Student travel considerations, risks and responsibilities

This page outlines important student travel considerations, risks and responsibilities for any student planning to undertake University student activity travel in the context of current international travel conditions.

Travel to any location carries some level of risk. Risks of travel to any destination may include (but are not limited to) dangers to health and personal safety, including physical, emotional or psychological injury or death posed by a natural disaster, illness, disease, terrorism, crime, civil unrest, and/or violence. These risks can never be eliminated. As we have seen through the COVID-19 pandemic, international travel is also subject to risks of long-term or major disruption.

It is therefore important that any student undertaking international travel for the purposes of University student travel activity understands the following considerations, risks and responsibilities, given the current climate of international destination travel.

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 and a subsequent nomination offer for a programme does not guarantee that the programme will proceed. The University of Auckland reserves the right to cancel overseas programmes and University-student travel activity for any reason.

Any decisions made with regards to the operation of University student travel activities, including the outbound exchange programme and other learning abroad opportunities, 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 University student activity travel.
  • Travel to any destination with an MFAT travel advisory rating of (3) Avoid non-essential travel or (4) Do not travel is prohibited, unless approved through the University’s high-risk travel approval process.
  • 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 in the event that quarantine-free travel is suspended.
  • Government policies/travel restrictions, including allowances for quarantine-free travel, may change at short notice; travellers may be unable to depart from, or return to, New Zealand for an extended period of time.
  • While abroad, travellers 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 the ability to arrive to, or depart from, the intended destination, as well as possibly inhibit movement within the host country.
  • In the event of an emergency, depending on conditions the University of Auckland may require travellers to temporarily suspend operations, re-locate, or return to New Zealand until it is safe to return to the area.
  • The NZ Embassy nearest your destination may temporarily close or suspend public services for security reasons.
  • The NZ Embassy nearest your destination may not be able to provide emergency assistance should you require it.
  • If there is a need to evacuate in an emergency, flights may be suspended and other departure or shelter in place options may be limited or non-existent.
  • Access to hospitals, emergency medical care and medications may be limited or non-existent; Should you experience difficulties, the University of Auckland, associated insurance companies, and emergency service providers may not be able to provide immediate assistance to you.
  • Host institutions and/or the local government in the intended travel destination may require that travellers 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 the programme, and any quarantine related costs will be at the traveller’s own expense, unless covered by insurance.
  • Travellers may be required to isolate in a Managed Isolation & Quarantine (MIQ) facility upon return to NZ or their country of origin during a pause or suspension in quarantine or (self)isolation free travel. Travellers should consider the potential difficulty of securing an MIQ space for a timely return to New Zealand as a result of limited capacity and high demand for New Zealand’s MIQ facilities, when in operation.

Staying informed

  • Travellers are responsible for ensuring they understand and meet all immigration and entry requirements for their intended destination country as well as any country they will be travelling to or through in conjunction with their University programme activity.
  • Different states/destinations can have different requirements and rules for travellers related to COVID-19 and these requirements may change with little warning. Travellers are responsible for checking the conditions and requirements in each state or other destination within the host country that they intend to travel to prior to and whilst travelling and adhering to conditions/ requirements for the respective destination.
  • Travellers are responsible for reading all relevant information from the NZ 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 SafeTravel. University of Auckland travellers are required to read applicable Travel Warnings in advance and must register their travel on the SafeTravel website, or their home country’s equivalent to SafeTravel if not a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident, in addition to completing the required University student travel registration form (or Semester Exchange Travel and Insurance Registration).
  • It is the traveller’s responsibility to read information available from the Government and local news sources of the 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 departure.
  • Travellers are responsible for monitoring local news sources and websites for any changes in quarantine-free travel arrangements, amending travel arrangements accordingly and providing updated travel itinerary details to the University of Auckland for any changes.


Contingency planning

  • Travellers must consider contingency planning for the possibility that travel may be delayed, paused or suspended for an extended period which may delay the traveller’s return to New Zealand. Travellers must bring any equipment they need to study remotely in case travel is unexpectedly delayed.
  • 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. Travellers must also consider any health/safety/ medication requirements and ensure that these can be met while travelling, including unplanned extended stays.


Academic Considerations for Exchange participants

  • Your host university may modify in-person teaching and switch to remote or online instruction with little or no notice to respond to developing health or security risks in the host city or in response to local government instructions.
  •  The disruptions caused due to world events 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, whichever is earlier, 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 (Semester Exchange participants)

  • 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

  • Costs associated with government imposed COVID border or travel restrictions are not insurable. Additionally, the fear of traveling is not covered by the University’s travel insurance policy.
  • University student travellers must be prepared to personally cover any uninsurable or other unrecoverable fees, travel costs, or other personal expenditures incurred as a result of Covid-19, University student activity or programme cancellations, disruptions to travel, or changes in Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) requirement


Covid-19 Insurance Cover

Provided that a traveller meets the eligibility for coverage the University Student Travel Insurance Terms and Conditions and the traveller does not commence their journey against the New Zealand Government's advice (‘Do not travel’ or ‘Avoid non-essential travel’) or against local government advice at the overseas destination: 

  • There is generally cover for Covid-19 related loss including medical expenses, emergency assistance and cancellation/travel disruption expenses.
  • If the traveller was to test positive for Covid-19 and be unable to continue their travel plans, the traveller can claim for cancellation of travel plans or travel disruption for an unforeseen event; Loss of Deposits, Cancellation and Travel Disruption Expenses. The traveller would need to be able to provide proof of the positive test result received for a claim to be accepted.
  • If during a journey, the traveller is denied boarding of any scheduled transport service based on the suspicion that they have an epidemic or pandemic disease (such as Covid-19), and as a result of the denied boarding they incur costs of additional accommodation and meals, these costs can be claimed, the value of NZ$200 per day up to a maximum of NZ$1400.

Please review the Covid-19 Benefits Guide for further details on benefits available to travellers covered under the University's Premier Corporate Insurance Policy (please note this excludes exchange and study abroad participants with programmes of one semester or longer).

Semester Exchange participants are advised to read their insurance policy wording carefully to confirm benefits available for claims and losses related to COVID-19.