A new scholarship appeared on the University’s website this week that would provide $10,000 in tuition fees towards one year of study for select international postgrad students.
The Otago International Excellence Scholarship aims to support “high-achieving” students who are starting postgrad study next year, including those engaged in distance learning. An unlimited number will be given out based on “academic excellence, diversity, and leadership potential”. There is no formal application process, and students will be notified on their offer of place if they’ve been offered the money.
Yearly international postgrad fees - for everything besides a PhD - average around $33,000, which is still cheaper than many American universities. This price tag was described by myself, an international student, as “daunting, stressful and potentially prohibitive”.
The existing Otago International Master's Research Scholarship offers $15,000 to just eight students per year. The Coursework Master's Scholarship offers $10,000 to students doing, shockingly, a coursework master’s. No research can be involved. Neither of these are available to students completing a PGDip or Hons degree.
The news of potential free money comes as a welcome relief for the few international students who have remained here since the borders shut. For more than one student that Critic spoke with, it has been the “deciding factor” in whether or not they will continue their studies at Otago or return home.
When Colleen, a rising oceanography or marine science grad student, found out about the scholarship, she said “that's huge! I’ll definitely be staying in NZ now, haha”. Joni, who was on the fence, said that the news “totally incentivizes me to apply to a masters program”.
Arina Aizal, OUSA’s international rep, said that such a scholarship “is definitely something needed for the future of international students at Otago.” The scholarship is also available to those completing their degrees virtually, who may be applying from overseas.
International students represent a major source of income for New Zealand, as well as a normally obvious presence on Otago’s campus. By chipping away at a hefty price tag, this new scholarship will help keep that international community alive.