Making the decision to study in another country is never an easy one.
Choosing to relocate across the world at postgraduate level can be even more complex, and often involves not only the potential student, but also partners and children.
The University of Otago prides itself on the number of students from 100 different countries who do make this decision every year, with international students now comprising a significant proportion of the total postgraduate student cohort.
Partly driven by the large numbers of international students undertaking PhD study at Otago (over 500 last year), our overall international postgraduate numbers have risen 100% from 2006 to 2012.
Some of them choose Otago because of a particular programme, some because of a specific supervisor's expertise, while for others it is the ability to study at a world-class university in a beautiful part of the world that is the deciding factor. Whatever the reason, those students make an important contribution to the research of the University, with many laboratories and research programmes almost totally reliant on attracting quality students from around the globe.
They also contribute to the vibrancy and culture of not only the University, but also the wider Dunedin, Wellington and Christchurch communities where our campuses are based. Later, those same students become an important part of the Otago alumni network, which now expands into all parts of the globe.
The current NZ government policy enabling international doctoral candidates to receive the same benefits as their domestic counterparts (including tuition fees, and access to schooling and health services for dependents) has undoubtedly contributed to the growth in international PhD students studying on our various campuses.
Equally importantly though are the range of support services in place for all postgraduate students at Otago, and the high quality of research being undertaken across the University. The opportunity to study alongside some of the best academics in the world is a key motivation for many students making that decision to apply to Otago.
What many students do not realise when they apply is that the majority of our academic staff are themselves either from overseas, or have an overseas qualification. So, they have personal experience of making that the same decision as many prospective students are facing, and are well-placed to understand the different issues involved in moving not only to another academic institution, but a whole new culture.
No matter what level of postgraduate study you may be considering, or the particular academic discipline, I hope you find the information and support you need to help in your decision-making, and look forward to welcoming you to Otago.
Find out more about studying at Otago as an international student.