Updates for International Students

Find key information and guidance for all UC international students, whether you are studying in New Zealand or overseas. 


International Student Arrival Week

Throughout the year, we have the privilege of welcoming new and returning international students into the UC whānau.

  • Book your appointment for International Enrolment in Person here.
  • UC offers an International Student Welcome for all international students arriving to study at UC for the first time. This programme will help you get settled to start your semester, introducing you to specific learning-related information at UC here as well as a great opportunity to meet fellow students, services on campus and student leaders. 
  • Each year UC Herea tō waka Orientation Day (O Day) has a full programme of information sessions and social activities designed to help new students get the best start for day one at UC.
  • Te Pātaka is UC’s student services hub, it is the first place to visit if you’ve got a question or need help with something while you’re studying at UC. Te Pātaka is located in the centre of Ilam campus on levels 2 and 3 in Puaka-James Hight Central Library. Commonly used services are student enrolment, finance, course planning. 

International Student Support

Q: What extra help is available to help me while I study? You can have a look at all of the Student Support available to you and refer to the list of services below. 

  • IRO International support and engagement staff are based in Te Pātaka Hub at the International desk. If you are unsure who to speak with, or where to go, come along to see the team who can assist you or guide you on other specialist student support services. 
  • Kaitoko, First Year Advisors, have a team of specialists with academic knowledge. They can help you with your first year courses, changes, degree planning and study pathways email firstyearadvice@canterbury.ac.nz
  • Student Care Advisors, provide practical and confidential advice for your well being and success as a UC student - you can request to meet with the International Advisor Rika Savage email studentcare@canterbury.ac.nz
  • Academic Skills Centre / Pokapu Pukenga Ako- free academic advisory service and resource hub to help you improve your writing and study strategies - academicskills@canterbury.ac.nz They run English Language support throughout the year and a variety of workshops to help you understand how the university works email academicskills@canterbury.ac.nz
  • Te Ratonga Whaikaha|Student Accessibility Service can make sure you have equal access to all that UC offers by partnering with you, including assistive technology. Whatever your needs – UC is here to help you.
  • Pasifika Student support services. Advisors, academic support, tutors and social events email-
  • UC supports LGBTQIA+ students with assistance on and off campus and celebrates sexual and gender diversity on campus. For more information on how to arrange use of your preferred names, updates, and events register here.
  • Faculty Student Advisors - please liaise with your Faculty advisor
  • Postgradute office, support, information on childcare, accommodation, supervisors, email postgraduate-office@canterbury.ac.nz
  • UCSA Student International Advocates - provide advice on your situation, future options and provide support on navigating the university system help@ucsa.org.nz 
  • There are also numerous resources to help you with your study in LEARN

General Support

Q: Who can I talk to if I have questions about my study and life in New Zealand in general?

Your health and well-being are extremely important. The Student Care Team is available for private consultations in person or virtually. If you would like to talk with someone, please make an appointment using their online booking system. The UC Student Care Team website also has lists of existing online resources that you might find useful. One particular link is to the Mental Health Foundation of NZ webpage – it has a whole section on Apps, e-therapy and guided self-help

The International Relationships Office – iro@canterbury.ac.nz are here to help you navigate your transition into your new world. We encourage you to go directly to the specialist support services available, however, if you feel a little lost or are keen to get more involved on campus– just reach out and we can help guide you. The internationalisation desks are located at Te Pātaka.

Financial Support

There are many financial hardship support mechanisms provided by UC and the UCSA. This support is design to help with immediate, short-term emergencies/unexpected costs, and they cannot be used for tuition fees. Applicants will need to provide evidence to support their hardship applications. In general, one needs to have less than $1000 in the bank to qualify as having hardship.

Please note that all international students are required to provide proof of funds to Immigration New Zealand when applying for a student visa. If you have been granted a student visa for a year and have provided financial documents to Immigration to prove your financial capability, you will need to explain the reasons for seeking hardship support at this point.

Examples of hardship:

  • You are on a tight budget and have an unexpected dental bill to pay
  • You rely on regular money transfer from home & unexpected issue disrupted the immediate transfer schedule

What is not regarded as hardship:

  • Perceived loss of income due to not being able to get a job
  • Failing courses and having to pay fees to repeat them

If you are unsure about whether your circumstances fit with the description above, please contact the UCSA Welfare & Advocacy Team in the first instance. We appreciate that all international students would feel impacted by COVID-19 in their unique ways. However, it is important to remember that these funds are established to protect and care for the most vulnerable and most affected students.

Q: I’m financially struggling - what can I do?

If you are experiencing financial hardship that will have an impact on your studies, you may be eligible for financial support. Please contact the UCSA Advocacy & Welfare team in the first instance to discuss your situation. UCSA Advocates will assess your circumstances and may make a further referral to Student Care if your situation fits the criteria for International Student Welfare Fund.  

The New Zealand Ministry of Education provides information here. Please don’t be too proud to ask for help. These are difficult times and these organisations are here to help you.

Visa Information 

Q: I want to drop down a course this semester - will this affect my visa?

In the first instance, please contact the Student Care Team (studentcare@canterbury.ac.nz) to discuss your circumstances.

Immigration New Zealand requires a minimum of three courses (minimum of 45-course points per semester) to qualify for a student visa. At this stage, Immigration has not changed this requirement for student visa holders. 

We also suggest you discuss changes to your courses with your course coordinators. 

Q: How can I extend my student visa?

From 15 December 2021, you will no longer be able to apply for your student visa through UC (Provider Direct). You must instead apply online with Immigration New Zealand. You are advised to apply as soon as possible.

You are recommended to create a verified RealMe account in preparation for your visa application. 

You can request assistance by emailing: student-visa@canterbury.ac.nz



Update on international students' ability to travel to New Zealand

New Zealand is now fully open, and all border restrictions related to Covid-19 have ceased. Immigration New Zealand recommenced the processing of all visa categories, including student visas.

It is our expectation that students currently based offshore (learning online) will be on-campus for the start of semester one - February 2023. This means you need to start making plans to join us in Christchurch, including preparing your New Zealand Student Visa Application.  

You can also start to look over our Prepare for your move to NZ section on our webpage. here you will find links for enrolment, arriving in Christchurch, insurance and the UC Checklist.  If you have any questions about your arrival and enrolment transitioning to on campus, email Candice Houghton on iro@canterbury.ac.nz

What if I can't come to New Zealand for semester one 2023?

If you have an exceptional reason for not being able to travel to New Zealand, you will need to reach out to your faculty directly to see what options are available to you to continue your online learning, this will depend on which courses are available to enrol in via distance (D occurrence). Some examples of why you may not be able to travel to New Zealand are:   

  • you only have one semester to complete your degree;
  • You are not issued a New Zealand student visa.

It is at the discretion of your faculty as to whether you can study from overseas for the rest of your degree.  

New to UC? Check out our Online to On-Campus pathway offerings for 2023

Where do I find information about online enrolment and orientation for 2023?

  • Online Orientation Programme is across two information sessions for all new international students and will be held on 15 and 16 February 2023 via Zoom. This online orientation is an important way to prepare yourself to start university and discover all the support services available to you as a UC online student. If you can we highly recommend that you attend the live session, but if you are unable to. The session recording and start-up information will be available on the Offshore, Online Learning support LEARN page.
  • Information on enrolling online, uploading documents and using AKO | LEARN can all be found here.
  • There are also resources to help you with your study to AKO | LEARN. If you are experiencing particular difficulties adjusting to learning in the online environment, it’s important to reach out to your course coordinators and let them know. 

What support services are available for online learning?

UC has many services in place to support you in your online learning. This includes dedicated online learning support and engagement staff, academic support, e-learning tools, and a range of student care services.

  • Student Care Advisors - provide practical advice for your well being and success as a UC student - studentcare@canterbury.ac.nz
  • Academic Skills Centre / Pokapu Pukenga Ako - free advisory service and resource hub to help you improve your writing and study strategies. The UC Academic Skills Centre (ASC) offers distance students support for 1-1 appointment, some quick queries are answered here. You can contact ASC by phone: +64 (03) 369 3900 or Toll-Free 0800 827 748, and ask for the Academic Skills Centre or email academicskills@canterbury.ac.nz to make an appointment.
  • UC Library supports your learning and provides access to the research database. UC Library provides some key online services including Ask Live chatbox, specialist subject librarians, and access to the online research database. 
  • Equity and Diversity Services - provide a range of supports for students with disabilities - eds@canterbury.ac.nz
  • College Student Advisors - please liaise with your college advisor
  • UCSA Student Advocate - provide advice on your situation, future options and provide support on navigating the university system help@ucsa.org.nz

See all support services here

Visa information

Do I need a valid student visa to begin my studies online?
You do not need a valid student visa to begin your studies online outside of New Zealand, but you will need one before you travel to UC. It is still important to ensure you would be eligible for a student visa to be able to travel to New Zealand and continue your studies when the New Zealand border is reopened to student visa holders.

You can check the Immigration New Zealand website for updates.

What if my travel to New Zealand is delayed?

If you are an international student impacted by COVID-19 please contact our International Team iro@canterbury.ac.nz so we can keep you fully informed.

Border Exception Cohort Update

New Zealand is now fully open and all border restrictions related to Covid-19 have ceased. At 11.59pm on 31 July 2022 Immigration New Zealand recommenced the processing of all visa categories, including student visas. You no longer require a border exception to apply for a student visa. 

If you are planning to start (or continue) your UC studies on campus, Immigration New Zealand has requested that you submit your student visa application no earlier than 3 months ahead of your planned arrival date in New Zealand. 

For more information please visit Immigration New Zealand’s webpage.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to UC’s International Support team for ongoing support with your online learning.