Otago Polytechnic

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Parent and whānau information

Choosing what and where to study can seem like an overwhelming process. 

The support and advice that parents, guardians, whānau, caregivers, friends and colleagues provide to a learner when trying to make this choice is invaluable. The content below has been designed to provide you with important information about studying at Otago Polytechnic which will hopefully help you feel supported in this advisory role.

Parents' and Whānau Guide

  Why choose Otago Polytechnic?

We’re proud to be a leader in hands-on, career focused education, achieving some of the best student achievement and satisfaction results in Australasia, and earning resounding endorsements from employers.

3 campuses

We have New Zealand covered! 

You’ll find our main campus in the heart of Dunedin’s much loved scarfie-land, and we have a boutique campus in stunning Central Otago and an international campus in New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland.

We also offer flexible online learning opportunities and the chance for students to study by distance.

1st in New Zealand for qualification completions

If a learner studies with us, they have an excellent chance of success! We have the best qualification completion rate in New Zealand for our sector, according to the government’s Tertiary Education Commission.

Source: Tertiary Education Commission Educational Performance Report for 2016

97% of our graduates are in work or further study

Our students are extremely likely to get where they want to go in life. Our latest Graduate Destination Survey found 94% of our graduates are either employed or undertaking further study.

Source: Otago Polytechnic Graduate Destination Survey, 2016

92% employer approval

Employers love our graduates because they are:

  • work-ready and capable
  • innovative and motivated
  • confident and eager to learn
  • practical and solution-focused
  • global citizens who care about making a difference.
150+ programmes offering real-world experience   

Our range of programmes offer practical experience as well as theory in any chosen field, giving a learner a head start in the job market. We offer:

  • industry placements, internships and work experience
  • national and international networks and partnerships
  • extensive training facilities

…. and our qualifications are widely recognised, both in New Zealand and around the world – preparing our graduates for global career success!

43 degree/postgraduate programmes

We offer a wide range of degree and postgraduate programmes – including a Doctorate …. which are all equal to those offered at New Zealand universities.

20 New Zealand Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards

Our students are taught by some of New Zealand’s finest tertiary teachers. Since 2008, 20 of our teachers have been awarded prestigious Ako Aotearoa Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards from the government.

All our teaching staff hold, or are working towards, the Graduate Diploma in Tertiary Education (Level 7) so learners receive first-rate, high-quality teaching across the board.

In addition, our lecturers are active in their research community so students will benefit from their up-to-date industry knowledge.

1:16 teacher to student ratio

Our average teacher-to-student ratio is 1:16 – meaning that learners will be well-supported academically, benefitting from plenty of one-on-one teaching time.

24 ways to make a graduate more employable

Our Capability Framework identifies 24 personal attributes employers value, irrespective of the industry they’re in. We help our learners to develop these – and give them the documentation to prove it!

80+ international exchange partners

We offer exciting opportunities for students to gain international study and/or work experience and benefit from personal growth and development from participating in our study abroad and exchange programmes.

20+ dedicated support staff

We have more than 20 dedicated staff experts who are here to help students both inside and outside of class. 

  How do I get informed?
Get in touch – 0800 762 786

Our friendly Contact Centre staff are available to chat to you from Monday-Friday, 8.00am-5.00pm. Alternatively, you can email them on info@op.ac.nz

Come see us!

We run a range of open days, campus tours and taster days throughout the year, giving learners the chance to visit our campuses and meet their lecturers before they start. Why don’t you come along with them?

We also have a team of 20+ student ambassadors available to meet with new and prospective students and their families to pass on their inside knowledge!

Find out more here >

Talk to our Liaison Advisors

Our Liaison Advisors are here to help learners find the study option that’s right for them. Get in touch with them to start exploring study options.

Find out more here >

Helpful resources

We also offer a range of resources to help the decision-making process.

Find out more here >  


  What about choosing the right programme?

Learners decide to pursue further education for all sorts of reasons. 

That’s why at Otago Polytechnic we have all kinds of different options for our learners so they can find a pathway that matches the journey they want to take.

Study areas

Click here to view all of our programme subject areas

From Nursing and Midwifery to Horticulture and Massage Therapy, we’re proud of the variety of subject areas we can offer our learners. We often group our programme areas into overarching ‘Career Pathways’ such as Health, Community and Education or Creative. This just makes them a little easier to navigate as learners will often have an idea of the kind of thing they’re interested in. 

Foundation and bridging programmes

We offer foundation learning and bridging programmes which are a great option if a learner doesn’t have the necessary academic requirements currently to enter the programme of their choice and need to upskill. Generic foundation study is available for upskilling in areas such as literacy and numeracy or more targeted study is available in areas such as health, design or art. For example, the art and design bridging programmes gives learners the chance to develop a portfolio which they will need as to submit as a requirement to enter an art or design degree.

16-19 year olds?

For those between 16-19 who don’t already hold a Level 3 qualification, the Youth Guarantee Scheme could be a great option.

Otago Secondary-Tertiary College (OSTC)

For year 11-13 secondary school students attending a high school anywhere in Otago, this option gives them the chance to combine learning at Otago Polytechnic with studies towards their NCEA.

English language upskilling

Our English certificates will allow learners to improve their English while also helping them to prepare for further study. They have been designed to provide a clear pathway into further Otago Polytechnic qualifications.

Short courses

New skills for enjoyment or employment! Whether a learner wants to upskill or just learn something new for fun, we offer a wide range of short courses and night classes in areas such as art, design, hospitality and horticulture.

SIGNAL ICT Grad School

Developed in partnership with industry, SIGNAL has developed four programmes that cover a range of IT development needs. As well as producing highly competent IT graduates with work-relevant skills, they will provide more effective pathways for graduates from IT education into employment.

TANZ eCampus

This option, brought to students by several of New Zealand’s major tertiary education providers, will enable a learner to gain industry-recognised qualifications through flexible online study.

Capable NZ

Our world-leading assessment methods will enable a learner to gain a nationally-recognised qualification without going back to the classroom! It values the prior learning of individuals who want to become qualified, and support the workplaces that employ them.


Micro-credentials allows learners to show what they know! This is an exciting new learning platform that enables students to be recognised for your professional skills and knowledge without having to complete a formal qualification.  

  What range of qualifications do you offer? What are the entry requirements?

We offer a wide range of qualifications, from certificates through to postgraduate programmes. NZQA’s External Evaluation and Review recently awarded us the highest possible quality rating for our educational performance, and our ability to assess our own performance.

Each of our programmes have entry requirements that applicants need to meet. This information can vary per qualification and programme level. The best way to find out what entry requirements are needed is to check the programme information sheet that you can find on this website for every individual programme that we offer. For example, this is the programme information sheet for the Bachelor of Nursing.

If an applicant doesn’t meet the entry requirements for the particular programme that they’d like to pursue, don’t worry! We have a fantastic range of foundation programmes or bridging options that will enable them to build the skills and credits that they need. 

  What's the application process?

We've pulled together this step-by-step guide which should hopefully make the application process simple! 

Remember some programmes will have specific entry requirements such as submitting a portfolio (art and design programmes) or getting referee and police checks (health programmes). Specific entry requirements and supporting material are listed on all individual programme information pages.


  What about tuition fees? How much are they?
Tuition fees

These vary between programmes. The fees shown in the annual Programme Guide and on our online programme information sheets are indicative fees.  

Please note that fees are likely to increase for each year of study and additional fees may be required for external examinations, NZQA fees and/or additional programme placements, equipment or materials. Please check with the school directly if you wish to know more about this additional costs for a specific programme of study.   


Domestic student full fee payments are due within 14 days of the invoice date or by the programme/course start date, whichever is the latter.

We accept a number of payment methods including EFT POS, cheque, credit card or student loan. Cash is not a preferred payment method.

If a learner hasn't paid their fees, their enrolment is not complete.

However, they might still be able to go to classes if they are waiting for a student loan or if they prove that their employer is going to pay. If they don’t pay, they may be asked to leave the programme.

Outstanding unpaid fees will result in debt collection processes being implemented. This is undertaken through a debt collection agency. It is important to note that debt collection action would provide adverse information on a credit check and may result in a declined credit application.

If a student owes the Otago Polytechnic money for fees or any other item, the student will be prevented from graduating or receiving their awards until the debt has been paid in full. Students may also be prevented from re-enrolling in further courses of study. If they have difficulty paying, they need to talk to the Student Fees Co-ordinator. In special circumstances, they can be given a short time to make final payment.

> For more information about large cash payments for course fees and refund of fees, visit our Terms and Conditions of enrolment

Student Services Levy 

This is a compulsory fee charged per student once the student is enrolled over 20 credits (on any one enrolment). There are different levies for each campus.

Otago Polytechnic consulted with students on the Student Services Levy, the fees were set for the 2012 year and have remained unchanged since. 

In 2015, this consultation included presenting to and directly engaging with students on the type of services to be delivered, seeking student feedback on these services and how the levy would be spent.

> Find out how much the Student Services Levy is and what services it pays for 

  Is the Government’s Fees Free policy available at Otago Polytechnic?


From 2018, learners who are new to tertiary education OR who have not previously been enrolled in more than 60 credits at Level 3 or above on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF), will be able to study for free*.

The Government’s policy covers one year’s full-time study (up to $12,000 or approximately 120 credits) or two year’s part-time study.

There is no lower or upper age limit.

The easiest way for your learner to check whether they are eligible for fees-free study, is for them to use the online eligibility tool at https://www.feesfree.govt.nz/ 

They will need to enter their National Student Number (NSN) to do this. If they don’t know their NSN or don’t have one, they don’t need to worry. There is a link provided on the webpage mentioned above for those in this situation. They will be guided through some information which will help them.

> More information about eligibility, what’s covered and student loan information

*Eligibility criteria applies


  How do we sort a student loan/allowance?

Student Loans and Allowances are for domestic students only.

It is important to apply for a student loan/allowance at the same time as you apply for a programme, due to the length of time Studylink take to process.

Loan/allowance applications can be cancelled at any time if the applicant decides to withdraw their programme application or if it is unsuccessful. 

> Visit the Studylink website here

Our Customer Services team can assist you with information regarding an application and documentation required by Studylink.

Email: customerservices@op.ac.nz

Phone: 0800 762 786

  Do you offer scholarships?

We offer a variety of scholarships to assist students in many study areas. 

> Find out more here 

  What type of accommodation is available?

Where a student lives during their studies can make a big difference to their student experience. Fortunately, there are loads of great options and Otago Polytechnic will provide ongoing accommodation assistance and support. Where a learner lives will depend on which campus they choose.   

Dunedin accommodation 

Central Otago accommodation 

Auckland accommodation

  What support services do you have?

Starting life as a new student can be challenging as well as exciting. We want you to know that we’re with them every step of the way to support their journey. 

We have a broad range of support services in place to help learners through any issues that might arise, making sure that their time is rewarding and fun. We want them to be able to focus on having the most enjoyable experience possible, not spending time sweating about the other stuff! And we want that for you too! 

Our extensive support services include:

We are also the first Institute of Technology and Polytechnics to have been awarded the Rainbow Tick which shows we are a diverse and welcoming organisation.

> Find out more about our Dunedin-based support services here

> Find out more about our Central Otago-based support services here

> Find out more about our Auckland-based support services here

  What about safety and security?

Rest assured, we take the security and safety of our students very seriously.

Otago Polytechnic, the University of Otago and the New Zealand Police (we have a Campus Cop) work together so that our campus can be a safe and secure environment for all.

  • Campus Watch provides 24-hour, 365 day a year foot and mobile patrols within the Polytechnic and University grounds to provide reassurance and security to all
  • The New Zealand Police also make regular patrols in the area and are able to respond immediately to any threat to persons or property
  • Students and staff are provided with helpful safety tips to ensure they are being as safe and responsible as possible.
International students 

New Zealand is a very safe and peaceful country. It has a clean and green environment and a real sense of community. It is our primary concern and responsibility to look after our international students. Otago Polytechnic has agreed to observe and be bound by The Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016, published by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority.

  Do you offer any kind of student insurance?
Domestic students

Yes, Otago Polytechnic can now offer our domestic students access to a tailored insurance program through insurancesafeNZ.

Studentsafe Domestic is a travel insurance policy designed for New Zealand residents or citizens living and studying away from home within New Zealand. Our aim is to minimise stress related to living away from home with a policy tailored to our students’ needs.

Studentsafe Domestic Insurance offers:

  • Student contents – includes fridges, stereos, rented goods in your place of residence such as computers, laptops, tablets, watches, jewellery, musical instruments, phones, bikes etc.
  • Personal liability – includes damage to flats, halls or residence and home stay property.
  • 14 day travel cover - comprehensive travel insurance for up to 14 days for an overseas holiday in the Pacific Region.
  • Money – as a result of burglary.
  • Temporary accommodation – if your place of residence becomes uninhabitable following a claim under the policy.
  • Special student benefits:
    • If you are hospitalised and/or it’s medically necessary to return home, the airfare for one parent to accompany you, plus incidental hospital expenses.
    • Travel costs home if one of your near relatives becomes seriously ill or dies, plus your return to study.
    • Loss of deposits and cancellation costs covers other costs such as educational fees, accommodation or other deposits paid that you need to cancel if a close relative becomes seriously ill or dies.
    • Accidental death, total disablement cover, plus funeral expenses.

For further information about the policy details and to get a quote, please visit the InsurancesafeNZwebsite.

Otago Polytechnic makes a small financial gain from the premiums sold.  All of this money goes directly to Education Foundation – a programme that provides financial support for Otago Polytechnic students and staff to continue their development through study and global experience.

International students 

International students must have appropriate and current medical and travel insurance while studying in New Zealand. It is compulsory for all international students studying at Otago Polytechnic to have Unicare travel and medical insurance. Their package is called NZ Student Plan and more details can be found on the Uni-Care website. Our International Admissions Office will arrange this insurance for you and include the cost in your offer of place. Please complete this Medical Declaration if you have a pre-existing condition and send it to Otago Polytechnic with your application. 

  What's the student community like?

Life at Otago Polytechnic is about more than just study and classes – students have multiple opportunities to take part in a vibrant community-based culture of events and fun.

Otago Polytechnic Student’s Association (OPSA) is run by students, for students.

It is vital that our students have an independent organisation to represent and promote their views and interests, safeguard their welfare and ensure that they have a great experience!


OPSA manages a vast range of student services and facilities like the Unipol sport and recreation centre, Student Job Search, financial and personal advice, photocopying, binding and laminating, student ID and discount cards, cheap phone cards and much more!

Please note that some services are limited to Dunedin students.


OPSA provides access to social events, entertainment and recreation during the year, many with free entry.

Orientation gives you the opportunity to become familiar with the Polytechnic, meet other students, hear live music and participate in BBQs, quizzes, entertainment, competitions, food festivals, sports and events.

Clubs and courses (Dunedin only)

 OPSA and the Otago University Students’ Association operate Recreation Services where you can participate in a wide range of sports activities and social events.

> Click here to find out more


  Do you have a question?

Our friendly staff are here to support you every step of the way. 

Dunedin Campus 

Freephone 0800 762 786 

International +64 3 477 3014

Email info@op.ac.nz


Central Otago Campus 

Freephone 0800 765 9276 

Email central@op.ac.nz


Auckland International Campus 

Freephone 0800 111 212 

Email auckland@op.ac.nz