New Zealand’s Qualifications: A Golden Ticket to a World of Opportunities

Published by Afterschool.my on Jan 14, 2022, 04:32 pm

Dr Abigail Koay Doctor of Philosophy (Engineering) 2019 Victoria University of Wellington Research Fellow at The University of Waikato, Oct 2018 – Feb 2021


New Zealand’s high-flying universities open doors to a world of opportunities. All eight universities in New Zealand consistently rank high in the QS World University Rankings and Times Higher Education Rankings. Qualifications from any of these universities are also accredited across the world, opening a multitude of doors to prospects everywhere.

But aside from being a reputable country for higher education, New Zealand is also filled with picturesque landscapes, deep-rooted culture, friendly faces, and multiculturism.

For Dr. Abigail Koay, she believes New Zealand is forever welcoming towards international students while providing an excellent support system for all.

Dr Abigail (2nd from left) graduating from Victoria University of Wellington in 2019 with a doctorate in Philosophy (Engineering)

Pursuing her passion at Victoria University of Wellington Dr. Abigail’s tertiary education journey began in Malaysia, with her pursuing her Bachelor of Computer Science at Universiti Malaysia Pahang. As she had always aspired to gain an international education experience, furthering her studies in New Zealand was in line with her goals.

“Prior to me moving to New Zealand, I had a friend who had just graduated from Victoria University of Wellington, so I decided to dive in and check out if there were any academics interested in network security at that university. I wrote to the university expressing my interest in pursuing my Ph.D. and was thrilled to learn that there were several academics that were working on topics related to network security. Everything fell into place after that, and I was on my way to New Zealand,” Dr. Abigail explains.

She was in for a surprise as she walked down the halls of Victoria University of Wellington, learning the number of high-achieving individuals who have previously walked through those very halls. “I did not know much about the university before I arrived in New Zealand. Whilst studying there, I found out that the university produced so many great graduates, including Nobel Prize in Chemistry winner, Professor Alan MacDiarmid.

“The university was also ranked first in the country for high-quality research back in 2013 and again in 2019. Knowing this motivated me to strive in my education and brought me peace of mind in affirming that I not only chose the perfect university but also the ideal country that suits my needs, goals, and aspirations,” she gleams.

Inspired by the education, leading by example at The University of Waikato

After completing her Ph.D., Dr. Abigail took up the position of Research Fellow at The University of Waikato.

Speaking of the transition, she says, “It felt like I was starting my Ph.D. all over again but with a different take on it. I had to start researching from the fundamentals, which involved literature surveys and setting up an experimental testbed. I learned to teach and be a supervisor. It was a great experience as I received a lot of support from The University of Waikato and had a lot of preparation from my time at Victoria University of Wellington.” When asked what sets the education system in New Zealand apart from that in Malaysia, Dr. Abigail expressed, “I feel very blessed to have had the chance to pursue my education in both countries. But one thing that stood out during my Ph.D. was the greater freedom in course selection. I find that students in New Zealand can take any course they like as an elective, and not be constrained only to courses offered in their field. It is bewildering to know that a software engineering student can partake in earth science courses too! This helps students broaden their portfolio and encourage multidisciplinary research and interaction.”

The University of Waikato is located in New Zealand’s heartland, Hamilton and Tauranga - two of New Zealand’s fastest-growing cities


International Ph.D. students in New Zealand enjoy the following benefits:

  • Pay the same fees as New Zealand domestic students.
  • Enroll your children as domestic students in New Zealand’s state schools.
  • No limit on the hours you can work while studying.
  • Eligible for a 3-year post-study work visa.
  • Your partner or spouse can apply for an open work visa for the duration of your studies.

Learn about New Zealand’s Ph.D. Package HERE .

In February 2020, Dr Abigail Koay was the first Malaysian academic to deliver the inaugural Arisan Digital workshop on Cloud Security to Girls in Tech Indonesia’s members at Ruang Komunal for Facebook. Girls in Tech is a non-profit organisation dedicated to eliminating the gender gap in tech and has more than 60,000 members in 50+ chapters around the world

Bestowing joy & memories

Aside from the education system in New Zealand, Abigail paints a picture of the joys of being a student in a different country. “Studying abroad is very rewarding. You get to experience a different culture, try new food, and meet people from all around the world. In addition to world-class universities, New Zealand is such a beautiful country with picturesque sceneries and friendly people. When I traveled around New Zealand, the scenery changes every two hours which were phenomenal,” conveyed Dr. Abigail.

New Zealand is best known for its rich Maori culture and experiencing it first-hand played a large part in enriching Dr. Abigail’s student life. “The universities have their own marae, which is a Maori communal and sacred that serves religious and social purposes. Every official event will have elements of Maori culture woven into the proceedings, making them unique; helping us learn about showing respect towards the culture and the attendees. I love watching kapa haka, which is a traditional performance in Maori culture, it is always so mesmerizing and moving to watch,” she shares.

Dr Abigail (cre of last row) cherishes the spontaneous ski trip she had with her friends from Victoria University of Wellingtonent

A Ph.D. gained in New Zealand is recognized around the world, identifying the Ph.D. students as experts in their specialties.  Although Dr. Abigail is now based in the University of Queensland, Australia, as a research fellow, she reflects on the wonderful years she spent in New Zealand and holds each moment dear to her heart. She comments, “I will forever treasure my time in New Zealand that has guided me down the road towards my goals and aspirations and opened many doors to future successes. It was sad to leave a country that felt like my second home, but I will always be grateful for all the memories and goals I achieved in New Zealand.”

For more information on how to Study with New Zealand, click HERE.

Thinking of applying to a New Zealand University? Speak to an ENZ Recognised Agency in Malaysia HERE.

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