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Support Services for International Students

The International Office

The International Office is based in Dunedin and has a team of International Student Advisers. The advisers are available on a confidential basis to help and support international students with:

  • Cultural adjustment and homesickness
  • Family support
  • General health and well-being
  • Academic issues
  • Flatting and accommodation issues
  • Communication or forms from home governments or home universities

Advisers can refer students to other specialised services as required. To contact an adviser please email international.support@otago.ac.nz or phone 03 479 5777 or 03 479 5921

Visits to UOC

A staff member from International Student Support (ISS) visits Christchurch twice a year in March and July. ISS typically emails international students in advance of their visit to schedule appointments with students. However, students are encouraged to email international.support@otago.ac.nz at any time when they would like to talk with an adviser.

Mary Furnari is the main contact person for Christchurch students

In Christchurch, Ruth Helms (Manager, Academic Programmes) is a good first point of call and can be contacted on 03 364 0527 or by emailing ruth.helms@otago.ac.nz

Graduate Research School

The Graduate Research School (GRS) is based in Dunedin and has responsibility for leadership, oversight and policy advice in relation to doctoral degrees, as well as responsibility for providing appropriate support and guidance to graduate research candidates and their supervisors. The Doctoral and Scholarships Office, within the Graduate Research School, manages and administers the doctoral and scholarships programme.

GRS also conducts workshops for postgraduate thesis students at the Christchurch campus throughout the year. Workshops provide postgraduate students with relevant information they need as they move through their programme. You will receive emails and notices via email about workshop and seminar offerings at your campus.

Student Visa Service

The Student Visa Coordinator or a Student Adviser from the University of Otago's International Office in Dunedin will visit the Christchurch campus early March (actual day to be confirmed) and will be available to accept your application provided that you are eligible to apply through the Visa-on-Campus service.

If students do not use the Visa-on-Campus service they need apply directly to Immigration New Zealand.

Kathy Halliwell at the International Office in Dunedin is available for assistance with student visas: student.visa@otago.ac.nz

For more information refer to www.otago.ac.nz/international/visas 

Insurance Support

Studentsafe Inbound University is our recommended insurance policy. This is a comprehensive insurance policy designed and supported by all the universities in New Zealand. All international students will be charged for this insurance policy unless you have had confirmation from the University of Otago that your alternative insurance policy is compliant.

It is your responsibility as a student to understand and become familiar with the insurance policy terms and conditions.

The International Office provides an insurance support service. You can find the link to the Studentsafe Inbound University policy wording on our website www.otago.ac.nz/international/healthcare.html
Email international.insurance@otago.ac.nz
Tel 03 479 8344

Medical / Health Services

When you seek medical supportfrom a Medical Centre, Urgent Doctors or a Hospital you will be required to pay at the time of your consultation. You will then need to make a claim to be reimbursed for those costs. Please keep a copy of your medical notes/report along with your receipts.
Claim forms are available on the Studentsafe website: www.studentassist.co.nz/claims

Medical Prescriptions

If you are given a prescription from your Doctor you can take this to a pharmacy (there is one at the main entrance of Christchurch Hospital) to obtain your medication. International students will be required to pay at the time of your medical consultation and for any prescriptions, then make a claim for reimbursement. Please keep your receipts. When you make a claim you need to provide as much information as possible to support your claim such as doctor's notes and all receipts. Claim forms are available on the Studentsafe website: www.insurancesafenz.com/claims

Travel Insurance

Your Studentsafe insurance provides you with cover while travelling around New Zealand during your studies. If you are travelling outside of New Zealand please read the policy, check with the insurer or the University to see if you have cover for your trip. You may be required to arrange alternative cover.

Your cover under Studentsafe

It is your responsibility as a student to understand and become familiar with the insurance policy terms and conditions. Please ensure you have read and understood what conditions may or may not be covered by your insurance policy.

Examples of conditions/appointments that are NOT covered by your insurance policy:

  1. Pre-existing conditions
  2. Household goods and contents
  3. Car insurance
  4. Most dental care
  5. Individual property/items worth more than NZ$2,500
  6. Contraception
  7. Immigration medicals
  8. Pregnancy and childbirth
  9. Vaccinations
  10. Most health screening appointments, lab and prescription costs
  11. Claims arising directly or indirectly because you were under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs
  12. Work related injuries

Pre-existing conditions

You are not covered for pre-existing conditions under the Studentsafe Inbound University policy. Cover can be arranged in certain circumstances.

What is a pre-existing condition?

Any medical or physical condition:

  • which you were aware of, or ought to have been aware of
  • for which advice, care, treatment, medication or medical attention had been sought, given or recommended
  • which has been diagnosed as a medical condition, or a sickness or which are indicative of a sickness
  • which is of such a nature to require, or which potentially may require medical attention
  • which is of such a nature as would have caused a prudent, reasonable person to seek medical attention prior to the start of cover under this policy
  • procedure or surgery in the past even if you are no longer affected by this condition

For more information about pre-existing conditions visit www.otago.ac.nz/international/healthcare.html#preexisting

Studentsafe Mobile App

We recommend you download the Studentsafe Mobile app. It’s designed to work on all mobile devices that can access the internet.
Copy this link to download the Studentsafe Mobile app: sa.agaapps.co.nz

The link will direct you to a web page where you will be able to enter the details below

  • Your Login - this is your University Student ID number
  • Your Pin Number - this pin number is supplied with your emailed record of cover

If you have any problems, then please contact Student Assist help desk on 0800 486 004 or email help@studentassist.co.nz

Accident Insurance

In addition to your insurance cover, the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) provides comprehensive, no-fault personal injury cover for all New Zealand residents and visitors to New Zealand. You will be covered as long as the injury falls within the legislation.  www.acc.co.nz

Helpful information about the Studentsafe Policy:

Further information regarding insurance

Other support

Pastoral support

For Pastoral support your departmental staff are a good first point of call. Some departments have a Postgraduate Advisory Committee which is a good point of contact for anyone experiencing problems, needing advice or information.  

Ruth Helms (ruth.helms@otago.ac.nz) is also a contact and Mary Furnari at the International Office in Dunedin is available too and can be contacted by email at international.support@otago.ac.nz

Chaplains

The Otago chaplains are available to help anyone, regardless of faith, with issues such as homesickness or grief as well as spiritual or religious questions.

Students can also speak to Christchurch Hospital chaplains who are located on the ground floor of the Parkside building.

Prayer Space on Campus

There is a chapel within the Christchurch Hospital (ground floor, Parkside) which is used as an interfaith prayer space.

This prayer space is available for use by UOC students

Workshops

Learning support, ITS, library and research workshops are run on the Christchurch campus throughout the year. Biostatistics and computational biology consultancy for research students is also available.

PSOC: The Association for Postgraduate Students of Otago, Christchurch

As a postgraduate student studying through University of Otago, Christchurch, you are a member of PSOC.

PSOC is run by postgraduate students for postgraduate students.

Elections for PSOC Executive are held annually.

The PSOC Executive provides you with: representation, welfare, advocacy on research and educational issues, social events and networking opportunities.

Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016

The University of Otago is a signatory to the Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016 published by the Ministry of Education.

The University has agreed to observe and be bound by the Code.

The Code is a document which provides a framework for service delivery by education providers and their agents to international students.

The Code sets out the minimum standards of advice and care that are expected of educational providers with respect to international students.

The Code applies to pastoral care and provision of information only, and not to academic standards.

Copies of the Code are available on request from this Institution or from the New Zealand Ministry of Education website

Complaints processes

If you are at any stage unhappy with a University process or decision, it is important for you as an international student to follow University processes and talk with the International Office.

Procedures are available to ensure that students are able to make complaints and that complaints are responded to appropriately without prejudice to the student.

If, after following the University's processes, you are still unhappy, you can pursue an external complaint through the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA). Student can also make complaints to the Office of the Ombudsman.

Contact information

Ruth Helms
Manager, Academic Programmes
University of Otago, Christchurch
PO Box 4345, Christchurch, New Zealand
Tel 64 3 364 0527
Email ruth.helms@otago.ac.nz