Postgraduate research students

Find out what the current settings mean for domestic and international students working on their doctoral or Master's thesis, in New Zealand or offshore.

This page was last updated on 8 March 2022.

Information for:

Upload your COVID-19 My Vaccine Pass

Anybody who is going to be on campus and/or involved in face-to-face learning and teaching is required to upload a copy of their COVID-19 My Vaccine Pass. Please upload your pass as soon as possible.

Upload your My Vaccine Pass (Student)

The copy of your COVID-19 My Vaccine Pass will then be authenticated against the University’s system to show that you have uploaded your valid COVID-19 My Vaccine Pass. This will be loaded to your swipe pass to allow you access to buildings.

Students who are also on the staff, including PhD students, can also upload via the Staff Portal. However, when your staff contract ends (e.g., as a tutor) your staff access will stop and you will need to have had your My Vaccine Pass in the student system to continue to access campus.

Upload your My Vaccine Pass (Staff)

Further information about campus access and the vaccine mandate.

Doctoral students in New Zealand

COVID-19 Protection Framework—Red setting

All of Aotearoa New Zealand is currently at the Red setting of the COVID-19 Protection Framework.

The COVID-19 framework is based on three key principles: vaccination, mask-wearing, and scanning in.

Under the Red setting, all staff, students and visitors on campus, or participating in face-to-face University activities offsite, must be vaccinated. Staff, students and contractors must upload their My Vaccine Pass for verification in the University system.

Vaccination is not required for those not eligible for vaccination in New Zealand, those accessing the Early Childhood Centres (University Kids Wellington) and essential services such as Mauri Ora, and the University Pharmacy. Masks must be worn inside the Pharmacy and Mauri Ora unless there is a valid mask exemption.

The University has implemented a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all those coming onto our campuses from 31 January 2022. There's more information on our vaccine mandate page.

Find out more about how the University is operating at the Red setting.

Campus access

Staff and students must wear masks while inside in public spaces on campus, and maintain physical distancing of 1 metre. While Mauri Ora—Student Health and Counselling and the University Pharmacy are not subject to the vaccine mandate, masks must be worn in these spaces.

Research and related activities may continue at the Red setting, utilising dedicated health and safety assessments for each activity, controlled group sizes for onsite work—including in the field—and other public health measures such as masks. High-risk activities, including any activities that involve close physical proximity, should be carefully managed.

Please swipe in and out of buildings with your ID card, and scan the QR codes for the NZ COVID Tracer app when attending activities on campus.

Public health information can be found on the New Zealand Government's COVID-19 website.

Continuing your research

Due to the unpredictable nature of COVID-19 and the ongoing implications and restrictions, you may need to discuss with your supervisor how you can pivot your research. Make a plan together about how you can conduct your research in the context of a global pandemic that will lead to a successful thesis even if it is different from your original plan.

We know that the pandemic has affected everyone. We encourage you to take advantage of the experience of your supervisors. They have met challenges before that have required them to adapt their research in the face of unexpected obstacles. They will have useful advice.

Doctoral examinations and submissions

Submission

We have permanently changed the rules so that all doctoral theses are now submitted digitally via an online form.

The deadline for submission is midnight on the last day of the month, unless specified otherwise. Look at the Doctoral Examinations webpage for more information on submission.

Oral Defence

At the Red setting, all oral defence examinations are held via Zoom.

The Examinations Team will contact you and your examination committee before your exam date to explain the arrangements, and to confirm all participants’ availability to attend.

Lodging your thesis in the Library

The library offers an online self-deposit service. There are instructions about how to deposit your thesis on the Library’s website.

Research Away applications

Research students are now able to apply to travel overseas to undertake research.

To apply you need to complete the online application form, available on the Wellington Faculty of Graduate Research's Forms and templates page.

On that form, there is a question about health risks. Under that question, you need to address the challenge of COVID-19. You will need to include:

  • The risk of catching COVID-19 while undertaking this field work.
  • How you will mitigate this risk and how you will respond if you do become infected—this might include, for example, your medical insurance arrangements.

The application process is for everybody's benefit. We need to be sure that you and your School have taken all the risks into account and that the University has fulfilled its duty of care towards you.

International students returning home

Once the border opens, which is expected to happen on 12 April, you will have flexibility to return home for short visits, then return to New Zealand. However, you need to plan any such trips carefully, taking into account flight availability and the rules around re-entry to New Zealand for your particular situation (see the notes later on the page for students with current valid visas).

Before 12 April, if you need to return home due to unexpected circumstances, you may be able to apply for leave to travel on compassionate grounds. If your application is approved, you would be able to continue to work on your thesis in your home country while paying domestic fees, until it is reasonably practical for you to return to New Zealand.

Email fgr-postgrads@vuw.ac.nz if you wish to apply to return home on compassionate grounds.

Financial aid and scholarships

If you are a doctoral student nearing the submission of your thesis, you can apply for the Wellington Doctoral Submission Scholarship. As a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, this scholarship has been extended to allow up to an extra two months’ funding to students whose research has been significantly impacted.

This temporary extension applies to applications for scholarships starting between November 2020 and December 2022. This scholarship will provide a stipend of $2,000 per month, less any outstanding tuition fees.

If you are facing financial hardship now, the University also has a general Hardship Fund that you can apply to.

If you have any questions about your scholarship, contact the Scholarships office via email pg-research@vuw.ac.nz.

Doctoral students offshore

New Zealand border settings

The New Zealand border remains closed to all non-citizens and non-permanent residents. Immigration New Zealand is not currently processing Study Visa applications for anyone who is not in New Zealand.

The New Zealand Government has provided further updates on the re-opening of the New Zealand border. The border will reopen in five stages. For our international students, there are two key stages:

  • From Tuesday 12 April, up to 5000 international students will be able to enter the country for study in Trimester 2
  • From October, the border will open to visitors from anywhere in the world, including new and returning international students.

Details on who is eligible to return from April are still being confirmed by the Ministry of Education. The 5000 places will be allocated across New Zealand’s universities, polytechnic institutions, and schools. We expect a much smaller number being allocated to the university sector. These students will need to be fully vaccinated and hold a valid visa before travelling.

We will be working closely with the Ministry of Education and Immigration New Zealand to provide further details on when our students can return. We will also be working with both agencies to confirm and assess eligible students. Once we have more information about eligibility criteria, we will directly contact those eligible students.

Currently Immigration New Zealand is still not processing visas for most individuals who are outside New Zealand. We are waiting for more advice from the Government, and we anticipate that there will be more information leading up to October when the border is scheduled to open to visitors from anywhere in the world, including new and international students.

This is an evolving situation, and we will keep you well-informed of any further updates. In the meantime, go to the Government website for more information and keep checking our website for updates.

Remember also that this is a fast-moving situation and that the rules can change suddenly.

Starting your PhD from outside New Zealand

If you have received and accepted your Offer of Place, you can apply to start your doctoral studies from overseas as a distance student. Applications are considered on a case-by-case basis and depend on the nature of your research.

Because students are currently unable to travel to New Zealand, the University has a dispensation from the Tertiary Education Commission. This dispensation means that international students are able to study from outside this country, and pay domestic fees until it is reasonably practical from them to travel to New Zealand.

To enrol from overseas, you will have to meet the criteria outlined in the 'Guidelines for enrolment of international PhD students who are overseas due to Covid-19 travel restrictions' below. If you are interested in this option you must discuss with your supervisor(s) whether this is a feasible arrangement you and your research.

Once you have agreement from your supervisor, please email the Doctoral Administration team at fgr-postgrads@vuw.ac.nz to receive the remaining paperwork. Please note these applications can take up to 3 weeks to process due to the approvals required.

View the Guideline for enrolment of international PhD students who are overseas owing to COVID-19 border restrictions (PDF).

Visa information

Information for students with existing valid student visas

From 12 April, international students with a current valid student visa, who meet the requirements of that visa, will be able to re-enter New Zealand without needing to be eligible for one of the 5,000 places. This includes student visa holders currently studying offshore and those currently in New Zealand who choose to travel overseas and wish to return to New Zealand.

These students need to meet their current visa requirements, all relevant vaccination requirements, and if relevant, ensure travel out and back into New Zealand is approved by their scholarship provider. Immigration New Zealand advises students not to book any flights until they have determined which visa requirements need to be met.

Information for students without existing student visas

Immigration New Zealand is not currently processing Study Visa applications for anyone who is not in New Zealand (see the notes above about border settings). You do not need a visa to start your doctoral studies from overseas (see the notes above about starting your PhD from outside New Zealand).

Any future updates on the situation will be communicated here.

Doctoral examinations and submissions

Submission

We have permanently changed the rules so that all doctoral theses are now submitted in electronic form. For offshore students, all theses and submission documents must be submitted submitted digitally via an online form. The deadline for submission is midnight on the last day of the month, unless specified otherwise. Look at the Doctoral Examinations webpage for more information on submission.

Oral Defence

Doctoral examinations are continuing for all students, whether in New Zealand or overseas. If you are overseas you will attend via Zoom. The Examinations Team will contact you and your examination committee before your exam date to explain the arrangements, and to confirm all participants’ availability to attend.

Lodging your thesis in the Library

The library offers an online self-deposit service. There are instructions about how to deposit your thesis on the Library’s website.

Research Away applications

If you are planning to do research outside of your usual office or place of residence you will need to apply for 'Research Away' permission.

To apply you need to complete the online application form, available on the Wellington Faculty of Graduate Research's Forms and templates page.

  • Disregard any references to Wellington or Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University as the 'home' location, and apply the form to your own situation.

On that form, there is a question about health risks. Under that question, you need to address the challenge of COVID-19. You will need to include:

  • The risk of catching COVID-19 while undertaking this field work.
  • How you will mitigate this risk and how you will respond if you do become infected—this might include, for example, your medical insurance arrangements or the availability of public healthcare.

The application process is for everybody's benefit. We need to be sure that you and your School have taken all the risks into account and that the University has fulfilled its duty of care towards you.

Studying part-time

If you are an international student studying towards a PhD from outside New Zealand, you are an 'international distance student'. You are able to study half-time as you are not restricted by Study Visa conditions (as you would be if you were already in New Zealand).

Half-time study is appropriate if you are spending less than 30 hours per week on research towards your PhD.

Half-time registration counts as 50 percent of full-time registration. Therefore, if you are enrolled half-time:

  • The deadline for moving from provisional PhD registration to full registration is 24 months.
  • The minimum period that you must be registered before you submit your thesis is 72 months (assuming you remain at half-time enrolment for the duration of your doctoral study).
  • If you change between half-time and full-time registration, the calculations of these deadlines are prorated.

If you are already enrolled, you can apply to change between full-time and half-time enrolment. Download and complete the 'Change between full- and half-time form' below, and return it to your Faculty's postgraduate adviser.

When you travel to New Zealand, you will need to be registered for full-time study to meet the conditions of your Study Visa.

Financial aid and scholarships

If you are a doctoral students nearing the submission of your thesis, you can apply for the Wellington Doctoral Submission Scholarship. As a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, this scholarship has been extended to allow up to an extra two months’ funding to students whose research has been significantly impacted.

This temporary extension applies to applications for scholarships starting between November 2020 and December 2022. This scholarship will provide a stipend of $2,000 per month, less any outstanding tuition fees.

If you are facing financial hardship now, the University also has a general Hardship Fund that you can apply to.

If you have any questions about your scholarship, contact the Scholarships office via email pg-research@vuw.ac.nz.

Master's by thesis students

Continuing your research

Due to the unpredictable nature of COVID-19 and the ongoing implications and restrictions, you may need to discuss with your supervisor how you can pivot your research. Make a plan together about how you can conduct your research in the context of a global pandemic that will lead to a successful thesis even if it is different from your original plan.

We know that the pandemic has affected everyone. We encourage you to take advantage of the experience of your supervisors. They have met challenges before that have required them to adapt their research in the face of unexpected obstacles. They will have useful advice.

Back to the main COVID-19 information page