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Category Research
Type Guideline
Approved by Council, 11 October 2016
Date Guideline Took Effect 12 October 2016
Last approved revision 29 March 2019
Sponsor Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise)
Responsible officer Dean, Graduate Research School

Please note that compliance with University Guidelines is expected in normal circumstances, and any deviation from Guidelines – which should only be in exceptional circumstances – needs to be justifiable.


These guidelines provide advice to postgraduates who travel overseas for research-related purposes. They alert students and their supervisors to aspects that should be considered in advance of travel and provide guidance on items that are included in the Postgraduate Travel Overseas Research and Safety Plan. This Plan must be completed prior to approval being sought for travel overseas.

These guidelines should be read in conjunction with the Field and Off Campus Activities Policy.

Organisational scope

These guidelines apply to all postgraduate students who travel overseas for research-related purposes. The most common postgraduate cohort undertaking such travel are doctoral and, to a lesser extent, masters' research students. It is possible that some coursework masters' students and postgraduate certificate or diploma students could undertake travel overseas for research-related purposes, and if so, they should follow these guidelines.

These guidelines DO NOT apply to overseas travel to attend conferences, or for purely personal reasons.


Research-related purposes
These purposes include fieldwork and visits to educational or research institutions (e.g., visits to research laboratories, archives and libraries).
This is the collection of data for research purposes including both physical fieldwork and fieldwork involving human participants using, for example, surveys, interviews or observational studies.
All students studying at postgraduate level.
Doctoral students
Includes PhD and professional doctorate students.
Masters' students
Includes research and coursework masters' students.


1. Ensuring necessary compliance

  1. For research overseas as part of doctoral or master's study, students must seek approval from the Graduate Research School (for doctoral students) or, for master's students, from the Divisional or Departmental Office as appropriate.  The Change of Research Details form should be completed and returned to the appropriate office for approval.
  2. In order to get approval for overseas research, postgraduate students must complete, and have signed by their supervisor and Head of Department/School, a copy of the Postgraduate Travel Overseas Research and Safety Plan. Once completed, the Plan must be uploaded to the student's file in eVision.
  3. In order for international PhD students to continue to pay domestic tuition fees, they are allowed to be temporarily overseas for research-related reasons for up to one year in total during their doctoral study.  Note that writing-up of the thesis is not normally a valid research-related reason for being overseas.
  4. If required, ethics approval must be in place before collecting any data overseas. Note that it may be necessary for approval to also be obtained from the host institution and/or local agency.
  5. If appropriate, consultation with Māori must be undertaken before collecting any data overseas.

2. Ensuring necessary travel documentation is obtained

  1. The student should have a passport which is valid for more than six months after they return to New Zealand.
  2. The necessary visas should have been obtained for the research.
  3. Any access agreements to land/buildings/spaces must be obtained prior to data collection.
  4. The relevant authorities in the host country should be informed of the study and researchers should comply with any local requirements, for example, research permit, ethical review, research sponsor, etc.

3. Consideration of travel safety issues

  1. In the Postgraduate Travel Overseas Research and Safety Plan, possible risks should be identified and categorised, and the steps being taken to mitigate them outlined. These should include risks in the fieldwork as well as risks associated with accommodation and food.
  2. Where relevant, details should be provided of any safety equipment that is to be taken into the field.
  3. Students should be aware that they always retain the right to withdraw from all or part of any fieldwork activity, without question, when they consider their physical, emotional and/or cultural safety may be compromised.

4. Contact details

  1. In the Plan, details should be provided for how often and by what means (e.g., email, telephone, Skype or face-to-face meetings) the student will make contact with their supervisor and/or department
  2. Emergency contact information for the student must be entered.
  3. Contact details for any local support should be given

5. Consideration of medical issues

  1. Any relevant existing medical conditions should be outlined in the Plan, together with how travel/fieldwork might impact on them and how these will be managed.
  2. If appropriate, students are advised to consult Student Health or their personal doctor at least two months before travelling to check on appropriate medications or inoculations.
  3. Any recommended immunisations should be detailed, together with commentary regarding whether they will or will not be obtained (and if the latter why not). Note that the immunisations will not normally be paid for by the University.

6. Ensuring travel insurance is obtained

  1. The level of risk for the travel both in terms of safety and medical reasons must be ascertained prior to departure:
    1. For travel to a high risk country, permission is required from the relevant Pro-Vice-Chancellor. The application should include the security advice recommended by ISOS , together with an explanation of how those risks will be mitigated.
    2. For travel to an extreme risk country the approval of the Vice-Chancellor is required.
  2. It is mandatory for students to have insurance when travelling overseas on University business (including research activities). Where students' activities are covered by a University grant, the grant is to be used to meet the insurance costs. Three options are available:
    1. Corporate Travel Insurance Policy
    2. Studentsafe Outbound
    3. Under some specific circumstances, international students who are insured under Studentsafe Inbound University may have limited cover while undertaking short-term study or research activities in Australia, Bali, Lombok, the Islands of the South Pacific, or in their country of origin. International students who intend to use their Studentsafe Inbound insurance to cover their overseas study activities are advised to check the policy wording to understand cover or discuss their eligibility and understanding of this cover with International Compliance Services.

Related policies, procedures and forms

Contact for further information

If you have any queries regarding the content of this policy or need further clarification, contact:

The Dean, Graduate Research School

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