Border exemptions for international postgraduate students

In October 2020, the New Zealand Government announced the introduction of a border exception category that will allow 250 eligible PhD and masters students to return to Aotearoa New Zealand in 2021 in order to continue their study. 

This initiative has been welcomed by Universities New Zealand, the sector voice for all eight universities, who have been working together with the government to enable a pilot programme with a small cohort of students from across all New Zealand universities.

New Zealand Universities are supporting international students’ return and transition back to on-campus study, and have agreed to pay half the student’s cost for managed isolation and quarantine. The 50% applies to the student only and is not extended to any partners or dependents travelling with them.

We are working quickly to identify students who meet the Government criteria and have the ability to return to New Zealand. Priority will be given to doctoral students who have a practical component of their research, which cannot be completed overseas.  Invitations will be extended to eligible masters students if spaces are available.

What is happening?

The exception means Aotearoa New Zealand Universities can welcome back a proportion of PhD and masters students, currently based overseas, whose study has been disrupted due to COVID-19.

To be eligible, students need to have been enrolled prior to the border closures and have or have had a visa to study in 2020. Students approved to enter Aotearoa New Zealand need to stay in a government-led Managed isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) facility for 14 days before returning to campus. 

A nomination process has been established and each University will identify students who meet the criteria and are able to travel to Aotearoa New Zealand at this time. Immigration New Zealand will then invite students to confirm their interest to travel to Aotearoa New Zealand for study and complete the necessary requirements for travel, immigration and managed isolation and quarantine.

What do students need to do?

Students don’t need to do anything. UC are working quickly to identify students who are eligible based on the prioritisation criteria, and will be in touch directly to guide them through each stage of the process. 

What is UC’s role in the process?

The Postgraduate Research Office will contact eligible students and their supervisors directly and guide them through the process.

If you have any questions, please email