Programme overview

Thinking about doing a certificate or diploma but not sure you're ready for it? The Certificate in Foundation Studies (Level 3) is a bridging programme that prepares you for the next step in your education or career. When you have completed the programme you can apply for a range of certificates and diplomas at Unitec and other tertiary education providers.

Or, if your goal is to study for a degree, you can go onto the Certificate of University Preparation (Level 4). This prepares you to apply for a degree at a university, institute of technology or polytechnic in New Zealand.


  • Develop the skills and confidence for further study at certificate or diploma level.
  • A pathway into the Certificate of University Preparation, if you want to apply for a degree programme.
  • Guidance designing a learning pathway that gets you where you want to go.
  • A supportive study environment: our lecturers are friendly and knowledgeable, and you'll be studying alongside students of different ages and ethnic backgrounds.
  • A mix of group and individual work, seminars, debates, whanau hui, oral and written exercises, and self-directed learning.
  • Pre-entry assessment to make sure you are studying at the right level.

To complete the Certificate you need to pass four courses, totalling 60 credits. 45 of these credits must be at level 3. Each course is worth 15 credits.

Choose your career pathway

This programme around career pathways and we offer different pathways at each of our three campuses. Please note the Certificate in Foundation Studies (Level 3) is not suitable for students with English as an additional language who need an intensive English language course.

Study for free with the Youth Guarantee scheme

The Certificate in Foundation Studies (Level 3) is eligible for Youth Guarantee Scheme funding for full-time students aged 16 or 17.

Admission requirements

To be eligible for admission, applicants must meet the general, or the discretionary, or the special admission requirements and they must also meet any programme-specific admission requirements. Applicants must also meet the English language requirements and may be interviewed.

Generic Admission Requirements

General Admission

All applicants must be at least 16 years of age on the date of the programme’s commencement for the semester in which they wish to enrol (or provide a completed Early Release Exemption form).

For Level 3 Certificate programmes applicants must have a minimum of 3 years secondary education, OR a Unitec Certificate in Foundation Studies: Whitinga (Level 2), OR equivalent.

Special Admission

Applicants must have:

  1. Attained the age of 20 years on or before the first day of the semester in which study for the Certificate is to commence; AND
  2. Provided sufficient evidence of aptitude or appropriate work or other life experience that would indicate a successful outcome in the qualification.

Discretionary Admission

In exceptional cases an applicant who does not meet the general admission requirements and who has not reached the age of 20 on or before the first day of the semester in which study for the Certificate is to commence may apply for discretionary admission.

In assessing whether to grant discretionary admission in exceptional cases, the primary focus will be on the applicant’s level of preparedness for study at the required level.

English Language Admission Requirements

General English Language requirements
Applicants must have achieved a minimum standard of English as demonstrated by a minimum of 8 credits at NCEA Level 1 in English.

English language requirements for international students

Applicants must have at least ONE of the following:

  1. Gained NCEA level 3 and met New Zealand university entrance requirements;
  2. Clear evidence that they satisfy one of the following criteria for existing English proficiency:
    1. Previous primary and secondary study in English as evidenced by completion of one of the following at schools using English as the language of instruction:
      • Completion of all primary education and at least three years of secondary education (that is, the equivalent of New Zealand Forms 3 to 7 or years 9 to 13); OR
      • Completion of at least five years of secondary education (that is, the equivalent of New Zealand Forms 3 to 7 or years 9 to 13)
    2. Previous tertiary study in English: clear evidence of completion of a tertiary qualification of at least three years’ duration with English as the language of instruction in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the United Kingdom or the United States.
    3. Achievement of the Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA)
  3. Achieved, within the preceding two years, at least one of the English proficiency outcomes listed below:
    1. NZ Certificate in English Language (NZCEL) (General / Workplace / Academic) (Level 3)
    2. An overall IELTS band score (Academic Format) of 5.5 with no band score lower than 5. The IELTS scores used must be taken from a single IELTS Test Report Form
    3. An overall TOEFL Paper-based test (pBT) score of 500 (essay 4 TWE) OR an overall TOEFL Internet-based test (iBT) Score of 35 (writing 20)
    4. First Certificate in English (FCE) with a score of 50 OR Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) with a score of 41 or higher under the Cambridge International standard tests of English as a foreign language
    5. Pearson Test of English PToE (Academic) with a score of 36
    6. City & Guilds Internal English for Speakers of Other Languages (IESOL) B1 Achiever with a score of 43

Programme Specific Admission Requirements

To be admitted to this programme, applicants must also meet the requirements set out in this schedule.

To be admitted to this programme, all applicants must meet the General, Special and Discretional requirements set out in the Certificate Generic Regulations.

The English Language Entry Admission requirements set out in the Certificate Generic Regulations do not apply to this programme. Applicants must have achieved an IELTS (Academic Format) of 5.5 in each band.

In addition, applicants will be required to complete a Bridgepoint Skills Review.

Courses and timetables


  • New students enrolled in this programme will receive their confirmed timetables at Orientation, prior to the start of the semester. Returning students will have their timetables posted to them.
  • Students enrolled in this programme are generally expected to be on campus between 9am and 4pm, Monday to Friday, during the semester. This will be discussed with applicants during the interview process.