Skip Navigation LinksHomeProgrammesVet Nursing & Animal CareNew Zealand Diploma in Veterinary Nursing

New Zealand Diploma in Veterinary Nursing

New Zealand Diploma in Veterinary Nursing

Level 6

Prepare for a career as a veterinary nursing professional in UCOL’s New Zealand Diploma in Veterinary Nursing.

A photograph of a dog sitting on a table with students
Quick info

Level: 6

Locations: UCOL Manawatū in Palmerston North

Duration: 1 year full-time (41 weeks)
Part-time option available.
(See Course Hours & Duration for details)

25 Jul 2022 - 30 Jun 2023

Domestic Fees: *
$6669.00Scholarship info

International Fees:*

Additional Fees
Compulsory course costs may apply.

* Fees are indicative only, and are inclusive of the student services levy and GST (goods and services tax). The fee shown is for one year of study.

Being a veterinary nurse is a hands-on, satisfying role. You’ll care for all kinds of companion animals, work as a team with other professionals and solve problems.

UCOL’s New Zealand Diploma in Veterinary Nursing will provide you with the technical skills, knowledge and attributes needed to help animals attain, maintain or recover optimal health and quality of life. 

COVID-19 Vaccination Mandate

The New Zealand Government COVID-19 Mandate Order requires the following workers to be vaccinated: 

  • health and disability sector workers
  • prison staff
  • border and MIQ workers.

As well as that, private companies and organisations have the right to require staff to be vaccinated.

Therefore, to go on placement or an internship that is a part of your programme, you must meet COVID-19 vaccination requirements. You can see more information on UCOL's Covid-19 page and on the Unite Against Covid-19 website.

 Course Hours & Duration

This programme runs for 41 weeks, including 7 holiday weeks.

Per week, your learning will include approximately:

Class Time
16 hrs

Lectures,tutorials and/or online recordings.
Industry Experience
7.5 hrs

Workplacement in a veterinary clinic. You should complete at least 280 hours in total as part of this programme. 
Study Time
24 hrs

Study in your own time.

Part time study option available. Talk to us about your options with this programme.

 Career & Study Outcomes

Graduates of this qualification will have technical veterinary nursing skills for a clinic environment and the ability to manage patients and clients and follow protocols in all aspects of clinical veterinary practice.

 Course Information

Note: As a subsidiary of Te Pūkenga - New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology,11 UCOL is committed to providing the best learning outcome for you. As part of this, all programmes are currently being reviewed to make them portable, consistent, and closely aligned with the needs of the industry. When published, this course information is correct, but the courses offered may change over time.

This programme consist of 120 credits. The courses includes:

Anaesthesia and Surgery (30 Credits) (75 work placement hours)
Learn how to ntensively monitor patients undergoing general anaesthesia and surgery, and to intervene appropriately. Also learn how to provide dental health care to animals.

Diagnostics A (15 Credits) (30 work placement hours)
Learn to set up, manage, run, and interpret in-house hematology, biochemistry, bacteriology, and basic cytology.

Diagnostics B (15 Credits) (35 work placement hours)
Learn how to set up, manage, run, and interpret in-house diagnostic testing, including:

  • Bacteriology
  • Mycology
  • Virology
  • Cytology
  • Parasitology
  • Clinical Pathology
  • Radiography
  • Ultrasonography
  • Blood gas analysis
  • Capnography

Medical Nursing (30 Credits) (75 work placement hours)
Learn to nurse all patients at Best Practice level, and to communicate at a professional level with colleagues. The course covers:

  • Fluid balance and physiology
  • Fluid therapy and monitoring, including interventions
  • Medical records
  • Pharmacology
  • Recovery nutrition
  • Assisted/supported feeding techniques
  • Recumbent patient care
  • Disseminated Intravascular Coagulopathy
  • Catheter care 
  • Wound care 
  • Bandaging 
  • Physical therapy 
  • Analgesia
  • Patient assessment
  • Pathophysiology of common diseases

Management of Veterinary Nursing Services A (15 Credits) (30 work placement hours)
Learn to provide medical veterinary nursing and manage veterinary nursing services. The course covers:

  • Interpersonal relations
  • Weight management
  • Behaviour
  • Complementary medicine
  • Dentistry
  • Management of patients with chronic disease

Management of Veterinary Nursing Services B (15 Credits) (35 work placement hours)
Learn how to provide medical veterinary nursing and manage veterinary nursing services. The course covers:

  • Triage
  • Interpersonal relations 
  • Weight management 
  • Animal Behaviour 
  • Preventative health
  • Reproduction and parturition
  • Complementary medicine
  • Animal Welfare
  • Animal Density
  • Management of patients with chronic disease

 Student & Staff Profiles

 Industry Connections

  • Local vet clinics
  • Veterinary Nursing Educational Standards Committee (VNESC)
  • Totally Vets
  • Southern Rangitikei Veterinary Services (SRVS)
  • Cahill Animal Hospital
  • NZ Pharmaceuticals (NZP)
  • Gribbles Veterinary, and the health and safety of others at UCOL.

 Learning Facilities

  • An animal housing facility with appropriate cages and housing for daytime housing of all animals used and onsite overnight housing facilities for some companion animals.
  • Practical handling room and mock surgery.
  • Appropriate husbandry equipment such as dog bath, feeding, grooming equipment and restraint devices.
  • A handling facility with an examination/practical room either on or offsite.
  • Access to cats, dogs, rabbits, companion animals and birds
  • Access to the science labs including
  • Microscopes and basic microbiological laboratory equipment.
  • Incubators and water baths.
  • Histology and parasitology specimens, slides and equipment.
  • Diagnostic testing equipment.
  • Anaesthetic and surgical equipment.
  • Access to the Xray labs including working Xray machines, safety equipment, grids, film, radiographic phantoms and viewing equipment

 Domestic Entry Requirements

Applicants must have completed the New Zealand Certificate in Animal Technology (Vet Nursing Assistant) or equivalent.

All applicants are required to:

  • Declare any previous criminal convictions prior to admission being confirmed. Convictions of any offence may not necessarily exclude applicants from enrolment; the decision is at the discretion of the Academic Leader; and
  • Authorise UCOL to obtain a background check from the New Zealand Police Licensing and Vetting Agency; and
  • Complete a health declaration form including tetanus status.

English language proficiency
If English is not your first language, you must also demonstrate English language skills equivalent to an IELTS overall band score (academic) of 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5 (or equivalent including TOEFL). IELTS scores used must be taken from a single IELTS Test Report Form (i.e. combining scores from more than one test is not permissible). UCOL is a TOEFL testing centre.


For more information about NCEA Credits see UCOL's NCEA explained page.

 International Entry Requirements

In addition to the Domestic Entry Requirements, the following applies to international student applicants.

English language proficiency
International student applicants whose first language is not English must have an IELTS Academic score of 6.0 with no band score lower than 5.5 (or equivalent including TOEFL). IELTS scores used must be taken from a single IELTS Test Report Form (i.e. combining scores from more than one test is not permissible). UCOL is a TOEFL testing centre.

Under 20 years of age
In addition to this, international applicants under 20 years of age must have NCEA equivalency.

 Advice & Guidance

As UCOL becomes Te Pūkenga on 1 January 2023, learners enrolling in a programme that is likely to continue into semester 1 2023 or starting in semester 1 2023 will become Te Pūkenga learners. They will receive their qualification from Te Pūkenga on completion.

To optimise chances of student success, 100% attendance is required for all practical classes and work placements.  It is also strongly recommended for all theory classes. 

Practical requirements: students must be able to carry out physical activities within the Animal Room and work placement to fulfil the requirements of the programme. Students must also have no objection to working with animals, dissection of animal body parts, body fluids and cadavers. UCOL reserves the right to decline entry to the programme should an applicant’s physical ability or squeamishness prevent them carrying out practical activities required to fulfil the requirements of the programme. These practical requirements will be discussed and confirmed by staff when contacting students.

Clinical placements
All learners are required to complete work placements of at least 280 hours in a veterinary clinic setting.  It is likely the placement will be out of the Manawatū region. Out-of-region placements are sourced by the student in consultation with the Programme Leader. Highest priority for local placement are students who are single parents of children under the age of 5. Not having a car, drivers licence or having work commitments or animals to care for is not sufficient to be considered priority for local placement. This means that you are very likely to be required to undertake your clinical placement outside the wider Manawatu region therefore you will have additional costs relating to your travel and accommodation.

Transport costs will vary according to the mode of transport and may include public transport, private car usage, and carpooling. An example of an approximate cost of petrol in a 1600cc car over 180 kilometres over five days could cost up to $80.00 or more. 

Accommodation fees 
These vary according to the types of accommodation used. Backpackers, Homestays, Student Hostels can be in the range of $50.00 - $120.00 per night. 

Recognition of prior learning
Applications for Recognition of Prior Learning, including Cross Credit, Credit Transfer and Assessment of Prior Learning may be made on the Recognition of Prior Learning Form where a student believes all learning outcomes for a course have already been met. Applications will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the UCOL Academic Statute and other relavant policies and procedures.

Application checklist
It will make the process easier if you prepare the following before you apply:

  • National Student Number (NSN) (If you don't have a NSN, you may request one from NZQA, or you can supply a verified copy of your birth certificate, passport or Whakapapa statement.)
  • Evidence of your highest level of academic achievement (and evidence of prior learning, if applicable)
  • Evidence that you meet the entry requirements of the programme
  • Check if you're eligible for additional support or a scholarship. If you're 19 years or younger, you may be eligible to enrol in one of our free Youth Transition programmes.

Note that you will need to provide any verified documents in person, via post or email (not via the online application form).

Previous related programmes

The New Zealand Diploma in Veterinary Nursing supersedes and takes the best from the following programme of study, which is no longer offered:

  • Diploma in Veterinary Nursing

 Additional Costs

Please note that there are additional costs associated with the New Zealand Diploma in Veterinary Nursing:

  • Watch for taking heart rates $20
  • Small scissors $30
  • Stethoscope $45

You may also require:

  • Plain, dark coloured, long-sleeve top
  • Navy or black trousers
  • Calculator

Text books approximately $300

  • BSAVA: Textbook of Veterinary Nursing (5th edition) by Lane, D.R., Cooper, B.C., and Turner L. (2011)
  • Dictionary of Veterinary Nursing (4th edition) by Lane, D.R. and Guthrie, S. (2007)
  • BSAVA Manual of Canine and Feline Anaesthesia and Analgesia, 3rd Edition (2016), edited by Tanya Duke-Novakovski, Marieke de Vries and Chris Seymour

You may have these textbooks already from your studies in the Level 5 programme. Older editions are acceptable.

Accomodation and transport approximately $500


The programme is approved by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority under the provisions of the Education Act 1989, and Universal College of Learning (UCOL) Trading as Universal College of Learning (UCOL) is accredited to teach it.