COVID-19 update

Read the latest COVID-19 updates from the University and find out how we are supporting our community.

Students studying from overseas

Find information for Victoria University of Wellington international students who are outside New Zealand and affected by COVID-19 travel restrictions.

New Zealand closed its borders to all non-citizens and non-permanent residents at 11.59 pm on Thursday 20 March. Student visa holders cannot currently enter New Zealand.

If you are a student affected by the COVID-19 travel restrictions, we have answers to some common questions. This includes information about what to do if you are not able to attend your classes at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.

Student Engagement Day

We strongly encourage all enrolled students to attend Student Engagement Day online, on Thursday 2 April. Students will need to complete a 20 minute activity with each of their course lecturers on this day. Information about what time each activity will occur will be available by Wednesday 1 April on Blackboard.

Immigration and visas

Travel restrictions

New Zealand has closed its borders to all non-citizens and non-permanent residents as of 11.59 pm Thursday 20 March.

Find out more at Immigration New Zealand.

Visa expiry while self-isolating

Returning students whose visa expires on 31 March and who are self-isolating should apply for their new visa directly with Immigration New Zealand.

People who are in New Zealand now and who have a work, student, visitor, limited, or interim visa with an expiry date of 2 April to 9 July 2020 inclusive will have their visas extended to 25 September 2020. Confirmation of extensions will be emailed to all visa holders.

You can find your visa expiry date in your eVisa letter.

More information for Student visa holders.

Rules around visas for postgraduate students

Immigration New Zealand has kept firm restrictions around visas. If you are on a Student visa, you cannot be enrolled part time. If you are a Master's student, you are not allowed to suspend your study. But if you are a doctoral student, you may be allowed to suspend your study for up to three months in any 12-month period.

If you want to suspend your study—and if doing so will breach the terms of your visa—you will need to apply for a new Visitor visa. As long as the application has been accepted by Immigration New Zealand, you can stay in New Zealand while you wait for your Visitor visa to be confirmed.

Immigration New Zealand is considering other variations to its usual conditions. See the latest official information and notifications from Immigration New Zealand.

For more detailed information about visas

Find COVID-19-related information for Student visa holders on the Immigration New Zealand website.

Fees and penalty payments

Fee payment dates

New student enrolment into Trimester 1, 2020 courses should be complete by now. The University has extended its enrolment and fee payment dates for students affected by the virus and travel ban, with the final date being Tuesday 31 March.

Penalty payments

You won’t need to pay a penalty if your study is affected by the COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Students who have already paid but can't travel yet

If you have already paid your fees and plan to delay your start to another trimester, your fees will remain in your student account until you enrol in your courses.

Tuition fee refunds

You can request a refund if you:

  • are affected by the travel ban and can’t complete your enrolment before Tuesday 31 March, or
  • fully withdraw from study by 31 March, or
  • choose not to come to the University to study.
Refunds of accommodation after arrival

You can request a refund for accommodation after arrival if you have been directly affected by COVID-19:

  • You will be charged from arrival until the day you leave—everything else is refunded.
  • You will not be charged a contract break free (usually $500).
  • You will not be charged additional penalty fees.
  • The refunds will take the usual six weeks to process.
Refunds of tuition fees after arrival if you were affected by travel restrictions

If you withdraw by 31 March, you can receive a 100% refund. Contact your faculty.

If you withdraw between 1 April and 8 May, you will receive a 75% refund. Contact your faculty and apply for the refund via the Fee reconsideration process.

If you withdraw between 11 May and 5 June, you will receive a 50% refund. Contact your faculty and apply for the refund via the Fee reconsideration process.

Refund when you cannot continue studying in New Zealand

If you are an international student who has officially been recalled to their home country, your application for a refund will be considered on a case-by-case basis. You may be able to withdraw with a partial refund (75% or 50%) until 10 May. Contact your faculty and apply for the refund via the Fee reconsideration process.

In case of campus closure

If your course cannot be delivered online, you may apply for a 100% refund of tuition fees. Your faculty will contact you.

In the following scenarios, no refund of tuition fees will be possible:

  • If your course is being delivered online, but you wish to withdraw.
  • If you are an international student and just want to go home, but your course is available online.
  • If you are self-isolating and still able to engage in study, but you withdraw.

In any of these scenarios, if you are experiencing additional extenuating circumstances, you may qualify for a fee reconsideration.

Information for returning students

Graduating

If you’re due to finish your study this trimester, you still need to successfully complete all your degree requirements to graduate on time.

If you have not yet heard directly from your faculty advisors, contact your faculty office and ask them to complete a degree audit for you. They will be able to answer specific questions.

In light of Government announcements and the rapidly changing situation with COVID-19, the University is postponing its May graduation ceremonies and parades.

You will receive your degree certificate via My eQuals, and the ceremonies will be rescheduled when possible.

Who to contact

Your faculty is responsible for communication with you, and all returning students have been given details on how best to contact their faculty directly. If you haven’t received those details, call +64 4 472 1000.

Information for new students

Getting application documents verified
If you are living in isolation because of COVID-19, you may not need to post or verify your documents for the initial assessment of your application. Our admissions team will let you know if you need to post or verify your documents at a later stage. If you have any questions about this, contact our admissions team at international-admissions@vuw.ac.nz.
New student enrolments

Enrolment into your Trimester 1, 2020 courses should now be complete.

Due to the Government’s decision to ensure our safety by going to alert level 4 from Wednesday 25 March, teaching has been paused from that time.

The trimester break has been brought forward to give staff an additional three-week period to prepare for a change in delivery methods. Online teaching will resume on 28 April.

No examinations in Trimester 1

Because no face-to-face or on-campus activities are allowed, there will be no exams for your Trimester 1 courses. Your course will be taught until the end of the trimester on 26 June.

Course coordinators will work with their associate deans and student representatives to replace exams with alternative forms of assessment that can be completed at home. These alternative forms of assessment will ensure that all course learning objectives are met.

More information for postgraduate students

Research students, like taught students, will need to work from home.

Go to the Postgraduate Research Students page for further information related to your study situation.

Student Engagement Day

Thursday 2 April will be a Student Engagement Day. Your lecturers, and in some cases your tutors, will engage directly with you online that day to check in with you.

Where possible, the meeting will occur at the start of a scheduled teaching time. The purpose of the meeting will be to let you all know how the course has changed.

Deferring your offer of place to Trimester 2

If you want to defer your offer of place to Trimester 2 (July), visit our website and follow the instructions to defer your offer.

If you have any questions about deferring your offer, please contact us at international@vuw.ac.nz.

Deferring your offer of place for a year

If your course only starts once a year in Trimester 1, you can defer your offer of place for a year.

Your faculty will contact you with other options for your study.

International orientation

Our International Student Support team at Wellington University International will arrange a special orientation session for you after you arrive in Wellington if you let us know of your plans in advance. This will occur after the lockdown period has ended.

Once the borders are open and your arrival date has been confirmed, contact us at international-support@vuw.ac.nz.

Changing your courses in Trimester 1

If you would like to change your courses, contact your faculty office as soon as possible.

Studying online

Available online courses

COVID-19 has caused us to stop teaching on campus at the University. But we still offer a range of fully online courses you can enrol in. As of 28 April, the vast majority of courses will be taught online through the University’s Blackboard system.

Online tutorial delivery

This will vary from course to course. Details will be given on Blackboard.

Options include:

  • discussion board through Zoom (online seminar software)
  • no tutorials
  • additional onsite tutorials to allow students to catch up once they have arrived on campus.
Technology for studying online

You will need access to Blackboard. All information about other course requirements will be available on the course pages of Blackboard. Students who have technical issues with Blackboard can get in touch by phone +64 4 463 5050, email servicedesk@vuw.ac.nz, or via webchat.

Within China, the connection works best with a VPN (virtual private network) on any device, or if you don’t have a VPN, on a Windows operating system.

Support and resources

Self-isolation

Countries included in self-isolation

Student visa holders can no longer enter New Zealand due to the closure of the borders to halt the COVID-19 pandemic.

Missing classes due to self-isolation

All teaching has stopped as of 23 March until the scheduled mid-trimester break ends on 28 April. From that date on, classes will be offered entirely online.

Self-isolation in a hall of residence for those who have travelled recently or who have been exposed to COVID-19

We have hall accommodation set aside for self-isolation of unwell students if required.

Our staff will tell you what you need to know and will support you while you are in self-isolation. Students must remain in their self-isolation accommodation for the duration of their mandated period.

Staying home in a hall of residence

The majority of students from first year halls who were unable to travel home have been placed in Weir House. These students are not paying for accommodation for the time they are at Weir House.

During the lockdown, all students still living in the following accommodations will stay where they are:

  • 222 Willis
  • Education House
  • University Halls
  • Stafford House self-catered halls.

Some room changes may be needed.

All students in Weir House are well. Within the hall, you can talk and socialise as usual. We ask you to stay in the hall, except if you need essential items from the supermarket. If you go out, keep a two-meter distance from others.

Wearing a mask in student accommodation

Most people in self-isolation are well. The Ministry of Health’s current advice is that for most people in the community, face masks are not recommended. For people with symptoms of an acute respiratory infection, there may be benefits in wearing a mask to reduce the risk of spreading infection.

If you wish to use a face mask, the University supports your right to do this. We also want to note that in many cultures, face masks are worn by people routinely as a courtesy to those around them and to guard against pollution and pollen.

Arrival meeting service suspended

The arrival meeting service is temporarily unavailable until 30 April to ensure the wellbeing of our volunteer students during the coronavirus pandemic.

If you have any questions, contact us at international@vuw.ac.nz.

Student accommodation (halls of residence)

Arriving after Trimester 1

If you have already signed a contract for Student Accommodation but can’t arrive during Trimester 1, your fees can be used as payment for Trimester 2 accommodation.

Arriving partway through Trimester 1

The New Zealand borders are currently closed. Student visa holders cannot currently enter New Zealand.

All halls except Weir House and some of the self-catered halls are closed from 24 March until the University is able to resume regular operation.

How the halls of residence are keeping students safe

The students who have been moved to Weir House are not recent arrivals to New Zealand.

Hall staff are trained in infection control measures and the halls have extensive contingency plans.

Additional cleaning is occurring in the common areas in halls, and touch-free alcohol sanitisers have been added to the entrances and dining areas.

Private accommodation

How to stay safe in private accommodation

Wherever you were staying on the night of 25 March is where you must remain for the four weeks afterwards, or until the Government changes the alert level.

Your flat is a safe space. If you have flatmates, they are the only people you may see during this period.

You are welcome to walk, cycle, or run in your area. But please stay two metres away from anybody else you see.

You can reach out to your family and friends at home and in New Zealand via online methods like Skype, Zoom, Teams, Facebook Messenger. This is encouraged, as it will help to prevent you from feeling lonely while self-isolating.

The COVID-19 self-isolation page has further tips on how to keep yourself safe during this period.

I have been exposed to COVID-19 and need to self-isolate, but there is no way to do this in my current flat

Contact International Student Support team immediately at international-support@vuw.ac.nz or phone the international emergency number 027 600 6864.

Paying rent when you can’t stay at your flat or apartment

If you signed a fixed-term tenancy agreement which has not ended, you need to pay rent even if you are not living in your apartment.

If you are sharing your accommodation with others, you can ask them whether they can replace you. In this case, the owner of the flat or apartment needs to allow it.

You can find more information from the Government's Tenancy Services website and from the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

About COVID-19

New Zealand cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus)

There is now evidence of community spread of COVID-19. On the Government’s four-stage alert level messaging system, New Zealand is now at alert level 4.

For more information about the COVID-19 situation in New Zealand, please visit the Ministry of Health website.

Symptoms

Symptoms are similar to a range of other illnesses such as influenza. Symptoms include:

  • fever
  • coughing
  • difficulty breathing.
Protecting yourself

Information to date indicates that COVID-19 is spread by droplets. This means that when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks, they may generate droplets which settle on surrounding surfaces.

It is important to practise good hygiene, regularly wash and dry your hands completely, and cover your mouth with a tissue or your elbow when you cough or sneeze.

Should I use a face mask?

Hand-washing, good hygiene, and good cough catching are more effective than face masks for stopping the spread of COVID-19. The Ministry of Health notes that face masks aren’t required for general use, and that there is no good evidence that their use prevents the spread of disease.

If you wish to use a face mask, the University supports your right to do this. We also want to note that in many cultures, face masks are worn by people routinely as a courtesy to those around them and to guard against pollution and pollen.

What type of medical help can the University provide?

Health Services will stay open while the University is closed, but only for essential services. Students will need to ring ahead to make an appointment on 04 463 5308. The Mauri Ora website has further details.

StudentSafe insurance

Am I covered for medical cost if I contract COVID-19 in New Zealand?

Yes, if you are insured with StudentSafe University insurance, the medical cost can be covered if you contract COVID-19 in New Zealand.

But if you have other types of insurance, you need to contact your insurance company to find out.

Can I claim flight ticket costs if I have to cancel them due to the travel ban?

If you have booked your tickets after 10 am on 28 February, you will not be covered for any loss of flights, accommodation, or associated costs due to COVID-19.

If the tickets were booked before 10 am on 28 February, you can lodge a claim and StudentSafe will consider it.

I am currently enrolled and studying from overseas due to the travel ban. Do I have to keep the insurance?

You have the option to keep this insurance as you are enrolled in the system, but it isn’t necessary, since you are studying overseas.

Be aware that StudentSafe University insurance covers you for up to 90 days in your home country (180 days for PhD students).

Will any insurance cover gap affect my claim in the future?

Yes, generally, if insurance continuity is interrupted, any previous medical condition will be considered as a pre-existing medical condition. You will need to fill out the medical risk assessment form.

Be aware that the insurance company may change their position.

I have to withdraw from this trimester/this year due to the travel restrictions. How can I stop my insurance?

Since you are not enrolled, the insurance premium can be reversed from your account. Complete the insurance waiver form and email it back to Crystal Li.

I plan to come back in Trimester 2 (July 2020). Am I covered for the direct trip from my home country to NZ?

Yes, if you travel directly from your country of origin to New Zealand, you are automatically covered for 31 days before the course starts.

Can I purchase Studentsafe Outbound policy or Exploresafe Outbound policy when I am overseas?

No. You must purchase these insurance policies before you leave New Zealand. If you are already overseas, then the insurance company can’t provide you with any extra cover.

Read our latest announcements

The University is providing up-to-date information on the the global outbreak of COVID-19 and its impact on staff and students.