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Category Research
Type Policy
Approved by Council, 12 August 2008
Date Policy Took Effect 1 September 2008
Last approved revision 26 August 2022
Sponsor Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise)
Responsible officer Dean, Graduate Research School


This policy has been developed in response to the University of Otago's belief in the value of internationalisation, and particularly as a result of the initiative of the Government of France, concerning the creation of a procedure for the joint supervision of doctoral candidates between universities.

The purpose of this policy is to outline the processes governing PhD programmes that are jointly supervised in collaboration with a designated overseas partner university (it is not available for Masters' programmes). Such PhD programmes will be known as Cotutelle de Thèse.

Organisational scope

This policy applies University-wide.


Cotutelle de Thèse
(French term meaning “co-tutoring of a Thesis” and abbreviated in this document to cotutelle)
PhD programmes that are jointly supervised in collaboration with a designated overseas partner university.



  1. It is intended that cotutelle arrangements will be an expression of ongoing, strategically driven research collaboration between Otago and the partner university. Cotutelle arrangements will be established only where there is evidence that the collaboration provides educational and professional benefit to candidates and draws on existing research relationships that are of strategic interest to Otago. There should be evidence of established and substantial research collaboration between Otago and the proposed partner institution.
  2. Cotutelle arrangements are primarily a means for promoting research, not a process for recruiting doctoral candidates. The initiative for such arrangements is therefore not taken by a candidate. Rather the objective is to allow collaborative research teams from Otago and a partner university, that have found a high calibre PhD candidate, to propose jointly to their respective universities that a cotutelle project be established.

2. Criteria for Establishing a Cotutelle Arrangement

  1. While it is not necessary for an institution-to-institution collaboration agreement to already be in place in order to establish a cotutelle arrangement, the proposed supervisors must provide evidence that ongoing and sustained research collaboration has taken place and is sufficient to support a PhD candidate.
  2. A cotutelle arrangement may only be established with the approval of the Joint Administrators (as defined in clause 4 (a)) after consultation with the relevant Pro- and Deputy Vice-Chancellors or equivalent senior officers at each institution. The Otago Graduate Research Committee must be satisfied that the collaboration will provide educational and professional benefits to PhD candidates and is consistent with the strategic directions of the University of Otago.
  3. A proposed cotutelle arrangement must be approved by the Head of the relevant department or school at the University of Otago.
  4. The University of Otago Graduate Research Committee must agree that there is an appropriate level of research collaboration, infrastructure support, and capacity for continuity of doctoral supervision at each university before approving a cotutelle arrangement.
  5. Due consideration must be given to the climate change impact of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with any additional travel required due to a cotutelle arrangement.

3. Principles Governing Cotutelle Arrangements

  1. A formal cotutelle agreement must be drawn up between the two participating institutions in respect of each candidate. It will detail the particular arrangements pertaining to that particular candidate, including time to be spent at the two universities.
  2. All the normal regulatory requirements for an Otago PhD degree must be met in every respect.
  3. Throughout the cotutelle arrangement, the candidate will continue to be enrolled as a full-time PhD candidate at the University of Otago and is therefore subject to the University of Otago's regulations, rules, and policies.
  4. The primary supervisor must be a University of Otago staff member.
  5. The candidate must be accepted for admission at the University of Otago prior to the establishment of a cotutelle arrangement.
  6. A cotutelle arrangement must be proposed by the candidate's Otago supervisor and be formally established no later than the end of the first year of enrolment. Cotutelle agreements normally take effect from the beginning of a candidate's enrolment.
  7. The Otago Administrator will set out in a letter to the candidate all of the special arrangements that will apply to their cotutelle. This will include: a copy of the cotutelle agreement; the names of the supervisors and the Joint Administrators; the periods to be spent at each university; and other relevant matters.
  8. The cotutelle candidate will comply with Otago's progress reporting requirements as specified in the Handbook for PhD Study.
  9. Departmental resources to support the candidate and the research project, including travel, must be in place before the establishment of the cotutelle arrangement. Measures must be in place to minimise the climate change impact of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with travel.
  10. There is to be a single examination process, the successful outcome of which would be the award of the PhD from the University of Otago although the partner university may wish to also award a separate degree. The University of Otago will not award a double-badged (joint) degree.

4. Joint Administrators

  1. The Dean of the Graduate Research School at Otago and their counterpart holding this position at the partner university will act as Joint Administrators of the cotutelle arrangement.
  2. The Joint Administrators will share responsibility for ensuring that the conditions necessary for the continued operation of the candidate's cotutelle arrangement are satisfied.
  3. Should the progress of the cotutelle candidate fall below a satisfactory level, the Joint Administrators will consult. The Joint Administrators may recommend that: the candidature may continue with conditions; the candidate should transfer to an appropriate programme at one or the other university; or the candidature should terminate.
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