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

Where can I find info about Covid and how it's been managed at OP?

We've created a dedicated page that lets parents, whānau and our wider community see how we're dealing with Covid-19 at Otago Polytechnic. 

See page here >

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.

High graduate success

Our students are extremely likely to get where they want to go in life. Our latest Graduate Destination Survey found 97% of our graduates are either employed or undertaking further study.

Source: Otago Polytechnic Graduate Destination Survey, 2018

91% student satisfaction with our services

We are proud to maintain consistently-high student satisfaction levels, as measured by our annual Student Satisfaction Survey. The latest results show that 91% of our learners are satisfied with the services we provide. 

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.

Making our graduates 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 through
our online i am capable tool!

Dedicated support staff

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

Three 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. 

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.

Among our offerings are 43 degree and postgraduate qualifications, which are equal to those offered at universities...and our qualifications are widely recognised, both in New Zealand and around the world – preparing our graduates for global career success! 

Small class sizes - better attention

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

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.

How do I contact you for advice?
Get in touch 

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

Dunedin Campus 

New Zealand 0800 762 786 

International +64 3 477 3014


Central Otago Campus 

New Zealand 0800 765 9276 

International +64 3 445 9900


Auckland International Campus 

New Zealand 0800 111 212 

International +64 9 309 0301


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 >

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 >

Helpful resources

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

Find out more >  

I'm thinking of sending my tamariki to Otago Polytechnic - who can I talk to?

Tena koutou e te whanau,

How awesome that you are thinking about sending your tamariki to Otago Polytechnic!

Our friendly team at Te Punaka Ōwheo would be proud to show you what Otago Polytechnic has to offer in person. Please do not hesitate to contact us to arrange a tour.

If you can’t visit us in person and want to know more about how Otago Polytechnic will care for your uri, check out our website and/or get in touch with us by email ( or phone (0800 762 786).

Kia ora,

Nā Te Punaka Owheo/Maori student success team

What about the Government’s Vocational Education Reform? What impact will this have on my learner?

The Government is making changes to the polytechnic sector in New Zealand – but our high-quality Otago Polytechnic programmes and fantastic student experience will remain the same! 

Te Pūkenga (the name of the new entity) will bring together the country’s 16 institutes of technology and polytechnics as a single national campus network that will provide both work-based and off-the-job vocational learning and training. 

Find out more >

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. 

My learner is thinking of enrolling in 2022 – will the same range of study options be available due to the reform?

Yes, the same study options will be available in 2022. 

Check out our range of study areas >

And what about multi-year programmes? Can my learner be confident enrolling in those due to the reform?


Current and prospective learners can enrol in multi-year programmes at Otago Polytechnic with confidence, knowing they will graduate as Otago Polytechnic students and have access to all the student support that we currently offer. 

The Government has also confirmed that degrees and postgraduate provision in polytechnics will continue into the future, with no intentions to change. Otago Polytechnic will continue to apply to NZQA for further programme approvals.

How do we choose the right programme?

Learners decide to pursue further education for all sorts of reasons. That’s why at Otago Polytechnic we have different options for our learners so they can find a pathway that matches the journey they want to take.

Study areas and pathways

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. 

View all of our study areas >

Foundation Learning

We offer foundation learning and bridging programmes which are a great option

If a learner doesn’t have the necessary academic requirements to enter the programme of their choice, our foundation and bridging options are a great way to help them upskill.

Generic foundation study is available 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 to submit as a requirement to enter an art or design degree.

All foundation and bridging programmes > 

Youth options
  • For those between 16-19 who don’t already hold a Level 3 qualification, the Youth Guarantee Scheme could be a great option. Find out more > 
  • And for year 11-13 secondary school students attending a high school anywhere in Otago, our Otago Secondary-Tertiary College (OSTC) gives them the chance to combine learning at Otago Polytechnic with studies towards their NCEA. Find out more > 

English Language 

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. Find out more > 

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. Find out more > 


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. Find out more > 

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. Find out more > 


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. Find out more >   

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 and how do they get paid?

Tuition fees

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

As a rough estimate....

Domestic fees 

  • Six-month NZ Certificate: $3,000-$6,000
  • One year NZ Diploma: $7,000-$9,000
  • Three year Degree: $7,000-$11,000 (per year)
  • Six month PG Certificate: $4,000-$6,000
  • One year PG Diploma: $7,000-$9,000
  • One year Master: $5,000-$7,000

International fees: 

  • Six-month NZ Certificate: $11,000-$12,000
  • One year NZ Diploma: $22,000-$23,000
  • Three year Degree: $20,000-$28,000 (per year)
  • Six month PG Certificate: $13,000-$14,000
  • One year PG Diploma: $23,000-$24,000
  • One year Master: $24,000-$25,000

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 us directly if you wish to know more about the 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.

  Dunedin Distance Central Otago
ID Card $15.00 $15.00 $15.00
Student Health and Counselling $215.00 N/A $215.00
Learner/Student Services $426.00 $251.00 $346.00
Total $656.00 $266.00 $576.00

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

In 2019, 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 

Are there any free or discounted ways of studying?


Don't let the cost of education put your learner off studying. There are lots of ways to study for free or get funding to reduce tuition fees. 

Initiatives like the Targeted Training and Apprenticeship Fund (TTAF), Fees Free and the Youth Guarantee Scheme are all examples of this. 

We've pulled all this info together on this Ways to pay for study webpage > 

How do we sort a student loan/allowance?

Student Loans and Allowances are for domestic students only.

It is important that a learner applies for a student loan/allowance at the same time as they 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

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


Phone: 0800 762 786

Do you offer scholarships?

Yes, we offer a variety of scholarships to assist prospective and current students in many study areas. 

> Find out more 

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! 

Extensive support services

These include:

And, 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.

Dedicated support website

Our student support and services website is packed with learning and wellbeing resources! 

More information 

> Dunedin-based support services

> Central Otago-based support services

> Auckland-based support services 

And will these services still be provided to students even though there's a reform?

We do not anticipate any reduction in services to students. The Government has stated current student support mechanisms will continue so our learners will have access to all of the student support that we currently offer. 

We even have a dedicated student support website crammed full of advice, help and resources >

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?
For 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.

For 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.

> Find out more 

What are your standard study dates?

> Click here for our important dates and holidays.