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COVID-19 information for new international students currently offshore

Pārongo KOWHEORI-19 mā ngā tauira hou nō tawāhi kei tāwāhi tonu

New Zealand borders and visa processing

The University of Otago welcomes the recent Government announcement (24 November 2021) that New Zealand will begin allowing fully-vaccinated foreign nationals (including international students with visas valid for travel) to return from 30 April 2022 onwards in a staged reopening. It is currently unclear what this announcement will mean for individual students and we are awaiting further advice from the Government on this. The New Zealand Government has indicated that it will release further details on the reopening in the next 4–6 weeks, and until then we are not in a position to provide any specific advice or information. Although this further delay is frustrating, we look forward to welcoming back many of our international students in 2022–2023.

In the meantime, New Zealand’s borders are currently closed, except for New Zealand citizens, permanent residents, or those able to enter the country through specific border exemptions such as the returning student cohorts. All eligible students in those cohorts have been contacted directly.

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Undergraduate and coursework postgraduate programmes

Applications open

Otago continues to welcome applications from international students at all levels of study. Due to the current border and immigration restrictions in place, unfortunately international students will not be able to commence studies on campus in time for the start of semester 1 – February 2022.

Depending on their programme of choice, applicants will be:

  • Offered an offshore study option – online or distance learning, or
  • Deferred until the next available on-campus intake, which may be semester 2 – July 2022, or semester 1 – February 2023

Your study options will be discussed with you and your offer will reflect the next available intake for your programme.

Offshore study options

While Otago’s primary teaching mode is via face-to-face learning on-campus, the University offers offshore students two alternative delivery options for undergraduate and postgraduate studies:  

  1. Distance learning – existing programmes and papers designed to be delivered by distance learning.
    Learn more about distance learning, including how distance learning works, what programmes are available, and how to enrol.
  2. Online learning – a selection of programmes and papers that would normally only be delivered on-campus will be temporarily delivered online in order to support students that are unable to attend classes in person due to COVID‑19.
    Learn more about online learning

Applications for study starting in semester 1 – February 2022 close on 10 December 2021.

Scholarships for on-campus and offshore study

Bachelor’s scholarships

International students admitted to a full-time, full-year Bachelor’s degrees in 2022 or 2023 will receive a Vice Chancellor’s Scholarship for International Students valued at NZ$10,000.

This applies to:

  • Offshore students who are admitted to start an Online or Distance programme
  • Students who are able to join us on campus when the border restrictions allow

The scholarship will be credited to the student’s tuition fees account.

Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship for International Students

Postgraduate scholarships

International students admitted to an eligible Master’s or Postgraduate Diploma programme in 2022 or 2023 will be considered for a merit-based Otago International Excellence Scholarship, valued at NZ$10,000.

This applies to:

  • Offshore students who are admitted to start an eligible online or distance programme
  • Students who are able to join us on campus when border restrictions allow

The scholarship will be credited to the student’s tuition fees account.

Otago International Excellence Scholarship

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PhD and research thesis master's studies

Applications open

Applications for PhD and research thesis master’s studies are open throughout the year – there is no specific application period or deadline to apply.

Remote starts for PhD applicants currently offshore may be an option in some cases.


The University of Otago Doctoral Scholarship includes a NZ$27,000 stipend per annum plus a domestic tuition fees waiver for up to 36 months (excludes student services fee and insurance). Scholarship applications are being accepted and processed for remote-start students, but conditions apply.

University of Otago Doctoral Scholarship

Important information for offshore prospective research students

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English Language and Foundation Studies Certificate

Applications open

To enable students to continue to prepare for their University-level study, Otago offers the Foundation Studies Certificate online, as well as several English language programmes.

More information about these online programmes

Foundation Studies Certificate scholarships

International offshore applicants who are admitted to the Foundation Studies Certificate online in 2022, will receive an Otago International Pathway Scholarship. The scholarship will be credited to the student’s tuition fees account.

Otago International Pathway Scholarship

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Student exchange

The University of Otago is not currently accepting on-campus international exchange students for semester 1 – February 2022 – except from Australia – due to New Zealand border and immigration restrictions.

We welcome exchange nominations for virtual exchange in semester 1 2022. Students must take a full course load at Otago. Please note that only a select number of courses are available for virtual exchange.

Please contact the exchange/international office at your home institution for information about virtual exchange at Otago or any additional updates. We look forward to resuming our full in-person international student exchange programme with partners across the globe as soon as this becomes practical.

Student exchange with Australian partners

The University of Otago welcomes exchange students from Australia planning for an exchange in 2022, provided students understand that:

  • The exchange will only progress if the trans-Tasman bubble is in place when the exchange starts
  • Should the trans-Tasman bubble close at the end of your exchange, students must ensure that they have additional funds available to stay in New Zealand should their departure be delayed
  • Should there be a change in border requirements students will be responsible for any and all costs to return to Australia
  • Students must purchase a suitable insurance policy to cover health and travel while on exchange in New Zealand

Students currently enrolled at one of our partner universities in Australia are encouraged to contact the exchange/international office at your home university to find out about options to plan your exchange at Otago.

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Study abroad

Due to New Zealand’s current border and immigration restrictions, unfortunately we are unable to welcome our regular cohorts of Study Abroad students for semester 1 – February 2022.

Please also observe that the University of Otago has paused the usual accommodation guarantee for Study Abroad students for all of 2022 due to the uncertainties of the border situation.

For partners with students seeking to study our English language and Study Abroad package, it is possible to commence study plans during 2022 with online English language studies available through the English Language Centre, followed by a potential on-campus Study Abroad semester once borders and visa processing allows. A selection of online options for a virtual study abroad semester will be made available should it not be possible to arrive on campus following the online English component.

Study Abroad partners interested in a virtual Study Abroad semester are invited to contact our International Office for more information.

Students are encouraged to contact the study abroad office at your home institution to find out more about your home institution's study abroad plans and any additional updates from Otago.

For students who are offshore and interested in studying individual papers online as an independent student, you can refer to our list of online papers.

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Need help?

Meet us

Otago participates in selected online and in-person education fairs and events around New Zealand and 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 a representative from the University of Otago

Get in touch

No question is too big or too small for our friendly AskOtago team. For any questions about studying at Otago:

Complete our online form, or

Have an offer?

If you have an offer to study at Otago for 2022, visit our Prepare for Otago pages to ensure you are ready for Otago.

Prepare for Otago

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