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COVID-19 information for new international students currently offshore

Important admission updates for 2021 applicants and offer holders

New Zealand borders and visa processing

New Zealand’s borders are currently closed, except for New Zealand citizens and permanent residents.

Unfortunately new international students will not be able to enter New Zealand in time for studies in Semester 1 2021. This is because the border is closed and Immigration New Zealand is not currently processing offshore visa applications until May 2021 at the earliest.

It remains unclear if any new international students will be able to enter New Zealand in time for studies in semester 2 (July) 2021.

The New Zealand government is regularly reviewing the border situation.

The University of Otago continues to monitor and respond to any Government updates. This includes recent announcements for the managed return of current PhD students and for the managed return of 1,000 international students who began their studies here but were caught offshore when border restrictions began.

The University of Otago is liaising with key government departments to work through the details of the announcements and will be making direct contact with relevant students who meet the criteria for a managed return.

There are a number of details to work through following this announcement, and once Government provides us with further guidance the University will be in direct contact with students who we believe meet this criteria.

Immigration New Zealand COVID-19 updates

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Online education offer for 2021

The University of Otago has expanded its delivery options for coursework programmes for the 2021 academic year, in recognition of the impact of COVID-19 on our students. While Otago’s primary teaching mode is via face-to-face learning on-campus, in 2021 there will be three delivery options for eligible students:

  1. On-campus
  2. Distance learning – existing programmes and papers designed to be delivered by distance learning: otago.ac.nz/courses/distance_study/otago002148.html
  3. Online - a selection of papers and programmes 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: otago.ac.nz/coronavirus/otago743194.html

Applications continue to be accepted for all online study and distance taught options in 2021. We encourage you to apply as early as possible. You do not require a visa to commence studies online.

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Scholarships for online study – BA, BCom, and BACom

The University of Otago is pleased to advise that international offshore applicants who are admitted to start full-time studies in 2021 online in either the Bachelor of Commerce (BCom), Bachelor of Arts (BA), or Bachelor of Arts and Commerce (BACom) programmes will receive a Vice Chancellor’s Scholarship for International Students (Online) valued at NZ$10,000.

The scholarship will be credited to the student’s 2021-tuition fees account.

Please observe that not all majors (main subject of study) of the BCom and BA are available online. Please refer to the available online study options for 2021.

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Scholarships for online study – masters’ degrees and postgraduate diplomas

The University of Otago is pleased to advise that international offshore applicants who are admitted to start full-time studies in 2021 online in any of the available online master’s degrees or postgraduate diplomas will be considered for a merit-based Otago International Excellence Scholarship (Online), valued at NZ$10,000.

Go to the full list of available online options

The scholarship will be credited to the student’s 2021-tuition fees account.

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Online English Language and Foundation Year Studies and Scholarships

The University of Otago Language Centre and Foundation Year offers online delivery of the Foundation Year Certificate as well as several English language options, including:

  • English for Otago
  • General English
  • IELTS preparation
  • English for Academic Purposes

You find the details for these online options here.

Scholarships are also available for students who are admitted for these online programmes, including the NZ$4,000 Pathway Scholarship for Foundation Year.

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Why study online?

Studying online with the University of Otago allows you to commence your studies as planned. By studying online, you will have access to our academic support unit, comprehensive library services, online resources, our international student support team services, and the opportunity to develop your international network with both other online learners and those students studying on campus.

By studying online, you will have the status of a current student of the University of Otago and will be among our priority student groups to bring into New Zealand as soon as we are able to.

Should the New Zealand borders not reopen during 2021 or in early 2022, we will make contact directly with you to discuss your academic options for 2022. This will include – if required – a limited number of further online papers that will enable you to continue studying online.

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Visas and online study

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

  • Selection of papers – special instructions will be provided for online students
  • Payment of tuition fees
  • Attending the online orientation

Please note that an appropriate visa will be required to enter New Zealand to join us on campus, once border restrictions ease.

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Study abroad 2021

Unfortunately Study Abroad students will not be able to enter New Zealand in time for studies in semester 1 2021. This is because the border is closed and Immigration New Zealand is not currently processing visas until May 2021 at the earliest.

It remains unclear if Study Abroad students will be able to enter New Zealand in time for studies in semester two (July) 2021.  This will depend on the border reopening in the near future, and Immigration New Zealand resuming visa processing for this cohort of students. As such, applications for semester two Study Abroad (July 2021) will not be processed until we have more information regarding the border and visa processing situation. Please also observe that the University of Otago has paused the usual accommodation guarantee for Study Abroad students for 2021 due to the uncertainties of the border situation.

For partners with students who are interested in our English language and Study Abroad package (a popular option for our partners in East Asia), it is possible to commence study plans in semester 1, 2021 with online English language studies through the University of Otago English Language Centre, followed by a potential on-campus study abroad semester 2, 2021. This arrangement is subject to border and visa processing allowing you to enter New Zealand.  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.

Please 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 confirmed 2021 online papers.

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Student exchange 2021

The University of Otago is not accepting inbound international exchange students for semester 1 2021. This is because the border is closed and Immigration New Zealand is not currently processing visas until May 2021 at the earliest.

It currently remains unclear if exchange students will be able to enter New Zealand in time for studies in semester two (July) 2021. This will depend on the border reopening in the near future, and Immigration New Zealand resuming visa processing for this cohort of students.

Online options for a virtual exchange semester may be made available for semester 2.

Please contact the exchange/international office at your home institute for any additional updates from Otago.

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PhD and research Master’s

Applications for PhD and Master’s thesis 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.

For prospective PhD candidates – information for international students currently offshore regarding the admission processes.

For prospective Master’s thesis students – information about admission.

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Bachelors, masters, postgraduate studies

The University of Otago continues to welcome and accept applications from international students for studies at Bachelors, Honours, Masters and Postgraduate Certificate/Diploma levels.

If you have previously applied for studies commencing in semester 1 2021 or semester 2 2021, please refer to the important updates for 2021 applicants and offer holders. New applications for 2021

Offers for online studies and offers for applicants already in New Zealand are being processed as quickly as possible as a priority.

Regarding on-campus only studies, please note that we are not currently making offers for studies commencing in semester 1 (February) 2021. This is because the New Zealand border is closed and Immigration New Zealand will not be processing offshore visa applications until at least May 2021.

Regarding on-campus only studies, we are not currently making offers for studies commencing in semester 2 (July) 2021 until we have more information about the border and visa processing situation and if any cohorts of new students will be able to enter the country in time for the semester start.

New applications for 2022

New applicants seeking to apply for studies commencing in semester 1, 2022 will be able to apply from 1 May 2021 through our eVision application system.

Explore our undergraduate subjects

Explore our postgraduate subjects and qualifications

Additional application information

We encourage you to submit a complete application, supplying all required information and documentation, as this will allow us to process these applications and issue an offer of place in the timeliest manner.

The University of Otago is currently accepting additional English language proficiency tests due to COVID 19 impact on normal testing centres for applicants who are offshore.

English language requirements

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Meet us

The University of 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

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A video message from the Vice-Chancellor

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Visit otago.ac.nz/coronavirus for ongoing updates.