Wellington

Victoria University of Wellington was established in 1897 and is ranked joint 221st in the world alongside France’s Sciences Po this year. It also features in the global top 100 for 12 subjects in the QS World University Rankings by Subject, including the top 50 for law, library and information management, and hospitality.

2. University of Otago

University of Otago

Down slightly this year to rank joint 175th in the world alongside two other universities, the University of Otago is the oldest institution in New Zealand, having been established almost 150 years ago in 1869. It’s mainly based in Dunedin, and has about 20,838 students, including 2,837 international students.

1. University of Auckland

University of Auckland

The number one among the best universities in New Zealand continues to be the University of Auckland, despite it falling three places this year to now rank 85th in the world. It achieves its best rank in the academic reputation indicator.

The country’s largest university (with 41,866 students), it’s in the global top 50 for 18 subjects as of the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2018, including archaeology, nursing and business.


Now you know about New Zealand's best universities, get prepared to study there with our complete guide, which includes advice on student visa applications, admission requirements, costs, funding and more.

This article was originally published in June 2018 . It was last updated in January 2020

Written by

The former Assistant Editor of, Sabrina wrote and edited articles to guide students from around the world on a wide range of topics. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from Aberystwyth University and grew up in Staffordshire, UK. 

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