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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
  • Australian citizens residing in New Zealand

the opportunity to study approved programmes without paying tuition fees.

The Zero Fees Scheme applies only to the base tuition fee attached to each eligible programme of study. Direct Material Costs apply. Direct material costs are course specific costs, for example uniform, texts, tools, activities and NZQA charges. Direct material fees (and programme fees in the case of a student’s Zero Fees status being withdrawn) are payable before commencement of a course.

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 Zero Fees Scheme eligibility, students undertaking a programme of study at SIT must:

  • Demonstrate satisfactory academic progress as defined in the requirements of the course or programme of study
  • Maintain satisfactory attendance - at least 80% (or otherwise specified by programme) attendance (not applicable for SIT2LRN)
  • Adhere to the programme's specific rules and requirements
  • Adhere to the provisions of SIT’s Student Code of Conduct

Breach of conditions or withdrawal from a programme may affect students' future entitlement to the Zero Fees Scheme.

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.

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 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. SIT’s chief executive officer Penny Simmonds proposed a radical idea 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 the scheme would become self-funding. 

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.

By 2010, SIT’s total economic impact was estimated to be in excess of $210 million. 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.