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Phone us on  0800 4 0 FEES (0800 4 0 3337) 0800 4 0 FEES  (0800 4 0 3337)
outside NZ +64 3 211 2699

Phone us on  0800 4 0 FEES (0800 4 0 3337) +64 3 214 4977  Email us at info@sit.ac.nzinfo@sit.ac.nz

About the SIT Zero Fees Scheme

SIT’s Zero Fees Scheme allows New Zealand citizens, New Zealand permanent residents and Australian citizens residing in New Zealand the opportunity to study approved programmes without paying tuition fees.

The Zero Fees Scheme, where available, applies only to the base tuition fee attached to each programme of study. Direct Material Costs apply. Direct material costs are costs that relate directly to students, for example, to cover your uniform, texts, tools, activities and NZQA charges.

For international fees, including Zero Fees English, click here.

Eligible programmes

Programmes that are offered under Zero Fees Scheme are:

  • Tertiary Education Commission funded (you must be a New Zealand citizen, New Zealand permanent resident or Australian citizen to receive Tertiary Education Commission funding)
  • of 12 or more weeks in duration
  • studied either full time or part time
  • leading to a national or local qualification.

Zero Fees terms and conditions

In order to retain the Zero Fees Scheme, students undertaking a programme of study at SIT must meet the following criteria:

  • Satisfactory academic progress as defined in the requirements of the course or programme of study
  • Satisfactory attendance, maintaining at least 80% (or programme-specific) attendance (not applicable for SIT2LRN programmes)
  • Adherence to the programme's specific rules and requirements
  • Adherence to the provisions of SIT’s Student Code of Conduct
  • Withdrawal from a programme may affect students' future entitlement to the Zero Fees Scheme.

In any case of a breach of the terms and conditions, and after due notice, a student’s Zero Fee status may be withdrawn. In this situation, if a student wishes and is eligible to continue in an enrolled programme of study, s/he will then be liable for the programme fees required for the remainder of the academic year.

All matters relating to student rights and responsibilities will be handled in accordance with SIT’s Policies and Procedures, as outlined in the Student Handbook.

Direct material fees (and programme fees in the case of a student’s Zero Fees status being withdrawn) are payable before commencement of a course.

The Zero Fees Scheme continues to be available as a result of present Government policies. Although not foreseen, SIT is unable to guarantee ongoing Zero Fees provision should for any reason present funding arrangements and/or Government policies be reviewed.

SIT’s refund policy for domestic students is available as an Adobe PDF file here.

The story behind the Zero Fees Scheme

In the late 1990s, Invercargill's population was declining, property prices were extremely low and there were limited opportunities for our young people.

But an idea was brewing in the mind of SIT’s chief executive officer Penny Simmonds: for community funders to kick start a free fees scheme by contributing $7.2 million over three years to effectively pay students’ tuition fees. All students would have to pay was their material costs – for things like uniforms or textbooks. The expected boost in the student population meant that, after that time – with more government funding for the extra equivalent full-time students – the scheme would become self-funding. 

Between 2001 and 2003, Southland community and business funders contributed $7.25 million to kick-start the Zero Fees Scheme. The main contributors to the Zero Fees Scheme were:

  • Community Trust of Southland - $3.45million
  • Invercargill Licensing Trust - $1.73million
  • Invercargill City Council - $1.21million
  • Southland District Council - $0.35million

During the first year of the scheme, SIT needed to attract 40 per cent more students in order for it to be viable. Economic forecasts suggested that, should the scheme succeed, during the first year alone Invercargill would enjoy an extra $11.5 million in business turnover, while the city’s GDP would increase by $6.7 million. Overall, the regional economy would get a $19 million boost after the first year and up to $30 million by the end of the third.

Reality proved even better. Far more students took up the offer than anticipated, they spent more money and many were older. They moved from up north and brought their spouses and children south with them. The 46 per cent increase in numbers saw the roll leap from 1781 equivalent full-time students in 2000 to almost 2600 in 2001. There was $25 million additional business turnover, $13.9 million increase in the city’s GDP and the number of fulltime equivalent jobs rose to 266, more than double the anticipated 113.

Over a decade on, SIT continues to offer the Zero Fees Scheme to over 12,000 students in Invercargill and beyond. By 2010, SIT’s total economic impact was estimated to be in excess of $210 million. Southland’s regional economy was estimated to be $118 million, and 734 full time equivalent jobs, better off thanks to SIT’s direct spending and spending by its staff and students.

The success of the Zero Fees Scheme has also meant SIT has been able to keep fees for international students low. The Zero Fees Scheme has even been extended to international students, in the form of the Zero Fees English programme.