Otago Polytechnic

Certificate in Foundation Studies (Level 2) and (Level 3)



Six months full-time (per level); part-time options

On campus

60 per level
2 and 3
February and July
  • Location
    Study breaks
  • Dunedin
    24 July 2017
    2 October 2017 - 13 October 2017
Want to develop the skills to prepare you for more study or to help you get a job? 

These foundation programmes will let you explore a range of options and will give you a taste of what Polytechnic study is all about. You will learn in groups in a supportive environment with teachers who are approachable and interested in what you want to achieve as an individual. 

No matter what your situation, they can help you to reach your goals! 

At Level 2, we will help you to improve your writing, numeracy and computing skills. We will also work with you to develop your confidence and study skills so that you feel prepared to continue with further learning if that is what you want. Once you complete your Level 2 programme, you may be able to progress into one of our Level 3 certificate qualifications in areas such as cookery, information technology or business. Or you could move on to our Level 3 foundation programme. 

The Level 3 foundation programme will help you to develop the skills you need to move into a qualification in your chosen area of study. Once you complete your Level 3 programme, you may be able to progress into any of our Level 3 or 4 certificate programmes. You will also have a strong application for diploma level study. 

Please note: From 2018, this programme name will change to the New Zealand Certificate in Study and Career Preparation (Level 2) and (Level 3). This is due to a national review of qualifications that is being carried out by NZQA across all New Zealand tertiary institutions.

Love the outdoors and practical work?

Farmhand is a 13-week, Dunedin-based programme for 16-25 year olds run in partnership with the Malcam Charitable Trust. You will have the opportunity to learn about different career pathways within primary industries via a practical agriculture placement.

This programme will allow you to: 

  • gain a Certificate in Foundation Studies (Level 3) from Otago Polytechnic
  • use some of these credits to complete your NCEA Level 2
  • experience and gain introductory skills in animal care and behaviour, horticulture, ecological restoration work, riding quad bikes, growing your own food and good health and safety practises
  • choose your work placement on a dairy farm, in a nursery, with a sheep and beef farmer, in landscaping – we will try and find the right match for you
  • improve your reading, writing and numeracy skills, build your confidence and learn how to put together a great CV.

This qualification and work experience is a stepping stone into education and employment in the primary industry sector (e.g. farming, veterinary nursing, landscaping, tree surgery, conservation, environmental science, food science and more.   

Visit www.farmhand.org.nz to find out more about this programme and to apply!  

Free fees information

Due to a government initiative aiming to encourage more people to achieve a Level 2 qualification, we are offering free fees to those that do not already hold a Level 2 or higher qualification. 

If you do hold a Level 2 or higher qualification, some restrictions may apply. 

Please contact us for more information or if you would like to discuss your situation. Phone 0800 762 786 or email info@op.ac.nz  

Youth Guarantee information

If you are a 16-19 year old* and feel that school didn’t work out for you, you may be able to study these Certificates via our Youth Guarantee Scheme and pay no fees. Please note that there are limited Youth Guarantee places available for this programme and therefore funding cannot be guaranteed. 

*or you are going to be 15 years old at the time that this programme starts AND have an early leaving exemption from school

To be eligible for Youth Guarantee funding, you must:

  • Be a domestic student between 16-19 years old
  • OR be 15 years of age at the time when you commence the programme AND have an early leaving exemption from your school
  • Not already hold a Level 3 qualification in any subject
  • Have been thinking about leaving school and getting a job OR prefer to be working towards a career rather than staying at school OR have left school and are not sure how to enter higher education or employment
  • Be more motivated in a non-school setting and be prepared to enrol in a full-time programme.

Fees and allowances

The Youth Guarantee Scheme will cover tuition fees, material and equipment costs of your programme of study. 18-19 year olds enrolled in fees-free Youth Guarantee qualifications will now be able to access the course-related costs part of the student loan and student allowances if they meet the eligibility criteria. Those under 18 years old will not be able to access any part of the student loans. Funding for travel is available, conditions apply. Please visit the Studylink website for full details. We strongly recommend that you read this carefully prior to applying for this programme.  

The process

  • There is not a separate Youth Guarantee application form. Please apply for this programme by using our standard Otago Polytechnic application form. To apply online, or to download a paper version, click the apply button at the top right hand corner of this page.
  • If you meet the criteria for Youth Guarantee funding, you will be offered the funding if it is available. We will ask you to let us know within two weeks if you do not wish to take up the funding. . 
  • If there is no Youth Guarantee funding available, we will send you a letter advising you of this. Along with this letter, you will receive an invoice, terms and conditions, a Studylink brochure and an equipment list advising what you will need to purchase before starting your programme. 
Entry requirements
  • Open entry. You will take part in an assessment process to measure your current skill level. This will involve having an informal chat with a course advisor so we can make sure that you are placed at the right level. 
  • For Level 2, if English is not your first language, you must provide evidence of English language proficiency.
  • For Level 3, if English is not your first language, you must demonstrate English language skills equivalent to an IELTS overall band score (academic) of 5.0, with no band score less than 5.0.
Additional documentation

You must provide proof of identity and proof of residency (where appropriate). This must be a birth certificate or passport.

Additional costs

You may need to consider access to a computer and/or tools for an elective. 

You will study

At Level 2, you will study a range of subjects to become used to learning at a Polytechnic. At Level 3, you will focus on specific subjects to help you gain entry to higher level programmes. In addition, you will learn how to organise, plan and direct your own learning. 


  • Mathematics/numeracy
  • Research and information management skills
  • Computing
  • Personal development skills (including study skills)
  • Academic reading and writing skills
  • Career and workplace skills.

A variety of complete courses taken from our Level 2, 3 and 4 programmes may also be accessible for elective study, depending on availability and timetabling.

Your workload

You will be expected to attend Otago Polytechnic for a minimum of 20 hours per week. In addition, you will be expected to complete study tasks outside of that time.

Student loans/allowances

Student loans and allowances are for domestic students only. For information about student loans and allowances please visit the Studylink website. It is important to apply for your student loan/allowance at the same time as you apply for this programme, due to the length of time Studylink take to process. Loan/allowance applications can be cancelled at any time if you decide to withdraw your programme application or if it is unsuccessful. 


While every effort is made to ensure that this sheet is accurate, Otago Polytechnic reserves the right to amend, alter or withdraw any of the contained information. The fees shown in this document are indicative ONLY. Both domestic and international fees are subject to change and are dependent on the development and implementation of Government policies. Please note that additional fees may from time to time be required for external examination, NZQA fees and/or additional material fees.

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