I am going to apply to a university in New Zealand where the university language requirement is the thing that I mentioned in the question. There are other language tests, but I took TOEFL iBT. I have 15 research articles, 7 of them published in high-ranked international journals, and have more than 10 years of research experience. The university does not want to secure a supervisor before submitting the documents, and they choose a supervisor for the candidates. I sent an email to the higher education department, but they just sent me a link containing the Ph.D. requirements that I have already studied. Can I submit the documents to compete for a Ph.D. position? My friends said try your chance and if you have good research background they might give you a position. A friend of mine who is an associate professor in Sweden says it is ok, but I do not know what to do.
You can definitely apply. They may just reject your application because you formally don't satisfy the criteria but in this case I would consider that unlikely. Both the particular department you apply to and the university administration want candidates who speak good English but for the department 'almost passed' is probably just as good as 'actually passed' for the language requirement. They care mostly about your academic skills and credentials.
If your application goes to the central administration first, there is a chance it won't even be forwarded to the department and you will be rejected outright. If the department gets your application and they want to hire you they still need to convince administration that you are a good candidate inspite of the language issue but that shouldn't be a big problem.
Yes, you can certainly apply for the Ph.D. position even if you haven't met the specific TOEFL score requirement. There is still a possibility of admission, especially if a professor is interested in your application and provides a supportive letter. Additionally, some universities may conduct interviews to assess your language skills. So, it is possible to be considered for admission, and your friend's suggestion is valid.
You most definitely should apply. As @quarague rightly said in their answer, though,
If your application goes to the central administration first, there is a chance it won't even be forwarded to the department and you will be rejected outright.
A time-tested method to prevent this from happening is to tune your application to the research interests of some of the faculty -- and to contact them directly. Doing so, put yourself in their shoes: what a faculty needs is a graduate student enthusiastic about their research and having a sufficiently strong background (which you probably have). If some of the faculty get(s) interested in you, they will make sure that your application receives full consideration, no matter what the grades.
I know cases where this strategy worked.
Wish you luck!
Just to provide a different perspective, in my department in the US, I know of a professor who couldn’t get the grad school to budge and admit someone who didn’t pass the English requirements.
Different country, probably a different field, so I recommend you get in touch with the department to learn if it is even within their power to admit someone that doesn’t meet the requirements