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This page will be updated regularly with important news and information for supervisors of graduate research candidates.  Please bookmark it and visit frequently.

10 April 2024

Accommodation Options & Cost of Living Information for Students

Click on the links below for some useful information around accommodation options for candidates and the cost of living in New Zealand.

6 November 2023

Course Approval for 2024

Master's students need to be course approved by the department – please start looking in eVision to see who has submitted for course approval.  A reminder that start dates must be the start of a month.  If starting part way through a month (e.g. 15 February), determine with the student if it is backdated to the start of current month (e.g. 1 February) or future dated to start of next month (e.g. 1 March).

Progress reporting

Please ensure all students are having their progress meetings – remember, it is every 6 months while Provisional and then annually once Confirmed.  They are really important tools for both staff and students to reflect on past progress and to plan for the future.

Nomination of Examiners

It is advisable to start the NOE and convenors process at least 3 months in advance. It can take several weeks to confirm and approve these very important roles, which if left too late can add 3-4 weeks (sometimes longer) onto the examination period for your student.

Convenor workshop

If you are new to exam convening or a bit rusty on the process, please ensure you make time to attend the Convening doctoral examinations workshop on Thursday 7 December 9am – 12noon.
Register for the Convening doctoral examinations workshop

International students

There might be consequences for their visa or fees status if there are changes to their research situation. Please ensure they are checking in with the international office for any changes being made.

20 June 2023

International Students in NZ on a Study Visa – things you must know!

It is a requirement of Immigration New Zealand that holders of student visas must attend the campus of study and reside in the location of study endorsed on the visa, unless there are research-related reasons for absences.

Please refer to the immigration instructions which clearly state that the holder needs to attend the programme of study at all times as required, at the place of study endorsed on the visa.
Immigration instructions E3.20

While we understand that some of the research undertaken by PhD students might not be specifically campus based, it is an expectation for students to attend their programme (i.e. campus) when required.

Ultimately, a student visa or any visa is granted to someone because they have demonstrated that they have a legitimate need to be in New Zealand. If a student's programme of study does not require in-person learning (i.e. it can be delivered entirely remotely or online) then Immigration New Zealand may not grant the student a visa.

If your PhD student has a genuine research-related reason to not be based on campus, this needs to be formally approved via a CoRD (Change of Research Details) form.  If in doubt, please email with enquiries relating to the conditions associated with a student visa.

In these cases, you will also need to ensure there is a robust distance plan in place to provide adequate support and supervision for the student.

As for students residing outside of New Zealand, if they are not New Zealand citizens, please note that they will be charged international fees.  While students are permitted up to 12 months of overseas study, this is for research-related purposes only, and does not include returning home to write up.

Admissions process and guides

Are you thinking of taking on a new student? If so, please ensure that complete information is included with each application for the PhD programme so that applications can be processed in a timely fashion.

Please note that there are helpful resources available for staff:
Online approval of research degree applications – guidance

You may also find it useful to know about the process from a student perspective:
PhD application process


Application documentation should be uploaded at the start of the approval process so all approvers have access to the documents and can consider all relevant material as part of the approval process.

The Document Guide is a very valuable resource and should be bookmarked for future reference.
Document Guide (PDF)

External references

The external reference(s) must be uploaded by the supervisor or staff member (not the applicant).

Departmental support letter

The Department Support Letter is an important element of the documentation and should show the reasons why you wish this candidate to be considered for admission. If it isn't clear from their transcript how they meet the research component requirement for entry (at least 25 per cent of a year's work and minimum B+ grade), ensure you outline this in the support letter, and what steps have been taken to verify the research component (e.g. independent review of thesis or publications).

English language proficiency (ELP) requirements

If a student hasn't met the ELP requirements yet, we can issue a conditional offer or you may wish to request a formal waiver of the ELP requirements.  
English language requirements
PhD programme – English language waiver application process

You can upload this request as part of the application process, or if the student has already been given a conditional offer, please email your formal request to

Note that you cannot hold up an application purely on the basis of the student not having met the ELP requirements.

Admissions process

The admissions process is separate to the Otago Doctoral Scholarship process.  As such, the admissions process can continue while a student is still awaiting the outcome of a scholarship application. It is important to recognise that progressing an admission is not a guarantee of scholarship being awarded.  It is also not a reason to hold up an application or decline it (if the scholarship is unsuccessful).

Progress Reporting

Meetings should be held every 6 months until a PhD candidate is confirmed and then yearly.  There are some “bugs” in eVision that may mean the meeting reminders don't occur, but this shouldn't stop you holding the meetings.  If it has been a while since you met with some of your students, now is the time to get on top of that!  We are working on resolving some of the eVision issues and enhancing this process for you (such as having all the approvals online rather than signing a form!).

Finishing the Journey: Nomination of Examiners and Submissions

Please ensure students email the Student Administration – Research team ( mid-way through the month they are submitting.  This ensures all checks and balances are done prior to the submission to ensure a much smoother process for all concerned (especially the student). See:
Thesis submission for examination

This process also includes the nomination of examiners and a convenor. It is important that this process is completed as early as possible to avoid delays in having the submitted thesis examined.

Access to eVision

If you are unsure if you have the right Graduate Research access in eVision (such as Progress Reporting; Proposal Assessment; Thesis Examination) go to the “my access” container in eVision to check access and make requests.  Also check the requested page as there may be some access that is waiting for training (usually on Blackboard) to be completed.

Responsibilities of a supervisor

Please familiarise yourself with the Guidelines for Graduate Research Supervisors and ensure you are meeting expectations.
Guidelines for Graduate Research Supervisors

HEDC offers an Otago Doctoral supervision programme that includes workshops throughout the year.

Help support and nurture our Doctoral students, so they have a great experience and encourage others to come to Otago.  Provide information and support prior to them arriving on campus such as ensuring they have accommodation lined up on arrival.

13 February 2023

Supervisors: Please being this opportunity to the notice of your doctoral candidates.

23 Things International 2023 – Join this free online course that will build your research skills and networks

This unique global programme is specially tailored for researchers interested in learning new tools for research, building their professional profile, and networking. It is open to doctoral researchers, their supervisors, and academics from all disciplines.

What is it?

23T is a self-directed online programme. Each week we release two blogs – called 'Things' – covering a topic or piece of software that can enhance how you work. It's an easy way to find out the basics, with time to experiment a little and resources for taking things further when you want. Topics range from podcasting to understanding open access, crowdsourcing to publication strategy, career mapping to infographics. There is also the opportunity to build your own website and blog, which is an increasingly popular way to present your work and create public interest.

A huge benefit is that when you join the programme, we put you in a 'Pod' with about 10 other researchers from around the world. Partners this year include the universities of Surrey, Cambridge, Swansea, Royal Holloway and Kings College London (UK), University College Dublin (Ireland), University of Otago and Auckland University of Technology (New Zealand), The International College of Management Science, Sydney and Avondale University (Australia), and The University of Bahrain. We also welcome the Techne doctoral training partnership and the Africa Research Excellence Fund, connecting us with researchers across South-East England and many African countries. The Pod creates an instant network of researchers with overlapping research interests and leads to fantastic collaborations and friendships. Some of the 'Things' include small group tasks, helping you to explore topics further together.

On top of all this, the website has a forum for discussion, and we're mixing in some live events, too – cross-time-zone coffee socials and a 48-hour writing retreat.

Registration open until Friday 24 February

Registration is open now, and is open until Friday 24 February. The first 'Thing' will be released on 6 March, and you will also meet your pod that week. The course runs for 14 weeks (including two break weeks).

The time commitment is very flexible. It's designed to take about an hour a week (on average) to read the blogs and complete the small tasks, but you can tailor your involvement to suit your own interests and availability. There is no obligation to complete all the tasks, and each pod will decide how and how often they would like to meet.

At the end of the programme you can claim a certificate and digital badge. We also invite you to take part in a questionnaire and focus group, which supports our further research into online learning.

How do I join?

Register by filling in this form

Once the pods have been allocated, we'll provide you with introductions. Each pod will have a nominated chair, who is responsible for arranging the first online meeting; you can volunteer to be a chair when you register. We will also have an Engagement Mentor, whose job it is to help you meet successfully and facilitate discussions.

Subscribe to the website to make sure you receive a notification when each blog post goes live.

Or for more information, please email

Doctoral Supervision Programme

HEDC offers a suite of workshops to support University of Otago doctoral supervisors.  This year's workshops can be found in the following brochure;

The Otago Doctoral Supervision Programme (PDF)

18 January 2023

Celebrate your Doctoral Thesis Submission – Collect your Chocolate Fish and Ring the Bell!

Did you know, the tradition of collecting the gift of a delicious chocolate fish from the Graduate Research School on submission of a Doctoral thesis for examination is a decades old tradition at the University of Otago?

We now also have the new tradition of ringing the University bell which is located in the Quad behind the Clocktower Building.

View dates and times for celebration of thesis submission.

17 January 2023

Graduate Research School Manager

We are pleased to confirm the outcome of the recent appointment process for the position of Manager, Graduate Research School, following Andrew Lonie's secondment as Manager to the Ageing Well National Science Challenge.

Bronwen Stephens has accepted the position as a secondment and commenced the role on January 16.  We are absolutely delighted with this appointment – Bronwen is a well-known and respected colleague, who brings extensive skills and experience from her various roles at the University, including most recently as a Lead Administrator in Student Administration.

We look forward to working with Bronwen in her new role, providing advice and support to students and supervisors across the university.


13 January 2023

Postgraduate Research Scholarship Cost-of-Living Increases

From 1 January 2023, students on some postgraduate research scholarships received a cost-of-living increase.

For Doctoral candidates, the fulltime student stipend increased from $28,600 per annum to $30,696 per annum.

The Master's Research Scholarship stipend increased from $16,000 to $17,172 for one year of fulltime thesis enrolment.

Students currently on applicable scholarships will receive the new rate along with all new recipients.

The following scholarships will be covered by the stipend increase:

  • University of Otago Doctoral Scholarship
  • University of Otago Māori Doctoral Scholarship
  • University of Otago Pacific Islands Doctoral Scholarship
  • University of Otago City of Literature PhD Scholarship
  • University of Otago Special Health Research Council Scholarship
  • University of Otago – China Scholarship Council Doctoral Scholarship
    Partial increase to bring external funding to the same level as an Otago Doctoral Scholarship.
  • University of Otago Master's Research Scholarship
  • University of Otago Māori Master's Research Scholarship
  • University of Otago Pacific Islands Master's Research Scholarship
  • University of Otago International Master's Research Scholarship
  • Alliance Group Postgraduate Scholarship
  • Bamforth Postgraduate Scholarship
  • Bruggeman Postgraduate Scholarship in Classics
  • David Renfrew White Scholarship in Education
  • Dr Sulaiman Daud 125th Jubilee Postgraduate Scholarship
  • Duffus Lubecki Postgraduate Scholarship in Applied Science
  • Fanny Evans Postgraduate Scholarship for Women
  • James Park Scholarship
  • John Edmond Postgraduate Scholarship for Industrial Research in Chemistry
  • Macandrew-Stout Postgraduate Scholarship in Economics
  • Senior Smeaton Scholarship in Experimental Science
  • Tassell Cancer Research Scholarship

If a scholarship is not listed above, it will remain at its current rate unless otherwise advised.

9 January 2023

Māori Postgraduate Support Adviser – Dr Rachel Sizemore

Ko Hikaroroa te māunga, ko Waikouaiti te awa, ko Takitimu te waka, ko Ngāi Tahu tōku iwi, nō Ōtepoti ahau. Ko Rachel Sizemore tōku ingoa.

Kia ora. I am Rachel Sizemore, the Māori Postgraduate Support Adviser in the Graduate Research School. I am also the MAI ki Otago co-ordinator for Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga. I have scientific research background with a BSc (Otago) in Zoology and Anatomy, an MSc (Otago) in Anatomy, and a PhD (Otago) in Neuroscience. Having studied at Otago I have experience in navigating university systems as Māori. I am passionate about making sure Māori postgraduate candidates have a successful tertiary experience.

In my capacity I:

  • act as a link to the resources offered by the University;
  • offer workshops, regular research hui and seminars;
  • act in an advocacy or support person capacity;
  • offer support to individual students;
  • offer advice on scholarships and administration; and,
  • provide opportunities for Māori postgraduates to meet others.

Some of the equitable opportunities I offer include Writing Days. There are two Writing Days per month, from 9am–5pm on a Thursday and from 9am–3pm on a Friday at the University Staff Club. We provide a quiet space to write, and lunch is provided. Many students who attend find them very helpful. I hope you will encourage your Māori students to register for these.

Māori Postgraduate Workshops and Events.

I also hold two Writing Retreats per year. This year we are kicking off the new year with a Writing Retreat on campus in February. We will hold a second Retreat in November. At these retreats we often provide a small workshop. In the past we have had writing and library workshops. Again this is an opportunity for Māori students to get together and write. We can also provide travel assistance for distance students who wish to attend.

We take students to conference. In July we attend Hono MAI, a one-day online wānanga for Māori doctoral candidates involved in Mai ki Otago under the Ngā pae o te Māramatanga banner. We zoom in with other MAI sites around New Zealand for a day of seminars and online workshops. There will be guest speakers, panels and lots of interesting information to listen too. Lunch will be provided.

Finally, in November we take a group of Māori PhD candidates to the MAI Doctoral Conference. This is an excellent opportunity for our Māori doctoral candidates to attend a unique Māori-centric conference. This is year it will be hosted by Massey University. We have funding to take up to 10 PhD candidates for this 4-day conference. It is a safe space for our students to present their research and network with other Māori scholars.

If you would like more information about how I can help you help your Māori postgraduates, please contact me.

I send all Māori postgraduate students monthly panui with information on upcoming events so please encourage your Māori students to attend.

Hari tau hou ki a koutou.

Dr Rachel Sizemore

14 December 2022

Guidelines for Graduate Research Supervisors

Some of the most Frequently Asked Questions we receive at Graduate Research School include:

  • Can a new supervisor be a primary supervisor for doctoral candidates?
  • What is the recommendation on how often supervisory meetings should be held?
  • Is there guidance or a checklist on induction of new graduate research students?

Did you know there is a useful resource to guide supervisors on these, and other, important issues?

Please see the Guidelines for Graduate Research Supervisors

30 November 2022

Tuition fees for international candidates overseas

International candidates currently enrolled in doctoral studies outside New Zealand should be aware that, from 1 March 2023, tuition fees will be charged at the international fee rate, unless they have obtained off campus approval for approved research related purposes. The University of Otago is required by its funder, the Tertiary Education Commission, to restore this policy, which existed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Students with University of Otago Doctoral Scholarships should be aware that the scholarship will only cover tuition fees at the domestic rate. If they are overseas for non-research purposes, such as writing-up their thesis from their home country, they will need agreement from the University to continue holding scholarship tenure, and even if continued tenure is granted, these students will need to self-fund the difference between the domestic tuition fee rate covered by the scholarship and the international tuition fee rate.  Please note that this difference may constitute a significant sum of money.

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