AUT was established as Auckland Technical School in 1895. During the initial days the university used to offer evening classes only. Daytime classes started in 1906 and the name was changed to Auckland Technical College. In 1913 it was again renamed to Seddon Memorial Technical College. During early 1960s there were educational reforms which resulted in the separation of secondary and tertiary teaching and consequently two educational establishments were established with the name Auckland Technical Institute in 1963 while the secondary school continued with the same name. For the next three years they co-existed on the same location, but after 1964 the secondary school was moved to a new location in Western Springs and eventually it became the Western Springs College. In 1989 it became Auckland Institute of Technology (AIT). The university status was granted in 2000. The University was accepted a member of the Association of Commonwealth Universities in 2000 with its new programs were now subject to quality assurance by the Committee on University Academic Programme. AUT saw 40% growth in international students compared with the last year, as more than 1,481 international students were admitted from 55 countries. The university joined the Global University Alliance to deliver university-level, online learning internationally. It became the first New Zealand University to offer online admission system. In order to achieve rapid growth, the institution has been allocated a fund of $160 million.
The university offers UG and PG including PhD and Master Degrees, as well as sub-degree courses such as diplomas and certificates. The courses are offered in the areas of applied sciences, art and design, business, business information systems, communication studies, computer and information sciences, education, engineering, health care practice, hospitality and tourism, languages, law, mathematical science, midwifery, nursing, occupational therapy, oral health and para-medicine along with emergency management. The other courses that are offered in the university include physiotherapy, podiatry, psychology, psychotherapy, public health, rehabilitation and occupation, studies and social science with sport and recreation.
AUT’s Business School is known as one of the top business schools in the world according to the reports of Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International. Being a new university, it came in eighth place in the 2006 Performance-Based Research Fund round but since then it has improved very much. AUT has alliances with some of the world's leading universities for research and exchanges. This is also one of main reason behind the growth of AUT.
AUT has established many new research centers and institutes in 2016 which brings the total number to more than 60, hence covering a wide range of streams., AUT's quality-assured research outputs increased by 9% in 2016 to more than 2000 outputs which also includes publication in renowned international journals. The university also offers the facility of part time jobs on the campus to support the financial needs of the international students.