Update: the University's response to COVID-19

Travel restrictions for people coming to New Zealand from mainland China and Iran remain in place in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus.

In addition, as of 16 March 2020, people arriving from anywhere else in the world, with the exception of Pacific Islands in Category 2, will need to register with Healthline on 0800 358 5453 and self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival. This includes New Zealand citizens and permanent residents who are also required to self-isolate and complete a registration form at the border.

These restrictions will be reviewed on 30 March 2020.

Advice for University staff

We now have an intranet page for University staff about the implications of COVID-19. This includes information about work and leave provisions including how to work from home, staff health, travel and insurance, academic requirements, and how to respond to racism.

The Government is now encouraging New Zealanders to avoid all non-essential travel overseas, a position that is endorsed by the University. As a result of this, we are suspending all international travel on University business, effective immediately. If you have any questions about upcoming travel, please send these to vuw-travel@vuw.ac.nz and someone will be touch with you directly.

Unless otherwise instructed by the Ministry of Health, our research, teaching and engagement activities will continue with as much normality as possible, while following the currently recommended preventative health and wellbeing measures. We are expecting additional advice over the next few days about limitations on the size of gatherings and we will incorporate that advice into our approach once we receive it.

Health advice

The Ministry has detailed information about self-isolation. The key protective message is good hygiene such as washing your hands and covering your mouth or nose with a tissue or your elbow when sneezing or coughing.

It is normal to feel stressed or lonely when self-isolating. For support with anxiety or mental wellbeing, you can call or text 1737 free at any time and talk to a trained counsellor.

If you are a student and are concerned about your health, ring Student Health on (04) 463 5308. Staff with health concerns are advised to phone their GP practice for advice. Inquiries can also be made to the Ministry of Health’s dedicated 0800 number for COVID-19 related health inquiries – 0800 358 5453.

You will see our campaign across campus emphasising basic hygiene, with digital screens, social media posts, and posters in all bathrooms on campus. Please ensure you wash your hands frequently and use hand sanitiser as much as possible in between washes. There is hand sanitiser available inside all lecture theatres. Cleaners are cleaning all spaces on a higher rotation than is usual.

To protect your health:

  • Stay home if you are unwell and phone Student Health, your GP or Healthline
  • Follow best practices with hand washing and personal hygiene
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
  • Throw used tissues in a lined bin

To help reduce congestion in student administration areas, the University is encouraging students who want to add or drop a course to do so online rather than in person at their Faculty office. You can find the information here.

Recording lectures

Most lectures and seminars are being recorded during Trimester 1 to assist students affected by the travel restrictions. These will include both lecture or seminar content and any class discussion. The recording will be made available on Blackboard to students enrolled in the course. Your lecturer will let you know if your lecture is not being recorded.

Impact of new self-isolation requirements on domestic and permanent resident students

We have facilities to manage self-isolation for students who arrive in the coming days and weeks and need a place to be for the 14-day period. We are also exploring whether it is in the best interests of our Study Abroad students, who are at overseas institutions, to come home.

We know that some domestic students and students who are permanent residents have been affected by the travel restrictions and may be unable to start on time. The University will be as flexible as possible to make sure you are able to continue with your studies.

Student Health has set up a generic email address for any students who have travelled recently and have any health questions – studenthealth-info@vuw.ac.nz. If you are unwell, please ring Student Health on (04) 463 5308.

There is also a dedicated Ministry of Health 0800 number for coronavirus-related health inquiries – 0800 358 5453 (or + 64 9 358 5453 from overseas). This number is free to call 24 hours a day and interpreters will be on hand to help with translation.

Information for affected International students

Students affected by the travel restrictions can find more information here.

University procedures

The University has robust and up-to-date procedures in place to manage events of this type, and our response can be scaled up as necessary. We are working across the University to ensure full information and pastoral care is provided to new and returning students as well as staff on how to manage any flu-like illness in our community.

Staff are invited to view the Business Continuity Plan on the intranet.


This is an evolving scenario and updates will be provided on this website and through the University’s social media channels. The Ministry of Health now has a dedicated Facebook page and twitter feed for specific coronavirus alerts.

Useful links

Ministry of Health – updates

Ministry of Health – self-isolation tips

Ministry of Health – Facebook updates

Immigration New Zealand – visa information