5 April 2022

Studying New Zealand courses online: What’s it really like?

Saba Shah
Undergraduate student
Kedi Zou
Undergraduate student
Anirudh Vathul Tiruvallur Thattai
Undergraduate student
Xinchen Liu (Stella)
Undergraduate student

New Zealand offers a huge range of online courses that you can do wherever you are in the world.

Over the past few years, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted plans for many students looking to come to study in New Zealand. But for many students who haven’t been able to enter New Zealand because of COVID restrictions, online learning has been a way to keep their learning goals on track, and even get the edge before traditional in-person courses start up again.

Students have greater flexibility through online learning

Saba Shah is based in India but has been studying online for a BA in Psychology and Criminology at Victoria University of Wellington since February 2021. Now in the second year of her three-year degree, she says that although she intends to move to New Zealand to complete her course in person, the online experience has been a positive one.

“Initially, I found the idea of studying online quite daunting, but I think those fears are natural with anything that’s new and different. It took me a month or so to get used to it but once I settled into it I found studying online quite straightforward.

“Since you’re studying from the comfort of your own home you have fewer distractions, and a lot more time to keep track of assignments and your learning in general. You get to meet people from all over the world virtually and also take part in events organised online.”

Saba's online study workspace

The extra flexibility that comes with online learning has also been a major benefit for Xinchen Liu (Stella), a third-year Bachelor of Commerce student at the University of Auckland. Stella is also the co-president of the New Zealand Chinese Students Association, which provides study, career and living support and services to Chinese students studying through New Zealand institutions.

“It’s a shame that I haven’t been able to make the most of the New Zealand experience because of the pandemic,” Stella says. “But the online experience has been really good in other ways.

“The main benefit is the extra flexibility I have to organise my day. I can watch the recordings whenever it suits me, which is important because of my commitments to the student association.”

New technologies have enabled a richer learning experience

Stella says her courses have been enhanced with smart use of technology.

“The university has been experimenting with different technologies to deliver the courses, so now we have the ability to make notes directly onto lecture recordings, to bookmark interesting sections, and lecturers can subtitle complex words or concepts.

Anirudh Vathul Tiruvallur Thattai is based in Mumbai, and is partway through a Bachelor of Science at Victoria University of Wellington, majoring in geology and geography. While he intends to travel to New Zealand to finish his degree, he agrees the online experience has been a positive one.

“My online classes have been extremely informative and fun, and the professors have been extremely helpful during the online lectures. They give us extra time for completing the coursework and assignment because of the time differences between New Zealand and India, and are really good at talking us through any difficulties in the curriculum.

"We had social media pages for our courses, and we would meet via Zoom to discuss assignments and review the course content. I felt as if I was in the lecture theatre with my friends and classmates.”

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The online experience continues outside the classroom

Kedi Zou is studying for a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Auckland, and began her degree online in China. Not only did she attend lectures by Zoom and complete virtual assignments, she also got practical experience by doing a micro-internship online.

“It was a three-week online internship organised by the University. The programme allowed students to finish a complete project from conducting the research, to collecting data, to developing a final report and presenting it to real employers. My project got the highly commended certificate!”

With the opening up of New Zealand’s borders, Kedi has moved to New Zealand to complete her studies and has thrown herself into student life.

“I can’t resist the chance to engage with the student community after arriving in New Zealand. I’ve joined a lot of student organisations and programmes, like the student ambassador programme organised by StudyAuckland and Education New Zealand.

“It’s really allowed me to immerse myself in New Zealand life, and learn a lot about Māori culture in particular. Although my study experience is still mostly based online, my friends back home say I’m starting to get a Kiwi accent!”

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About the contributors
Saba Shah
Undergraduate student

Saba Shah, from India, is studying online for a Bachelor of Psychology and Criminology degree at Victoria University of Wellington. She is keen to move to New Zealand to finish her studies and pursue a master's degree in clinical psychology.

Kedi Zou
Undergraduate student

Kedi Zou, from China, is studying for a Bachelor of Arts degree at The University of Auckland. She started her studies online before arriving in New Zealand to complete her degree, and is a 2022 Kiwi Ambassador for Education New Zealand.

Anirudh Vathul Tiruvallur Thattai
Undergraduate student

Indian student Anirudh is studying online for a Bachelor of Science degree, majoring in geology and geography, at Victoria University of Wellington. He intends to move to New Zealand to finish his degree once the borders open.

Xinchen Liu (Stella)
Undergraduate student

Chinese student Stella is studying online for a Bachelor of Commerce at The University of Auckland. She is the co-president of the New Zealand Chinese Students’ Association.