STAR Programme

STAR student Julia

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 2019 UC has over 375 STAR students enrolled from 96 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 alongside the UC students who are enrolled in the course.

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. STAR enrolment is normally limited to 100-level courses, with the exception of language 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 are able to enrol in on campus or distance courses in the subjects listed below. Please note that not all these subjects are offered as distance study.

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


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 on avegae 8 hours a week, which can include time spent in class, reading the online course materials, working on assignments and preparing for and sitting an exam/test. ECON199 and the Distance version of ECON105 are 15-point courses run over the whole year and have a workload of on average 4 hours a week.

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. Students in distance courses can access the course materials online on our online learning management system, Learn. 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 2019. 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 emailed to students and their secondary school will be advised as well.

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 username and 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 UC home page under the logins list on the top right 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 UC home page under the logins list on the top right 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 the University Book Shop website.

STAR Orientation 2019

Let us help you get ready for your STAR course. We will run an information session 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 16 February 2019
Time: 1:00pm till 4:00pm
Location: C1

Further details will be provided when students apply to enrol.

The on campus Mathematics course (MATH199 C) has an introductory session on Thursday 14 February 2019, 4:15pm-5:30pm, in lecture theatre E5 (Engineering Core Building). 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.

2019 result release dates

The results for Semester 1 courses will be released on the evening of Friday, 5 July. The results of Semester 2 and Whole Year courses will be released on the evening of Friday, 29 November. 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 for 2019 

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, 15 March 2019
  • Whole-year courses: Friday, 15 March 2019
  • Semester 2 courses: Friday, 9 August 2019

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 be given after these dates.

Last date to withdraw with no refund

  • Semester 1 courses: Friday, 17 May 2019
  • Whole-year courses: Friday, 9 August 2019
  • Semester 2 courses: Friday, 27 September 2019

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 2019 are as follows:

  • Mid-Semester 1 break: 8-26 April
  • Mid-year break: 24 June – 12 July
  • Mid-Semester 2 break: 26 August – 6 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 Equity & Disability 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.

Students interested in enrolling as a STAR student at UC need to first discuss their enrolment with a staff member at their secondary school (usually a STAR Coordinator or Careers Advisor).

Enrolments for 2020 will open on 1 October 2019. The last date to submit applications for Semester 1 or Whole Year courses is Friday 7 February 2020. The last date to submit applications for Semester 2 courses is Friday 26 June 2020. We recommend that MATH199 students enrol before the end of 2019 and their schools should make contact with the MATH199 Course Coordinator, Liz Ackerley.

How to apply

Step 1. The student should create an account for myUC and follow the instructions to complete a STAR application to enrol. During their application they need to submit a scan or photo of a completed and signed 2020 STAR Consent Form (coming soon), and a scan or photo of their citizenship document(s), see "Citizenship Documents" information below. 

Step 2. Once enrolled UC needs to receive a verification of the student’s citizenship document(s). This can be done either by:

  • Presenting the original document(s) in person at the Student Services Centre on Level 1 of the Matariki building, or
  • Sending by mail a hard copy certified by the student's Principal or a JP to: Student Services, Attention Kun Li, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch 8140.

Please note: Grades will not be released until we have verified the student’s citizenship status.

Citizenship Documents

  • New Zealand citizen: Copy of NZ birth certificate OR the photo page of your NZ passport OR Citizenship Certificate.
  • NZ Residence Class Visa Holder or Australian Permanent Resident: Copy of photo page of your passport AND proof of residency (e.g. copy of resident permit page in passport)
  • Australian citizen: Copy of Australian birth certificate OR photo page of your Australian passport OR Citizenship Certificate
  • Other: Copy of photo page of your passport AND your current student visa document. UC will liaise with Immigration New Zealand about your STAR enrolment.

An MoU 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 (coming soon). Students have to pay the UC Domestic or International tuition fee upfront, instead of us sending an invoice to the school. Students will be asked to do an audition before they are approved into these courses by the School of Music.

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. On the Course list page the STAR fees are listed for each course.

2020 Course costs ($NZ) for STAR students 
15-point courses $550
30-point courses $1,100
45-point courses $1,200 
  • The tuition fees for ECON104 and ECON105 on campus are covered by the College of Business and Law. Schools will not be invoiced for those courses.
  • The tuition fees for MATH199 (both on campus and distance) are covered by the College of Engineering. Schools will not be invoiced for that course.
  • The tuition fees for PACE195 are covered by the College of Arts. Schools will not be invoiced for that course.

We will send out invoices for the tuition fees to schools after the last date STAR students can withdraw without invoice, which is Friday 13 March 2020 for Semester 1 and Whole Year courses, and Friday 7 August 2020 for Semester 2 courses.


The UC STAR Coordinator is Franka Menzies, Academic Quality Team:

Former STAR student profiles

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