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COVID-19 information for students

Whakamahukitanga mo te Mate Kurahauao – Mō ngā tauira

New Zealand is no longer using the Traffic Light alert system.

Removal of COVID‑19 restrictions

Updated: 23 September 2022

Message from the Vice-Chancellor

Tēnā koutou,

Following Government advice, University of Otago senior leadership have made the following decisions regarding COVID‑19 across our institution.

The COVID‑19 Protection Framework (traffic lights) has been removed by the Government. All vaccination mandates have been removed by the Government from midnight on 26 September, 2022. This will apply across the University.


  • Masks continue to be required by students and staff in health settings. For our staff and students delivering or studying in health areas, health settings include hospitals, GPs including Student Health, clinical providers (with the exception of mental health clinics), pharmacies, community/iwi health providers and aged cared and disability-related residential facilities. More clarity on this requirement is expected over the next week or so.
  • The University is also maintaining the mandatory requirement for staff (and students where relevant) in the following groups to wear masks:
    • Staff in Disability Information and Support, as these staff work closely with students at higher risk of severe illness from COVID‑19
    • Researchers (staff and students) working with populations at higher risk of severe illness from COVID‑19 (e.g. people with disabilities or cancer patients)
    • Researchers (staff and students) involved in studying the COVID virus itself
  • The Government does not require masks in tertiary education settings outside of the above.

However, the University continues to highly recommend the use of masks in teaching spaces and settings where physical distancing is difficult to achieve.

They can also always be worn by those who feel more comfortable doing so and we would ask that decision to be respected by our community.


  • The University strongly recommends that all staff and students who are unwell, particularly those who have cold or flu-like symptoms, stay away from campus until they are well. This means that staff will be required to continue to provide teaching to students who have to miss classes due to illness.
  • The Government still requires confirmed COVID‑19 cases to self-isolate for seven days. Any household contact is asked to get tested for the first five days and wear a mask when outside the house.

Wellington campus information

At Wellington Hospital, including in the Ward Support Block, and WellSleep:

  • Wearing a medical mask is still mandatory in clinical and patient care environments. As the public need to wear a medical mask when visiting our health facilities, staff and students should also wear one when in these facilities.
  • Masks may be removed in individual offices and dining areas.

At our Brandon Street and Hanson Street buildings, as these are open plan office environments:

  • Use of masks is still encouraged but not mandatory.
  • Mask wearing is particularly recommended when working in close proximity with others or when large groups of people are meeting in confined spaces (e.g. in one of the meeting rooms).

In our teaching spaces, including use of rooms at Hanson Street for teaching and in our prefabs in the top carpark at Wellington Hospital:

  • Use of masks is highly recommended, particularly where physical distancing is difficult to achieve, in line with University guidelines.

For all staff and students:

  • Please respect other people's decision to wear masks.
  • Please carry a mask at all times, so you can put one on as needed, particularly in our clinical environments.

Christchurch campus information

In non-clinical/non-public areas, including the main University of Otago, Christchurch, building, staff and students can use their judgement on the use of mask wearing according to the circumstances. For example, people gathering in larger groups that share a confined indoor space, where there is limited ventilation and limited physical distancing, are strongly encouraged to wear a mask. People sharing an office or meeting room with someone who is more vulnerable to infection or immunocompromised, are also strongly advised to wear a mask.

In line with Whatu Ora Waitaha guidelines, when in the hospital, primary care settings or a University of Otago, Christchurch Clinical Research Centre with patients:

  • Wearing a medical mask is still mandatory in clinical/patient care environments.
  • As the public need to wear a medical mask when visiting our health facilities, staff (and students where relevant) should also wear one when in these facilities.
  • Please be respectful towards people who continue to wear a mask in a non-clinical setting. It is recommended that you always carry a mask, so you can put one on as needed.
  • *For Specialist Mental Health staff and students: in all inpatient areas and areas where consumers are receiving care (i.e. community appointments, home-visits, transporting people) staff and students are strongly encouraged to wear a surgical mask. This is for staff, student and consumer protection. Discretion may be applied in cases where masks impair your ability to communicate effectively.

Ngā mihi,
Professor David Murdoch

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International students

New Zealand's borders are open. Visa applications to study in New Zealand are open.

The University of Otago warmly welcomes new and returning international students from across the globe.

Study options, applying and preparing for Otago

Information about international student study options, applying, preparing for Otago and contact details are found on our International Students webpages.

Travel information

Travel information is found on the New Zealand Government COVID-19 website. 

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Postgraduate students

Graduate research candidates

The University of Otago is working to support its graduate research candidates as the complex situation following the COVID‑19 outbreak develops.

COVID‑19 information for graduate research candidates

Taught postgraduate students

This information is for postgraduate students undertaking research dissertations, projects, or creative research components for their degrees. These tend to be 40–60 points in taught postgraduate programmes (but are sometimes worth fewer points), and are core components in some honours degrees, postgraduate diplomas, and taught masters’ degrees.

COVID-19 information for taught postgraduate students

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Support for students

You should continue to contact AskOtago for advice and assistance if you need welfare support due to contracting COVID.

These services are available for you to access online:


If you are a Student isolating due to COVID-19 you can request a food/care package to help you get through.

Request a care package

Support services available in the community

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Important phone numbers

Visit for ongoing updates