Covid-19 student travel considerations

Familiarise yourself with these important considerations for overseas student travel during the Covid-19 pandemic.

360 International has now opened applications for exchanges starting in Semester One 2023. For more information, please read how to apply.

All other (sub-doctoral) University-student travel, outside the semester exchange programme and limited programmes supported by or organized by the International Office, remains restricted until further notice. This position will be reviewed in the coming months. Any requests from students or staff about supporting exceptional sub-doctoral student travel can be directed to the 360 International team at 360international@auckland.ac.nz.

Doctoral candidates planning international travel should refer to the Travel preparedness page on the Staff Intranet. Requests for doctoral candidate travel do not need to be submitted to 360 International. 

The public health risk from the Covid-19 global pandemic is real. It is known to spread very quickly via person-to-person transmission, potentially without any obvious symptoms. As the pandemic continues, all international travel is subject to risks of long-term or major disruption. Additionally, it is important to consider that travel to any location carries some level of risk; many of these risks are beyond the traveller's control and some are exacerbated under Covid-19 travel conditions.

It is therefore important that all students undertaking approved University-student travel activities are aware of and understand the risks under Covid-19 travel conditions. This includes the potential health risks, as well as the potential for disrupted travel plans and limited insurance cover available for claims or financial losses related to epidemics or pandemics.

A non-exhaustive list of some of these risks is outlined here:

  • Programme expectations
  • Travel conditions and risks
  • Staying informed
  • Contingency planning
  • Academic considerations
  • Insurance
  • Personal & Financial liability

Programme expectations

The opening of applications for exchange and a subsequent nomination offer does not guarantee that the outbound exchange programme will proceed. The University of Auckland reserves the right to cancel the outbound exchange programme for any reason.

Any decisions made with regards to the operation of the outbound exchange programme will be based on the most recent information available at the time and will take into consideration various factors, including:

  • The most recent advice and policy from the New Zealand Government,
  • The status and likely stability of the quarantine-free travel,
  • Insurance cover currently on offer through New Zealand insurers as well as the host country,
  • The University of Auckland’s travel policy,
  • The cost and expectation of quarantine requirements (in and out of New Zealand) and
  • Other real and perceived risks or restrictions related to travel international travel.

Travel conditions and risks

Under the University of Auckland's travel policy, only travel to and between destinations with an MFAT travel advisory rating of 1 - Exercise normal safety and security precautions or 2 - Exercise increased caution is permitted in conjunction with approved University-student activity travel; travel to all destinations rated as 3 - Avoid non-essential travel and 4 - Do not travel is prohibited.

Only individuals with the right to return to New Zealand without requesting permission from Immigration New Zealand may be able to return to New Zealand for the duration that quarantine-free travel is suspended.

Government policies/travel restrictions, including operation of quarantine-free travel, may change at short notice; travellers may be unable to depart from - or return to - New Zealand for an extended period.

While abroad, you must abide by local government instructions and understand that cancellations and disruptions to travel arrangements, as well as local lockdowns and national lockdowns may limit or adversely impact your ability to arrive to – or depart from – your host university, as well as possibly inhibit movement within your host country.

The host university and/or the local government in your exchange destination may require you to provide proof of vaccination, submit to testing regimes, share travel and contact information upon request, and submit to self-isolation and/or quarantine at any point during my programme, and that any quarantine related costs will be at your own expense.

Arrangements for continuity of care and/or treatment of any existing medical or mental health conditions are your responsibility and should be made prior to the start of any overseas programme, and should account for possible travel restrictions and/or periods of isolation and/or lockdowns. You must also consider any health/safety/medication requirements and ensure that these can be met while travelling, including unplanned extended stays.

Staying informed

You will be responsible for ensuring you understand and meet all immigration and entry requirements for your host country as well as any country you will be travelling to or through in conjunction with your exchange.

Different states/destinations can have different requirements and rules for travellers related to Covid-19 and these requirements may change with little warning. You will be responsible for checking the conditions and requirements in each state or other destination within your host country that you intend to travel to prior to and whilst travelling and adhering to conditions/ requirements.

It is your responsibility to read all relevant information from the New Zealand Government regarding Travel on the Unite against COVID-19 website, and other applicable sources.

The New Zealand Government maintains a list of country-specific travel warnings, alerts and guidance for travellers, available at Safe Travel. University of Auckland travellers are required to read applicable travel warnings in advance and register their travel on the Safe Travel website, or their home country equivalent if not a New Zealand citizen.

You are advised to read the information available from the Government and local news sources of your prospective host country regarding travel conditions and advice for travellers planning to enter the country, checking this information well in advance and referring back to these sources on a regular basis leading up to your departure.

You will be responsible for monitoring local news sources and websites for any changes in quarantine-free travel arrangements and amending travel arrangements accordingly.

Contingency planning

It is in your best interest to have a contingency plan should you be unable to depart from New Zealand in time for the start of the host university’s semester, to either continue your exchange semester virtually (if supported by the host university) or re-enrol at the University of Auckland, and you must take this possibility into consideration when making any accommodation arrangements related to your time abroad.

You must consider and plan accordingly around any personal commitments, and have the ability to support yourself financially, in case your ability to return from overseas is unexpectedly delayed for an extended period of time. Additionally, you must consider a contingency plan for continuity of study and take with you any resources you need to study remotely if your ability to return to New Zealand is unexpectedly delayed.

Academic considerations

Your host university may modify in-person teaching and switch to remote or online instruction with little or no notice to respond to the Covid-19 situation in the host city or in response to local government instructions.

The disruptions caused due to Covid-19 during your exchange semester may affect your academic programme, and the University of Auckland may not be able to provide academic accommodations if your programme is cancelled or otherwise interrupted, and it is important to understand that any academic accommodations provided by the host university, if offered, may not be accepted by the University of Auckland.

Withdrawal from the exchange programme after the deadline for changing enrolments at the University of Auckland or after the first day of classes at the host university may result in the loss of an entire semester’s worth of credit, and you may not be eligible for a refund of fees paid.

Insurance

All students travelling overseas for exchange are responsible for ensuring they are covered with appropriate travel and medical insurance for the entire duration of travel, from time of departure from New Zealand and until return to New Zealand, and you must take responsibility for understanding any exclusions of cover in your policy. The University's preferred insurance policy is Studentsafe Outbound.

Many travel insurance policies will not cover claims or financial losses related to epidemics or pandemics, and your insurance policy may not cover evacuation or other accommodations due to disruption to travel plans resulting from the pandemic. Furthermore, the Insurance Council of New Zealand (ICNZ) has advised that border closures or travel restrictions imposed by a government are not covered by any insurer as it is not possible to develop a product that accounts for the uncertainty and the level of risk this presents. Additionally, the fear of traveling is not covered by any travel insurance policy.

If travelling to Australia: Access to publicly funded medical care in Australia is limited for New Zealand citizens, and is not a sufficient alternative to comprehensive travel and medical insurance.  New Zealand residents are responsible for purchasing the Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) insurance policy required by the Australian host university and ensuring compliance with the OSHC requirements for your study visa, if applicable.

Financial liability

Upon your return from your time abroad you may be required to stay in a Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) facility, and the details and costs of such arrangements will be solely your responsibility, and it is important to consider the potential difficulty of securing an MIQ space during your preferred dates, as a result of the limited capacity and high demand for New Zealand’s MIQ facilities.

The University of Auckland or your host university will not be financially liable for uninsurable medical costs or other unrecoverable fees, travel costs, or other personal expenditures incurred as a result of Covid-19, your programme cancellation, disruptions to travel, or changes in MIQ requirements.

Contact 360 International

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the 360 International team by emailing 360international@auckland.ac.nz.