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Students walking through the Quadrangle

This section lists terms and abbreviations used within the University that are specific to the Admission process. You will encounter them frequently so it is useful to know them.

See the Terminology page for a full list.


Ad Eundem Credit

Credit awarded to a student on the basis of passes at any other tertiary institution or on the basis of recognition of prior learning. Such credit is termed 'credit for study elsewhere' when it is based on passes at other New Zealand universities, and RPL credit when it is based on recognition of prior non-credentialled learning.

Ad Eundem Statum Admission

Admission "at the same level", which is usually granted on the basis of qualifications from overseas or of non-university tertiary qualifications gained within New Zealand. Admission can be at entrance level (for students with the equivalent of a standard university entrance qualification e.g. through CIE or IB), or on the basis of tertiary-level passes, or at graduate level if you have completed a degree or equivalent qualification.


Admission refers either to admission to the University or to a specific paper or programme. Apart from a few special circumstances, a person must have a university entrance qualification (normally on the basis of NCEA credits, Bursaries results, ad eundem statum admission, special admission, discretionary entrance or provisional entrance) and must have fulfilled language requirements in order to be admitted as a student. New and recommencing students applying for entry to undergraduate general degree programmes will be selected via the Entry Pathway system). Specialised Bachelors' degree programmes as well as Honours and postgraduate programmes have their own specific admission requirements. Admission to some papers (e.g. those with limited numbers) may require Departmental Permission.

Application for study

The act of applying for admission to the University and/or to a particular programme (the first phase of the enrolment process).

Ask Otago

An online service provided by the University with answers to general enquiries and questions including, but not limited to, matters such as applying, admission, enrolment, records, exchange, accommodation and student life on campus. Ask Otago is available at


Bachelor's Degree

A first or undergraduate degree, normally requiring at least three years of full-time study.



The University's official publication containing its statutes, regulations (including programme requirements), important dates, and other information.

Competitive Entry

A pathway for admission to general undergraduate courses and programmes, for students who do not qualify for Preferential Entry. Competitive Entry students are ranked according to their academic performance and other relevant criteria and are offered places in the University in order of priority subject to fulfilling minimum age, entrance, and language requirements and the availability of places in their nominated programmes.


Papers or points passed at Otago, or for which a student has been granted ad eundem credit (including transfer and RPL credit - see entry for 'Ad eundem credit' above), that may be counted towards a University of Otago programme.

Cross Credit

Cross credit describes the situation in which a pass in a University of Otago course or paper is able to be credited by a student towards the requirements for two University of Otago qualifications. Neither qualification may be a postgraduate qualification or a graduate diploma or graduate certificate. The number of points that may be cross credited varies according to the minimum number of years required to complete the programmes concerned.

Credit for study elsewhere (transfer credit)

Credit may be granted towards Otago qualifications based on study completed at another tertiary institution, or as “recognition of prior learning” (for certain Maori Studies and Surveying papers only).

Credit may be granted as specified credit (recognising that the passes from elsewhere are equivalent to specific Otago papers, e.g. HIST 101 and 102) or as unspecified credit (recognising passes that do not correspond exactly to any Otago papers, e.g. 36 unspecified Arts points at 100-level).


Discretionary Entrance

The method for students under 20 years of age and without a New Zealand University Entrance qualification to gain admission to University. Usually based on Year 12 NCEA results. This does not apply to international students.

Domestic Student

Students are classified as domestic if they are New Zealand citizens (including citizens of the Cook Islands, Tokelau, and Niue), or holders of New Zealand residence class visas granted under the Immigration Act 2009 residing and studying in New Zealand, or Australian citizens or permanent residents of Australia resident and studying in New Zealand. All other students are classified as international students and normally require a student visa to study in New Zealand.



The collective term used for application, payment of fees, and Course Enrolment. The final step of enrolment is completion by the student of a declaration which constitutes a formal commitment to the course concerned and to liability for associated fees; the student is then fully enrolled.

Further information about enrolment is available elsewhere on this website.

Entry Pathway system

The system under which domestic students are assessed for selection and admission to most undergraduate programmes. Also see Competitive Entry and Preferential Entry.


eVision is a one-stop shop for study-related information where students will apply to study, access all important study-related information, and maintain their personal information.


First Year Student

A student who has not previously attended the University of Otago or any other university in New Zealand.



A letter awarded for a particular paper which indicates the level of performance in examinations and other assessment. (A+ is top grade; C- is lowest passing grade; D and E are failing grades).

General Bachelors' Degrees

Any of the ordinary 3-year bachelors' degrees (BA, MusB, BPA, BTheol, BCom, BSc, BAppSc, BBiomedSc), most of which have a choice of major subjects, available to eligible domestic students under the Entry Pathway system.

Grade Point Average (GPA)

A numerical measure of a student's academic achievement. When a GPA is needed at Otago for admission or scholarships purposes, a numerical value is assigned to each letter grade:

  • A+ = 9
  • A = 8
  • A- = 7
  • B+ = 6
  • B = 5
  • B- = 4
  • C+ = 3
  • C = 2
  • C- = 1

The weighted average is then calculated (taking into account differing point values of papers).


International Student

Any student who is not a domestic student (see entry above). International students normally require a student visa to study in New Zealand.


National Student Index (NSI)

The National Student Index is a national register of all students in the New Zealand education system. Each student on the register has a unique National Student Number (NSN). All students enrolled in formal tertiary education are required to have an “active” NSN, meaning the name, date of birth and citizenship details of the record have been verified.

National Student Number (NSN)

A number assigned to every student by the Ministry of Education to help in the maintenance of information about students, even if they change institutions.

NCEA – National Certificate of Educational Achievement

NCEA is the current national system for evaluating educational achievement and is administered by NZQA. The majority of new students gaining admission to the University do so by virtue of their NCEA results from secondary school.

New Student

A student who has not previously attended the University of Otago.

New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA)

A government agency which maintains an overview of secondary and tertiary qualifications offered within New Zealand and, in particular, is responsible for the NCEA (National Certificate of Educational Achievement).


Ordinary Bachelor's Degree

A bachelor's degree awarded without honours. Most ordinary bachelor's degrees may be completed in three years of full-time study, although some require four, five or six.


Preferential Entry

A pathway for admission to undergraduate courses and programmes. Students who qualify for Preferential Entry on the basis of academic merit and/or other criteria are guaranteed places in the University subject to fulfilling minimum age, entrance, and language requirements.


Recommencing Student

A student who has been enrolled at the University previously but not in the preceding two calendar years.

Returning Student

A student who has been enrolled at the University in either or both of the preceding two calendar years.

RPL Credit

In some cases it is possible for students to have prior non-credentialled learning (i.e. learning which has not been formally recognised with a qualification or other documented record) recognised for the purposes of admission to or credit towards a course or programme. The process of assessing and recording such learning is called Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) and any credit granted is termed RPL credit.


Selective Entry Course

See Specialised Bachelors' degrees.


The academic year has two main teaching periods, the first semester and the second semester.

Special Admission

A means of entrance to the University for domestic students over 20 years of age who do not hold a New Zealand University Entrance qualification. Special Admission is available to domestic students only.

Specialised Bachelors' Degrees

Qualifications for which only a limited number of students may enrol. These programmes have specific entry requirements in the relevant programme regulations (e.g. for Teacher Education, Law, Physical Education, Surveying, Social Work and several Health Sciences professional degrees).

Summer School

An intensive teaching period from early January to mid-February during which a range of undergraduate papers are offered.


Transferring Student

A student who has previously attended another university in New Zealand but not the University of Otago.



A student studying for a Bachelor's or other first degree.


Witnessed Copy

A photocopied document signed by a person of suitable standing (e.g. Solicitor, Justice of the Peace), who has seen the original document and checked that the copy is true and unaltered.

Otago Life

See the Otago Life website for ways to make the most out of your time at the University.

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