Are you the first in your family planning to study?

One thing there is no getting away from is that studying at university or one of the country’s ITPs – Institute of Technology and Polytechnics – can be really expensive. Full-time course fees can cost anywhere from $3,000 - $10,000+ each year, and living costs get huge when you’re not at home.  


So it’s important that you keep an eye on as many ways to reduce these costs as you can, and one of the most obvious ones is to look at are scholarships. 

There are literally thousands of scholarships up for grabs at all sorts of institutions, and your school will have access to the givME website which lists most of these. Make sure you get onto this and spend some time seeing if and what you might qualify for. 

Scholarship information and databases 

One relatively new type of scholarship that you might find is what are known as first-in-family scholarships, available to students whose parents (usually) have not gone to university or obtained a degree. This category is bigger than many think, with around 41% of university students and 58% of bachelor level students at ITPs qualifying as first in family students. 

13 first-in-family scholarships at AUT this year 

Auckland University of Technology (AUT) have a new first-in-family programme in place with the Woolf Fisher Trust, offering up to 13 students each year full-fee scholarships each year they study (and keep passing). AUT Vice-Chancellor, Professor Derek McCormack, says the University is proud to have partnered with the Woolf Fisher Trust to establish this scholarship. 

“We want to encourage young New Zealanders to follow their dreams – to experience success in their chosen field of study and inspire others to attend university,” he says. 

Read about the 2017 Woolf Fisher First-in-Family AUT Scholarship recipients -  

The University of Auckland offers first-in-family scholarship support through the university’s Foundation, and similar help is available for chosen students at Otago, Victoria and Waikato universities. Check the various university scholarship pages for these, and if in doubt, contact the institution(s) you may be thinking about and straight out ask them what they can offer first-in-family students. You may be surprised.  

The New Zealand Union of Student Associations, representing students at both universities and ITPs, believes as many as 2,000 first in family scholarships should be made available across the country each year. Their idea was supported by a number of political parties in the 2014 election (but not by the winners), and the union will likely be pushing for support from aspiring leaders again ahead of this year’s general election.   

Going to a university or an ITP is a hard enough decision for most school leavers, and even harder if no one in your close family can help with their experience. It’s a big step for many families, emotionally and financially. First-in-family scholarships are one way to help families take these steps into unfamiliar territory. 

More: The New Zealand Union of Student Associations has published this report on the costs of being a student in 2017   

Find out more about scholarships

Education and training is a priority for Māori and as a result there are many scholarships, grants and awards available for Māori students. These ...
You’re a Pasifika student and thinking about tertiary study -  great! There are many scholarships, grants and awards that you could be in line for ...
Find information on scholarships available at New Zealand Universities, Polytechnics and other training organisations Universities Auckland ...