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Earthquake Affected Students Welcome at Otago

Student looking away smiling

Thursday 3 March 2011 2:05pm

The University of Otago has extended its deadline for new enrolments until next Friday, 11 March. This is to allow Canterbury students affected by the earthquake to undertake their 2011 studies at Otago should they wish to do so.

Announcing the decision, Vice-Chancellor Professor David Skegg said it was important that students understood that they are able and most welcome to recommence their earthquake-disrupted study at the University of Otago.

“While some students may decide to move to Australia, there has been an unfortunate impression created that New Zealand universities are not willing or able to respond to the needs of the many hundreds of students whose lives and studies have been so disrupted by the tragic events in Christchurch. This is simply not the case.”

“Here at Otago, we are already meeting the needs of some 50 international students transferring from Canterbury, and have been accepting a small but steady stream of domestic students since last week. These students have received assistance in securing suitable accommodation, as well as pastoral support appropriate to their circumstances. They are now settling into study, along with the thousands of other new and returning students on our Dunedin campus.”

Otago’s standard close-off date for enrolments in semester one was Friday 4 March, and the decision to extend it by a week has been made in recognition of the special circumstances facing students caught up in the earthquake’s aftermath.

“The message we have been getting from many of those who have contacted us so far is that they need a little more time to make up their minds about what to do next in terms of university study. That is understandable given the events they have been through.”

Professor Skegg, who will step aside from his position as Vice-Chancellor later this year, is supported in his decision to extend the enrolment deadline by Professor Vernon Squire, Otago’s Deputy-Vice Chancellor (Academic and International), and the incoming Vice-Chancellor, Professor Harlene Hayne.

“Otago is not seeking any commitment from transferring students about the length of time that they study here, beyond a minimum of the first semester of this year,” said Professor Hayne, who is the University’s current Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise). “Our expectation is that many students will wish to come here on an interim basis, and that is fine.”

“We extend the warmest welcome to students who wish to come here, and can assure them that they can expect an equally heartfelt welcome from Otago students. The plight of Christchurch has been upmost in our minds since last Tuesday, and our Dunedin students have already been providing support to Christchurch from afar by preparing literally thousands of packed lunches for the ‘student army’ that has been assisting with earthquake relief in the city.”

The University of Otago Dunedin information and call centres will remain open over the weekend to take enquiries from earthquake-affected students. As well as providing enrolment advice and accommodation and pastoral support, Otago will make transitional arrangements so that transferring students are not required to pay Otago fees until they have completed withdrawals and received refunds from their previous institution.

Entry to Otago under this initiative will be contingent on students meeting the University’s normal academic entry criteria.

A key development that made it possible for Otago to extend its enrolment deadline was yesterday’s confirmation from Government that the usual 103% cap tolerance on domestic student enrolments would be waived for 2011 for institutions which accept additional students as a result of the earthquake. While Otago will receive no additional Government funding for taking additional students, this means that the University will not face a possible penalty should taking those students place it in breach of its 2011 enrolment cap.

Otago will also continue to work with Canterbury and Lincoln Universities to ensure that the particular needs of international students are appropriately met.



Professor Vernon Squire
Deputy-Vice Chancellor (Academic and International)
University of Otago

To arrange an interview with Professor Squire please contact:

Megan McPherson
Head of Communications
University Of Otago
Mobile 021 2795452

Note to reporters

Earthquake-affected students wishing to contact Otago regarding study options can do so by phone on 0800 80 80 98 or call in person to the Information Centre in the University’s Central Library Link Building.