STAR Programme

lauren sheat girl in green shirt

The STAR at UC programme allows secondary school students from anywhere in New Zealand to enrol in first-year degree-level courses while they are in Year 12 or 13. We offer both on-campus and distance courses. While most of our STAR students are (partially) funded by Ministry of Education STAR funding, our courses are open to all secondary students, including students at independent schools, home-schooled students, international and adult secondary school students, provided schools meet the course costs through other means.

The STAR at UC Programme offers keen and capable students a stimulating challenge, an opportunity to make a head start on their tertiary degree study, the confidence that they have what it takes to succeed in tertiary study, and an opportunity to connect with like-minded secondary school students. Once the students achieve University Entrance they can credit courses they have successfully completed towards a relevant degree at UC and usually at other universities too. In 2017 UC has over 290 STAR students enrolled from 99 secondary schools around New Zealand.

Back in 1997 UC started offering a 100-level (first-year) mathematics course aimed at talented secondary school students and now a STAR student can enrol in almost any course at 100-level with the approval of the course coordinator and the student’s secondary school. Some of the courses we offer are specifically for STAR students. They cover the same material as 100-level courses we offer our UC students, but are taught in a way that suits the STAR students. STAR students in other courses attend the course like any other UC student.

It is up to schools to identify and approve suitable students, primarily in Years 12 and 13. It is expected that all STAR students will have met the literacy and numeracy requirements of University Entrance.  Some courses have further pre-requisites or guidelines, see the course information on the next tab. 

Once the STAR student has achieved University Entrance, they are credited with up to 60 points towards a relevant UC degree.

Students put forward by their school may normally enrol in a maximum of 30 points in any one year. With the exception of language courses, STAR enrolment is normally limited to 100-level courses. If a student wishes to enrol in more than 30 points in any one year, or they wish to enrol in a 200-level or 300-level non-language course, they require the permission of the UC STAR Coordinator.

Guidelines for Home-School students: Our STAR Programme is aimed at Year 12 or 13 students who would benefit from extension on their secondary school study. It is expected that all students will have met an academic standard equivalent to the literacy and numeracy requirements of NCEA University Entrance. Some courses have further pre-requisites or guidelines. Students who are younger than 16 years of age on the first day of their course must seek approval from the UC STAR Coordinator to enrol in a STAR course. They should provide formally assessed evidence in several subjects attesting to their exceptional academic background (e.g. Cambridge International Exams, NCEA through Correspondence School, relevant study at a polytechnic). It is also expected that these students will have met an academic standard equivalent to the literacy and numeracy requirements of NCEA University Entrance.

STAR courses

See the course list for further details. STAR students can enrol in on campus or distance courses in these subjects: 

  • Accounting
  • Antarctic Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Art History
  • Biological Sciences
  • Chemistry
  • Chinese
  • Cinema Studies
  • Classics
  • Communication Disorders
  • Computer Science
  • Criminal Justice
  • Digital Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities
  • Economics
  • Education
  • English
  • European and European Union Studies
  • Finance
  • Forestry
  • Geography
  • Geology
  • Health Sciences
  • History
  • Human Services
  • Information Systems
  • Japanese
  • Linguistics
  • Management
  • Maori and Indigenous Studies
  • Marketing
  • Mathematics
  • Media and Communication
  • Music
  • Philosophy
  • Political Science
  • Professional and Community Engagement
  • Psychology
  • Russian
  • Science, Maori and Indigenous Knowledge
  • Social Work
  • Sociology
  • Sport Coaching
  • Statistics
  • Te Reo Maori


Workload expectations

Most of the UC courses that are open to STAR students are 15-point courses run over one semester. Most students would have a workload of around 8 hours a week on average, which can include time spent in class, reading the online course materials, working on assignments and preparing for and sitting an exam/test. ECON199 is a 15-point course run over the whole year and has a workload of around 4 hours a week on average.

Course delivery

On campus courses require on campus attendance for lectures, labs and/or tutorials. Timetables can be found on the linked course information pages on the STAR courses list. The course materials for distance courses will be available online. Christchurch-based students who are enrolled in a distance course should sit any final exams or formal tests on the UC campus. Distance students from outside the Christchurch area will be contacted to make alternative arrangements for any final exams or formal tests, usually invigilated at their secondary school. All students will be advised electronically of the times and dates of examinations in March 2018. Students must engage with the course material and complete assessment work in order to be eligible for credit. On successfully completing a course the student will be awarded a grade in the same way as an enrolled UC student. Grade letters will be posted to students and their secondary school will be advised by email.

Obtaining an IT username and password

To be able to access Learn (our online learning system with course sites) and uclive student email, students will need to obtain their IT password for ICTS services.

  • If you are studying on campus, please go to the Security Office at 114 Ilam Road to get your Canterbury Card first. There they will give you instructions on how to obtain your IT password.
  • If you are studying by distance, please call our Contact Centre on 0800 VARSITY (0800 827 748) or (03) 364 2555, between 8:00am and 6:00pm Monday to Friday. In February they also answer the phone between 9:00am and 12 noon Saturday.

Accessing your UCLive email

Students should check their uclive email at least once per week. They can access their account by signing in to Office 365 using their student email address ( and their IT password. This link can also be found on the Current Students page under the Student log ins list on the left of the page.

Accessing your course site on Learn, UC's online learning management system

Most of our courses have a course site on Learn, UC's online learning management system. Students use Learn to read, write, view, listen, and upload resources and assignments, access videod lectures, complete an online poll, take part in a discussion forum or do many other things. They can access the sites of courses they are enrolled in by logging in to Learn by clicking on the "I'm from UC, log me in" button on the right of the page and entering their IT username and password. This link can also be found on the Current Students page under the Student log ins list on the left of the page.

Accessing your course materials

UC will not post any course materials to students; all course materials are available online via Learn. This includes distance courses. Students might need to obtain textbooks, check the course information for the student’s course on the STAR courses list. Textbooks are for sale in the University Book Shop and online on their website.

STAR Orientation 2018

Let us help you get ready for your STAR course. We will run an information sessions and you can meet fellow and former STAR students. Go on a campus tour and get your Canterbury Card and IT password sorted. It is not compulsory to attend, but we would love to see you. Parents/caregivers, whānau and teachers are also welcome.

Date: Saturday 17 February 2018
Time: 1:00pm till 4:00pm
Location: tba

Further details will be provided when students apply to enrol.

The on campus Mathematics course (MATH199 C) has an introductory session on Thursday 15 February 2018, from 4:15-5:30pm in the Engineering Core block off Creyke Rd. Parents are welcome to attend this session.

An Orientation for new Semester 2 students can be arranged if requested.


Thanks to the generous support of the UC Foundation, UC Alumni and the business community, STAR scholarships that cover the tuition fee of a STAR course are available for any STAR student whose ability to succeed in tertiary study is hampered by financial or personal hardship. For more information contact the UC STAR Coordinator.

We offer scholarships for top MATH199 students towards their first year of full time study at UC.

We offer a College of Arts Award especially for home-school students towards fees in their first year of full time study in a BA, MusB, or BFA, which is tied to completion of a STAR course. For more information see the College of Arts' Home-School Students and UC page.

2017 result release dates

The results for Semester 1 courses will be released on the evening of Friday, 7 July. The results of Semester 2 and Whole Year courses will be released on the evening of Friday, 1 December. Some College of Education courses run to a different schedule and results will be released as soon as they are available.
Once results are released we will post a grade letter to STAR students and will advise schools by email of the results of their students.

Last dates to withdraw

Schools must notify the UC STAR Coordinator by email of any student who wishes to withdraw from a STAR course.
Last date to withdraw with refund:

  • Semester 1 courses: Friday, 16 March 2018
  • Whole-year courses: Friday, 16 March 2018
  • Semester 2 courses: Friday, 10 August 2018

Schools will not be invoiced if students withdraw before the above dates and students will not receive a fail grade. Refunds of course fees will not normally be given after these dates. Consideration of late withdrawals will follow UC policy.

Last date to withdraw with no refund

  • Semester 1 courses: Friday, 18 May 2018
  • Whole-year courses: Friday, 10 August 2018
  • Semester 2 courses: Friday, 28 September 2018

Students will not receive a fail grade if they withdraw before these dates.

University holidays

School holidays and university holidays can be at different times. All our courses follow the UC year. The UC breaks in 2018 are as follows:

  • Mid-Semester 1 break: 30 March – 22 April
  • Mid-year break: 25 June – 13 July
  • Mid-Semester 2 break: 25 August – 9 September

Services for STAR students

STAR students can make use of the services offered by the Academic Skills Centre, such as free workshops on writing and study strategies, individual consultations with a learning advisor to discuss a specific assignment and a large amount of online resources.

STAR students with a physical disability or mental health issues can make use of the services offered by the Disability Resource Service.

Library services for STAR students

STAR students have the same borrowing privileges as undergraduate students. This means you can make use of the services offered by the library, including studying in any of our libraries, using computer and photocopying facilities, access to distance services, high demand collections, AskLive (Live Chat with a Librarian), Roving Librarian, Information Desk, and one to one consultations with a subject specialist.

We support STAR students with a physical disability or mental health issues and encourage them to use our libraries.

Eligibility to enter pre-Med studies at the University of Otago

Students who are intending to become a Health Sciences student at the University of Otago once they leave school are advised to contact to query if the STAR course they wish to enrol in would affect their eligibility to enter pre-Med studies. The University of Otago wants all their students to be at the same level when they enter pre-Med studies and doesn’t allow them to have done certain Science-related tertiary level courses, or one year of tertiary level study in any field, before they apply to Otago.

At The University of Auckland students are selected for the Bachelor of Health Science or the Bachelor of Science (Biomedical) (i.e. 'pre-Med') on the basis of their academic merit only; there are no courses that will make students ineligible for selection, like at Otago. If a student has done tertiary level study, they will look at the grades they received for that study as well as NCEA.

Transferring credits from a STAR course to another university

The credits students receive when they successfully complete a STAR course at UC are transferable to other universities, but this is always at the discretion of the other university. However, as the STAR courses are (the equivalent of) first-year UC courses, it is highly unlikely the other universities would not approve the credit transfer. Students should request an academic transcript to submit to the other university with their application for credit transfer. The cost of the academic transcript is $35 and process time is three to four days.

Disputes and concerns

If a concern is of a pastoral nature it will be referred to the student's school for resolution. If a concern is academic it will be considered first by the relevant Head of Department and if a resolution cannot be found it will be referred to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic). UC's relationship through the STAR Programme is with students and their schools and parents with concerns should therefore contact their school's contact person or the UC STAR Coordinator.

As students remain as fully-enrolled secondary school students, they should not complete the standard university enrolment process.

Students interested in enrolling as a STAR student at UC must do so through a staff member at their secondary school (usually a STAR Coordinator or Careers Advisor). Schools should submit a STAR School Registration Form for the year and a STAR School Student enrolment form for each student, as well as a scanned copy of the student's citizenship document.

Submit these documents by email, post, courier or in person:

  • By email:
  • By mail: Franka Menzies, Academic Services Group, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch 8140
  • By courier: University of Canterbury, Attn: Franka Menzies, Warehouse, 20 Kirkwood Ave, Ilam, Christchurch 8041
  • In person: Academic Services Group, Matariki (Registry) building, Level 5 South

Enrolments are open now and the closing date for 2018 Semester 1 and Whole Year courses is Thursday 8 February 2018. The application closing date for 2018 Semester 2 courses is Thursday 28 June 2017.

A contract will be signed between the secondary school and UC the first time a school wishes to enrol STAR students at UC.

Secondary school students who wish to enrol in a Performance Music course at UC (MUSA141MUSA142 or MUSA143) can do so by submitting the Application for Performance Music - Secondary School form‌. Students have to pay the UC Domestic or International tuition fee upfront, no invoice will be sent to the school. Students will be asked to do an audition before they are approved into these courses by the School of Music. The Referee Report at the end of the form should be send to the School of Music, as mentioned on the form.

The fees for STAR students are less than the fees paid by UC students. International STAR students pay the same fee as domestic STAR students. Textbooks, if required, are not included in this cost. STAR students are exempt from paying the UC Student Services Levy.

2018 Course costs ($NZ) for STAR students  
ECON 104 and ECON 105 (15-point on campus courses) $0
MATH 199 (30-point on campus or distance course) $0
PACE 195 (15-point on campus course) $0
15-point courses $550
30-point courses $1,050
45- or 60-point courses $1,130 

We will send out invoices for the tuition fees to schools after the last date STAR students can withdraw without invoice, which is Friday 16 March for Semester 1 and Whole Year courses, and Friday 10 August for Semester 2 courses.

Former STAR student profiles

These students started their academic life at UC as a STAR student: