Since mid-2019 there were rumours that University of Otago medical students were not completing their elective places in Bosnia - but it took three months to gather the evidence needed for a formal investigation, the university has disclosed.
There have been allegations some final-year medical students chose specific medical centres in Belize, Bosnia and Italy where they could get their placement signed off after a week or less, before going on holiday.
Interns spend 12 weeks on placements, which can be completed overseas.
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Allegations have been made a group of students this year have used all or part of their placements as a holiday, lying in interviews, and faking elective reports.
A university spokeswoman said the situation was brought to the attention of the Christchurch Dean, and discussed by the Otago Medical School executive in July. The conveners of the sixth year or trainee intern year in all three campuses were asked to investigate and report back.
"This involved reviewing where students went, gathering student and supervisor reports from throughout the year and talking to relevant students. Enough evidence was gathered by September to establish the need for a formal investigation," she said.
Each intern receives a $26,756 Government grant covering their training for the whole of the year of which the overseas placements form a portion of up to 12 weeks.
However, the spokeswoman said that did not cover fares if students chose to travel to gain practical experience, and students were not paid by the hospitals or organisations they worked for while overseas.
"Most medical schools have an elective component to their programme.
"The elective allows students to choose how and where they spend 12 weeks of work and study so they can individualise their training. Many choose to travel overseas to get experience in healthcare systems other than New Zealand's, or places specialising in areas they are particularly interested in such as paediatrics or infectious diseases.
"Others choose to do research projects, while some opt to work in developing countries with need for medical professionals. If they choose an overseas placement, students pay their own fares if they travel, and are not paid by the hospitals or organisations they work for during that time."
The university did not want to give any further information until the process was complete.
"The outcome, including any implications for future supervision of electives, is expected in the next two-three weeks," she said.