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COVID-19 information for new international students

Kōrero mā ngā tauira nō tāwāhi mō te Mate Korona-19

Move to Alert Level 1

8 June 2020, 4:38pm

The Prime Minister announced this afternoon that New Zealand will move to Alert Level 1 at midnight tonight (Monday, 8 June), noting the good news that the country has eliminated the transmission of the virus for now.

An update on what this means in practice for the University will be shared this week following government advice. The change in Alert Level will not affect the current semester 1 examinations, which will continue to be delivered online.

Updates will be shared by email and at

Information for new international students – semester 2, 2020

This information is for new international students due to start studies in semester 2, 2020, in the following types of study:

  • Bachelors’ degrees
  • Exchange
  • Study Abroad
  • Postgraduate certificates
  • Postgraduate diplomas
  • Coursework (taught) masters’ degrees

If you are an international student due to commence a PhD or a research master’s thesis, please instead refer to the Graduate Research School information page.

New Zealand context

New Zealand has been fortunate in terms of the health impact of COVID‑19. Academics from The University of Otago have played a key role in advising our government’s public health response.

Currently the New Zealand border remains closed and it is likely the border will continue to stay closed for some time.

Teaching delivery

The University of Otago will provide both on‑campus and online delivery of teaching for the remainder of 2020.

New international students who are not able to join us on campus will be able to study semester 2 online and plan to join on campus once border restrictions and student visa processing enables you to do so.

A mix of teaching methods will be used to support students who are unable to attend classes in person. This will vary depending on the paper and composition of the class in terms of online and offline needs. For instance this may include recordings of lectures, online streams for tutorials or laboratories, or online office hours to meet with academics, as examples.

Completing your enrolment

For students with offers of place for semester 2, 2020, the following steps need to be completed for enrolment and access to online studies:

  • Accept offer via eVision account
  • All new students need to register for orientation as soon as possible (see below)

If you need assistance, please contact AskOtago:



All new international students need to attend orientation as soon as possible, even if you will be studying your first semester from overseas, as this triggers the next steps in completing your enrolment.

International orientation webpage

Once you have registered for orientation, someone from Otago will be in contact to confirm the next steps required according to your personal circumstances.

Academic support services

Enrolled students who are offshore and studying online will have access to University resources such as student email, library resources, etc.

Students also have access to the Student Learning Development services that are there to support you with improving academic study skills:

Student Learning Development website

International student support services

Enrolled international students who are offshore and commencing studies online will have access to the International Student Support team services, including one‑to‑one, online appointments and the International Café virtual meet-ups.

You will also have access to our Student Visa Team for support.


For students who are currently offshore and will start studies online for semester 2, you do not need to apply for accommodation at this time. When border restrictions ease and student visas are able to be processed, information about next steps for accommodation will be available.

If you are already in New Zealand and planning to study on campus, then you should apply for accommodation for semester 2 as soon as possible.

Student accommodation website


It is possible to defer to semester 1, 2021.

Please contact International Admissions for further advice and assistance:


Tuition fee policy

You can start your semester 2 studies online and withdraw from studies with a full tuition refund, if you delete papers by 24 July 2020.

If you initially start studies online, but wish to instead defer to semester 1, 2021, you will receive a full tuition refund if you inform the University by 24 July 2020.


If you are currently offshore, you can study online with the University of Otago without first obtaining a student visa. However, you still need to complete all other enrolment steps including:

  • Selection of papers
  • Payment of tuition fees
  • Attending the online orientation

Once border restrictions ease and Immigration New Zealand is able to process student visas, enrolled students who are offshore and studying online can start making plans to join us on campus, when practical.

If you start your studies online, then later apply for a student visa but it is not granted, you can complete the semester with us online and receive achieved academic credits.

If you are already in New Zealand and will start studies with us in semester 2, 2020, you must have an appropriate visa for the duration of studies with us. The Student Visa Team is available to support you:


Study Abroad students

If you were due to undertake a Study Abroad semester at the University of Otago in semester 2, 2020, but your institute has since cancelled the programme, you do not need to cancel your admission with us.

If you are eager to defer your Study Abroad with the University of Otago to semester 1, 2021, please inform your home institute / Study Abroad provider and also contact us:


Should you have additional questions not answered in the above information, please contact AskOtago:


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Information for international applicants for semester 1 studies 2021

The University of Otago is accepting and processing applications from international students seeking to commence studies in Semester 1, 2021 (February 2021).

New Zealand has been fortunate in terms of the health impact of COVID‑19. Academics from The University of Otago have played a key role in advising our government’s public health response.

The University of Otago has remained open throughout semester 1, 2020 with online delivery of teaching.

We will offer both on campus and online teaching for semester 2, 2020.

Currently, the New Zealand border remains closed, but we will update this information once the situation changes. We look forward to welcoming international students who wish to start studies with us in 2021.

Meet us

The University of Otago participates in selected online and in-person education fairs and events around the world to meet with students considering their future study options.

At these events, you can talk with our international recruitment staff for personal guidance about study options, how to apply, scholarships, accommodation, and life at Otago.

Meet the University of Otago in your country


The University of Otago offers a range of international scholarships for 2021 at undergraduate, postgraduate, and English / Foundation pathway levels.

Scholarships for international students

English language tests

The University of Otago is currently accepting additional English language proficiency tests due to COVID‑19 impact on normal testing centres.

English language requirements

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