COVID-19 (coronavirus) information

COVID-19 (coronavirus) information

Last updated 6 October 2020
Last updated 6 October 2020

Bulletin – Tertiary Provider and International Bulletin

COVID-19 update – change in Alert Levels

The Prime Minister has advised the outcome of the review of Alert Level settings for Auckland, made by Cabinet today.
 
From 11.59pm Wednesday 7 October, Auckland will join the remainder of New Zealand, and move to Alert Level 1.

While this is good news, COVID-19 will be with us for many months to come. New cases in our communities remain a possibility, as happened with this recent resurgence in Auckland. It is important we avoid complacency and remain vigilant.

NZ COVID Trace App QR code posters continue to be required to be on display at Alert Level 1 and you will need to be ready to support health authorities with contact tracing, should new cases emerge in your community.

Public health measures will also help to reduce transmission of illness:

  • maintain your good cleaning and disinfecting practices
  • keep encouraging good hygiene standards
  • people who are unwell should stay away, and seek medical advice
  • everyone should get tested if recommended to do so by health professionals.

Face coverings are not required on public transport at Alert Level 1 but continue to be an option for individuals.

For more detailed information on public health measures for tertiary providers at Alert Level 1, please refer to our website.  General information and information can also be found on the COVID19.govt.nz website.

Guidance for TEOs on examinations at different Alert Levels

TEOs should have plans worked out for how they will run exams at different Alert Levels. We encourage TEOs to maintain an open and ongoing dialogue with their students and staff about arrangements for examinations. Particular consideration should be given to students and staff who are considered ‘at risk’ (or live with others who are ‘at risk’), and alternative arrangements for these individuals may be needed.

The number one priority remains the welfare of staff and students and ensuring that they remain safe and well through the examination period. 

On-site examinations are allowed at Alert Levels 1, 2 and 3

On-site tertiary-level exams are able to proceed at Alert Levels 2 and 3, though strict physical distancing of at least 1.5 metres must be in place. Because of these physical distancing requirements, there are no restrictions on the number of students attending an examination in a single venue (even Alert Level 3), though capacity must be managed to ensure physical distancing is maintained at all times. There is no physical distancing requirement for tertiary examinations at Alert Level 1.

TEOs may decide to conduct some examinations online regardless of Alert Level (where this is possible) to ensure that sufficient space is available for those assessments which can only be conducted on-site.

In the unlikely case that a region or regions were placed under Alert Level 4, exams will not be able to go ahead in those regions as TEOs must close their facilities.

Rules for on-site examinations at Alert Levels 1, 2, and 3

  • If a TEO is at the centre of or implicated in an outbreak or cluster and/or has been closed by a Medical Officer of Health, exams will not be able to take place until public health authorities give approval.
  • Anyone (students and staff) who is unwell should stay away.
  • Those students identified as close contacts of a confirmed case should not attend their exam(s).
  • Handwashing before entering the exam room (hand sanitiser at the entrance to the room would be ideal).
  • High touch surfaces should be cleaned regularly - before each exam session is recommended.
  • If operating exams at Alert Level 2 or 3, TEOs should ensure there is a gap of 1.5 metres between students in all directions.
  • Because physical distancing will be in place for all examinations, there are no specific restrictions on the number of students attending an examination in a single venue at Alert Levels 1, 2, and 3, though if operating at Alert Levels 2 or 3, capacity must be managed to ensure physical distancing of 1.5 metres is maintained at all times.
  • Students should be observed by staff on arrival checking for symptoms and asking those presenting as unwell to make arrangements to go home.
  • A room should be available to isolate a student (or staff member) who may become unwell during the exam.
  • Contact tracing systems, including the display of COVID Tracer App QR codes, should be in place.
  • Face coverings are not required in any exam setting (unless this is a normal part of that examination), however individuals who choose to wear a face covering should be supported to do so.
  • Use rooms where you can ensure good ventilation.

At Alert Level 2, TEOs should give consideration to how they will encourage students to keep a reasonable distance from each other before entering and leaving the exam room.
 
At Alert Level 3, there are some additional requirements for any on-site exams to proceed – these can be found here.

For regular teaching and learning activities (other than exams), TEOs should follow the rules set out in the detailed guidelines for TEOs at different Alert Levels.

Increase in class ‘bubble size’ at Alert Level 3

When TEOs have been operating at Alert Level 3 in the past, for classes/workshops etc. where it was not possible to deliver teaching online, small and stable class ‘bubbles’ of up to 10 students and staff were allowed, provided physical distancing of at least 1 metre and contact tracing measures were in place.

If a region (or regions) were to move up to Alert Level 3 again in the future, TEOs in those areas may now run small and stable class bubbles of up to 20 students and staff.

TEOs may run on-site workshop/lab/classes etc. at Alert Level 3 if the following conditions are met:

  • It is not possible to deliver that particular piece of teaching online.
  • The bubble is limited to 20 persons or less (including the staff and students), and students and staff cannot be part of different bubbles.
  • At least 1 metre physical distancing and contact tracing measures (including COVID Tracer App QR Codes) must be in place.
  • Courses where close contact is unavoidable must remain online only (e.g. physiotherapy).
  • TEOs must ensure any on-site workshop/lab/class etc. is 2 hours or less in duration and takes place in a well-ventilated area.
  • Any equipment/tool used by one student must be sanitised before it is used by another student within the same class bubble (or used by a different bubble).
  • In addition to ensuring different class bubbles do not come into direct contact, where possible, TEOs should also ensure separate bathroom/kitchen facilities are used by each class bubble (unless these facilities are sanitised between different groups use them).

Note that this bubble size limit does not apply to examinations, but that there are a different set of requirements for running on-site examinations at Alert Level 3.

Things change quickly so stay up to date by following the links below:

For health advice, please refer to the Ministry of Health’s website.

https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus

For cross-agency information about COVID-19, including what support is available, health advice, and travel restrictions visit the All-of-Government website https://www.govt.nz/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/

For resources in Te Reo Māori, visit https://covid19.govt.nz/updates-and-resources/translations/te-reo-maori/

For information to support Pacific communities, visit https://www.facebook.com/MinistryforPacificPeoples/

For resources in sign language and easy read formats.

To keep updated on travel restrictions and visa information visit https://www.immigration.govt.nz/about-us/media-centre/news-notifications/coronavirus-update-inz-response

For additional advice for tertiary providers/whare wānanga visit the Ministry of Education website http://www.education.govt.nz/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-3/       

Update: 21 September 2020: COVID-19 update - change in Alert Levels

COVID-19 UPDATE  

COVID-19 update – change in Alert Levels

The government has today announced that:

Auckland will move to Alert Level 2 from 11.59pm, Wednesday September 23rd 2020. Cabinet will meet again on Monday 5th October 2020 to review the Auckland settings, with any changes in Alert Levels taking effect at 11.59pm on Wednesday 7th October 2020. 

The rest of New Zealand will move to Alert Level 1 from 11.59pm, Monday 21st September 2020.

You will be familiar with guidance for tertiary education organisations (TEOs) on how to operate under different Alert Levels. This detailed guidance can be found on the Ministry of Education website.

The main points for teaching and learning at Alert Level 2 in Auckland are:

  • At Alert Level 2, there are no size restrictions for lectures and classes, though TEOs should limit capacity to enable physical distancing of one metre, where possible
  • Gatherings that are not directly education-related, such as speaking events open to the public, cultural events, social events, etc. should follow the public health control measure that apply to that type gatherings, including any restrictions on number of attendees.

International students remaining in New Zealand over summer 2020/2021

With the current border restrictions on movement in and out of New Zealand, tertiary-level international students will need to make careful and informed decisions about their plans for the summer period. 

International students facing hardship will need to reconsider whether they should continue to stay in New Zealand or are better to return home. 

Any international student who chooses to return home (or otherwise leave New Zealand) over the summer break needs to be aware that they are not eligible to re-enter the country to continue study in early 2021 under current border settings.

Options for students currently studying in New Zealand

International students studying in New Zealand who intend to continue study in 2021 have the following options at the end of this academic year. They can: 

  • remain in New Zealand over summer break and continue their New Zealand study in 2021.
  • return home and continue their New Zealand study online in 2021, if their institution has been approved to support this option 
  • return home and cease their New Zealand study 

TEOs are asked to ensure they are familiar with their ongoing International Code obligations over the summer period, and to assist students to understand their options.

There is some important information you need to be aware of if your international students choose to remain in New Zealand over summer. You can find on Ministry of Education website

Additional support for NCEA students whose learning has been disrupted by COVID-19

The government has announced additional support for NCEA students to help mitigate the impact of the continuing disruption from COVID-19. 

Auckland-based students working towards NCEA can now earn up to six extra Learning Recognition (LR) Credits at Level 1, and up to four extra LR credits at Levels 2 and 3. The credits required for these students to be awarded a Certificate Endorsement have been reduced by two further credits, from 46 credits to 44 credits at Merit or Excellence level.

Students who are enrolled this year in a tertiary Vocational Pathway or NCEA programme, such as a Youth Guarantee Fees Free programme, are also eligible for the LR credits.

TEOs should be proactively communicating to students what the requirements are for limited entry programmes this year.

Things change quickly so stay up to date by following the links below:

For health advice, please refer to the Ministry of Health’s website.

For cross-agency information about COVID-19, including what support is available, health advice, and travel restrictions visit the All-of-Government website

For additional advice for tertiary providers/whare wānanga visit the Ministry of Education website.     

Update: 18 September 2020: Amendment of Guidance for Tertiary Education Organisations at Level 2.5

This tertiary bulletin provides an update for Tertiary Education Organisations (TEOs) on the amendments we have made to the guidance for TEOs on how to operate under different Alert Levels.

TEOs have successfully implemented a number of changes in response to the requirements of different Alert Levels and we are confident that TEOs, including universities, have responded well to the current situation and have strong public health controls in place.

At alert level 2.5, TEOs should use the guidance for Alert Level 2, however additional requirements now apply reflecting the extra precautions needed at Alert Level 2.5. We are amending the guidance to reflect that at Alert Level 2.5 TEOs must clearly indicate capacity limits for large teaching and learning spaces that are consistent with the ability to manage physical distancing and the movement of large crowds and limit each teaching and learning space to a maximum of 100 people. TEOS should also ensure that contact tracing is supported through use of the QR codes and that these are placed at the entrance of all large teaching and learning spaces alongside the capacity limits.

This is designed to manage the risks associated with closed and crowded spaces where people are in close contact.

These changes will apply during the current Alert Level 2.5 period in the Auckland region and would also apply during any future situations where a similar set of limits are required on a localised basis. All guidance for Alert Level 2 remains the same.

Things change quickly so stay up to date by following the links below:

For health advice, please refer to the Ministry of Health’s website.

For cross-agency information about COVID-19, including what support is available, health advice, and travel restrictions visit the All-of-Government website

For additional advice for tertiary providers/whare wānanga visit the Ministry of Education website.   

Update: 1 September 2020: Update for International Education

International Education - Funding for PTEs that are experiencing difficulties due to COVID-19

Applications are now open for the Private Training Establishments (PTEs) Targeted Assistance Fund (TAF).

Applications close at 5pm on 11 September 2020. 

The fund will provide assistance to PTEs that attract international students to their region, and have a unique education offering that contributes to skills development and students pathways. This includes those which may be the only provider of that type in the region and/or are a significant employer in the region. This also includes PTEs that support the broader international education sector and the wider economy.

To apply for this funding, PTEs must meet all of the following eligibility criteria:

  • be a private training establishment as defined in section 10(1) of the Education and Training Act 2020
  • have a Category 1 or Category 2 External Evaluation and Review (EER) rating from the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) as at 1 July 2020
  • have a 40% decline in revenue between 1 March and 31 December 2020 (actual and projected, with the latter auditable) compared with the same period in 2019. The decline in actual revenue must be related to COVID-19
  • have had 50% or more international students enrolled as equivalent full time students (EFTS) in 2019

The PTE TAF, managed by the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC), is part of a long-term recovery plan for the international education sector.

For more details visit the PTE Targeted Assistance Fund page.

Options to help address disruptions to practicums and work placements

We understand that some providers in Auckland are concerned about students not being able to complete their programme of study this year, as a result of the ongoing impact of COVID-19. The disruption may affect a provider’s ability to deliver programmes due to class size restrictions and students not being able to undertake practicums and work placements.

There are a number of temporary programme modification options available to providers to help address disruptions to practicums and work placements within their programmes. When considering these options, providers need to be confident that learners can still achieve the appropriate learning outcomes.

Potential options include:

  • reducing the practical experience hours required and replacing with theory learning.
  • temporarily relaxing requirements for work placements, e.g. allowing students to undertake work placements in their own workplace.
  • allowing students to continue their work placements from home, via video conferencing.
  • rescheduling practical elements of their programmes (pushing back work placements and bringing forward theory learning).

Providers in Auckland requiring temporary programme change approvals to enable students to complete their programme of study are advised to contact NZQA on covid19.enquiries@nzqa.govt.nz.

Note that some regulatory bodies have made temporary changes to their registration criteria or practical requirements already. We encourage providers to continue to work with the relevant regulatory body to establish if further changes are required to the registration criteria or practical requirements of programmes to offset this disruption.

Things change quickly so stay up to date by following the links below:

For health advice, please refer to the Ministry of Health’s website.

For cross-agency information about COVID-19, including what support is available, health advice, and travel restrictions visit the All-of-Government website

For additional advice for tertiary providers/whare wānanga visit the Ministry of Education website.     

Update: 26 August 2020: Update for Tertiary Providers and International

Use of face coverings or masks at tertiary education facilities

From midnight Sunday 30 August, it will become mandatory under Alert Level 2 or higher to wear a face covering or a mask when using public transport, which includes buses, trains, ferries, planes, taxis and Ubers. Further details about face coverings on public transport will be announced tomorrow and we will share those details with you.

While wearing face covering or masks in other situations (e.g. when on a tertiary campus) is not mandatory, the Ministry recommends that students bring face coverings or masks with them when attending on-site activities, and make use of these where appropriate, particularly where physical distancing may be difficult; for example in a confined space with other students or staff, such as in workshops, lifts, transportation organised by the tertiary provider, etc.

It can be helpful to wear face coverings or masks even in situations where contact tracing is in place and where all those involved are known to each other. Wearing a face mask can reduce the risk of people who have COVID-19, spreading the virus to others. They may feel well or have no obvious symptoms. A face mask can help stop infectious droplets spreading when they speak, laugh, cough or sneeze.

Tertiary education providers may wish to issue students and staff with guidance setting out their expectations for how face coverings and masks should be used when attending on-site activities. This guidance should also reiterate that face coverings or masks are legally mandated when using public transport at Level 2 (from midnight Sunday 30 August).

It is important to highlight that used face coverings or masks are potentially something that could infect others if the wearer was to have COVID-19, so these should be treated carefully. If it’s a disposable mask, put it in a rubbish bin with a lid, or in a plastic bag and then into a rubbish bin. People should not leave used masks lying around.

Further information on masks and face coverings can be found on the All-of-Government website.

Auckland’s transition to Level 2 – clarification on what constitutes a ‘gathering’

Auckland will transition into Alert Level 2 from midnight Sunday 30 August, though mass gatherings will be restricted to 10. For the rest of New Zealand gatherings are limited to 100, under the Level 2 restrictions that continue to apply.

However, education-related activities (such as classes, workshops, research, etc.) are not considered ‘gatherings’ and are not subject to this restriction (provided appropriate public health control measures are in place). These same education-related activities will therefore not be restricted to 10 when Auckland moves to transitional Level 2 from midnight Sunday.

For clarity, when Auckland transitions into Alert Level 2, if strict public health control measures are in place, all on-site activities at tertiary education facilities can resume i.e. classes, lectures, labs, workshops, tutorials, noho, meetings, and research. The public health control measures for TEOs to put in place under Level 2 can be found on Ministry of Education website.

Other gatherings that are not directly education-related, such as speaking events open to the public, cultural events, social events, etc. must follow the normal restrictions that apply to mass gatherings (i.e. maximum of 10 at Level 2 in Auckland, and maximum of 100 at Level 2 for the rest of New Zealand).

Graduation ceremonies, while an important part of a student’s journey through the tertiary system, are not considered directly education-related and must therefore comply with the normal restrictions for mass gatherings, as above.

Travel in and out of Auckland remains restricted until midnight Sunday 30 August

Travel in and out of Auckland will remain restricted until 11.59pm on 30 August 2020, at which point Auckland will move to Alert Level 2 (with gatherings restricted to 10).

This reopening of inter-regional travel creates a degree of risk of potentially spreading the COVID-19 to other parts of the country. Those people who are in Auckland, including tertiary students and staff, should exercise common sense and caution when considering inter-regional travel. People should not travel if they are feeling unwell or have COVID-19 symptoms.

Until Auckland goes to Alert Level 2, only some people are permitted to travel across the regional boundary - see the list of permitted cross-border travel on All-of-Government website.

Update: 24 August 2020: Update for Tertiary Providers and International

Alert level status

The government has announced that the Auckland Region will remain at Alert Level 3 and the remainder of New Zealand will remain at Alert Level 2, until 11.59pm on Sunday 30th August. From midnight Sunday:

  • Auckland will transition into Alert L2, though mass gatherings will generally be restricted to 10. 
  • The rest of New Zealand will remain at Alert Level 2.
  • Face coverings will become mandatory on public transport at Alert Level 2 and above

You will be familiar with the alert level guidance for tertiary education organisations (TEO’s), however for quick reference on how to operate under different Alert Levels, refer to the Department of Education website.

The number one priority remains the welfare of staff and students and ensuring that they remain safe and well during this time. The Ministry of Health website contains a useful range of mental health and wellbeing resources your staff might need for themselves or to assist students, they can be found on the Health website.

Private Training Establishment (PTE) Targeted Assistance Fund

The long- term recovery plan for international education includes a $10 million fund for Private Training Establishments (PTEs), including English language schools, to buffer the sharp decline in revenue and maintain a foundation of PTEs for the recovery phase.

The Tertiary Education Commission, with support from the Ministry of Education, are managing this fund and are likely to open applications for the PTE Targeted Assistance Fund on 31st August, 2020. Applications will open for a two week period. Funding decisions will be finalised, and payments will be made in early October, 2020. We will provide you with updates if there are any delays.

New Health Order now in effect

A new Health Order was signed late last week which came into effect from midnight Saturday 22 August.

 The new order does not significantly change any of the settings for how TEO’s should be operating under each Alert Level. However, there is a new requirement in this Order that a range of businesses (including venue businesses), must not only put up NZ COVID Tracer App QR codes at main entrances to buildings, but must also ensure (to the greatest extent practicable) that each person who enters the building scans these QR codes.  TEO’s should also do what they can to ensure staff and students scan QR codes as they enter different areas around campus.

We acknowledge that TEO’s already have a range of processes in place for ensuring accurate contact tracing information is being recorded – these processes should also now include NZ Tracer App QR codes. While it may be challenging to ensure people comply with these contact tracing measures (particularly at Level 2, where there are likely to be many more students and staff on-site), having detailed and accurate contact tracing information will allow us to quickly get on top of any future COVID-19 cases that may appear in the community.

We would also like to remind providers that non-education related businesses operating on a tertiary campus (such as pharmacies, bookstores, cafes, etc.) should comply with the Level 3 and 2 restrictions that apply to their type of business, rather than restrictions that apply specifically to TEOs.

Student’s readiness for tertiary study

The Ministry of Education and NZQA are focused on ensuring the re-emergence of COVID-19 in the community does not prevent secondary schools from completing internal assessments and preparing students for external assessments.

We are working to make sure students have a fair opportunity for their learning to be recognised, while protecting the integrity which is essential for NCEA and University Entrance to be valid indicators of readiness for tertiary study.

In response to the disruption students have faced this year, changes have been made to NCEA and University Entrance (UE) to give students a fair opportunity to achieve qualifications and awards despite the disruption to teaching, learning and assessment from COVID-19. The key changes are:

  • UE requirements have been reduced from 14 credits to 12 credits in three UE-approved subjects. Students still need to attain NCEA Level 3 and meet literacy and numeracy requirements to be awarded University Entrance.
  • Students working towards NCEA can gain additional credits, based on the number of credits they achieve during the 2020 school year. For every 5 credits a student attains towards their NCEA either through internal or external assessment, they can be awarded 1 additional credit. Students at NCEA Level 1 are eligible for up to a maximum of 10 additional credits while those at Levels 2 and 3 are eligible for up to a maximum of 8 additional credits.
  • Students will be awarded a certificate endorsement if they achieve 46 credits at Merit or Excellence level, rather than the usual 50. Students achieving 12 credits at Merit or Excellence level in a course – rather than 14 – will be awarded a course endorsement.

For more information, see the NZQA website.

NZQA’s immediate focus is on providing support to schools and kura around collecting evidence so that they can award valid, fair grades to students if anything disrupts their participation in external assessments. This is a standard procedure which schools apply every year in case an individual or group of students aren’t able to participate fully in exams.

Things change quickly so stay up to date by following the links below:

For health advice, please refer to the Ministry of Health’s website.

For cross-agency information about COVID-19, including what support is available, health advice, and travel restrictions visit the All-of-Government website

For additional advice for tertiary providers/whare wānanga visit the Ministry of Education website.       

 

Update: 19 August 2020: Update for Tertiary Providers and International

Technology Access Fund for Learners

Applications for the Technology Access Fund for Learners (TAFL) have been re-opened following recent changes in COVID-19 alert levels. TAFL, managed by Tertiary Education Commission (TEC), aims to help tertiary education organisations (TEOs) support learners to continue to access tertiary education and training disrupted by COVID-19. For more information about the TAFL and how to apply, please visit the TEC website.

Applications for ESOL Provision by English language schools now open

The government announced in July the $1.5 million fund for English language schools to help increase demand for English language training. The funding will also help with upskilling and improving the employability of migrants and dependents of New Zealand citizens and residents.

The PTE ESOL Provision Fund, managed by the Tertiary Education Commission, is part of a long-term recovery plan for the international education sector. To apply, visit PTE ESOL Provision Fund.

The government also announced $10 million for Private Training Establishments (PTEs) to maintain a foundation of PTEs for the recovery phase. Applications for PTE targeted assistance funding should be open in the coming weeks. We will contact you with more details closer to the time.

Students in tertiary accommodation

Ensuring the welfare of students who are in tertiary accommodation such as hostels, halls of residence, self-contained flats, etc. is critical at all times regardless of the Alert Level.

Tertiary accommodation under Alert Level 3

Those tertiary accommodation facilities operating under Alert Level 3 (i.e. those that are within the Auckland region) should:

  • remain open and in a position to provide appropriate support to allow students to self-isolate,
  • ensure physical distancing and exclusive ‘bubbles’ are maintained at all times, in line with broader government guidelines,
  • ensure strict contact tracing measures are in place, including the placement of NZ COVID Tracer QR code posters at or near main entrances.

Student service, such as counselling and health services should continue to operate, with consultations delivered online or over the phone where possible. Where virtual, non-contact consultations are not possible (e.g. during a critical incident), face-to-face consultations are allowed.

Currently, travel into, out of, or through Auckland is restricted to limited circumstances. Students who are currently in tertiary accommodation in the Auckland Region, are unlikely to able to leave Auckland, including during the university holidays. There are some limited circumstances that do allow people to leave the Auckland region, however it is likely this will only apply to students who are temporarily in Auckland and need to travel back to their primary home or residence outside of Auckland. More information is available on the COVID19.govt.nz website.

Students should be reminded that they are able to leave their tertiary accommodation under the same restrictions that apply to those living at home/in rentals (i.e. only for ‘essential personal movement’ within the region).

Tertiary accommodation under Alert Level 2

Those tertiary accommodation facilities operating under Alert Level 2 (i.e. those outside of the Auckland region) should:

  • ensure strict contact tracing measures are in place, including the placement of NZ COVID Tracer QR code posters at or near main entrances,
  • ensure there are no social events with external visitors.

There are currently no restrictions on personal movement of students living in tertiary accommodation outside of the Auckland region, though border restrictions around the Auckland remain tight.

What happens if there is a confirmed case linked to a tertiary provider?

If there is a confirmed or probable case linked with a tertiary education or accommodation facility, the provider will be advised of this by the Medical Officer of Health or their local public health authority.

If a tertiary provider becomes aware of a case associated with their education or accommodation facility and they haven’t yet received notification from health authorities, they should immediately contact Gillian Dudgeon or Sandra Ramsay at the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) and their local public health unit (Public health unit contacts)

Upon advice from the local medical officer of health, any educational facilities connected to a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19 should close on an individual or group basis, for as long as directed by that medical officer of health.

Clarification on terms, including the difference between a close contact and casual contact?

  1. Confirmed case: Someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 after returning a positive lab test.
  2. Probable case: Regardless of any test result, someone is considered by the public health service to have COVID-19 if their symptoms and clinical history indicate their illness is more likely to be COVID-19 than anything else.
  3. Close contact: Close contacts are those that are likely to be at a higher risk of being infected. In other words someone who has been physically near to a person with COVID-19 for enough time to put them at increased risk of catching the illness. Close contacts will be required to self-isolate and will need to monitor for symptoms.
  4. Casual contact: The technical definition is “any person with exposure to the case who does not meet the criteria for a close contact”. For example someone who attended the same venue as a person confirmed with COVID, but isn’t considered a close contact. Casual contacts do not need to self-isolate but as we all are asked to do, will need to monitor for symptoms and get tested if recommended to do so.
  5. Household contacts: Anyone living in the same household as a case e.g. immediate and extended family members (including children in shared care arrangements), boarders, flatmates, visitors.

The Ministry of Health has further information on their website about contact tracing.

Information for international students offshore – accommodation and other commitments

International students who are currently offshore may be asking how best to manage accommodation commitments and selling/storing vehicles and other possessions.

Students should talk to their landlord or accommodation provider about their options. More information is available at the tenancy services website (including COVID-specific information). If they have a fixed term rental contract, they may be able to apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to end the lease early if necessary.

If a student is living in student accommodation, they should also check what provisions their accommodation contract includes for leaving before the end of the contract.

If students want to move out of their accommodation, they will likely need to arrange packing up their belongings and selling items / moving them to storage. They may be able to find a friend to help with this, or they could contact a professional moving company. Students should contact their landlord or accommodation provider about arranging access to the property.

The Auckland Region remains at Alert Level 3 and the remainder of New Zealand remains at Alert Level 2. Under Alert Level 3, it is still possible to move accommodation, under certain conditions (e.g. from one property to another, within the same Alert Level zone). Only moving companies can assist with moving.  

Under Alert Level 3, it is still possible to sell goods, so long as the transaction is contactless (i.e. there is no physical contact between the buyer and seller, and everyone maintains a two metre distance). Sites such as Trade Me have detailed advice about how to make sales safely.

Under Alert Levels 1 and 2, it is possible to sell goods / move accommodation (with appropriate safety measures where necessary).

For information and advice on dealing with vehicles.  Transfer of vehicle ownership can be done online. It may also be possible to ask a friend who is in New Zealand to help sell a vehicle. Students could also consider contacting a used car dealer for advice.

If students wish to ship possessions home, they should be encouraged to consider looking for different quotes, as services may vary considerably (e.g. door-to-door, port-to-port, payment on volume or weight). Some education providers may have existing relationships where students receive discounted rates – please check with your education provider’s international office or student organisation for more information. Alternatively, there are various storage options available for students’ possessions, and many companies will be able to provide online quotes and some also arrange packing / moving. Moving companies can still operate at Alert Level 3 (so long as they do so safely). Clothing and household items may be able to be donated to local charities (who may also be able to collect) where appropriate.

Support for international students in hardship

International students facing financial hardship may be eligible to apply for assistance through the Visitor Care Manaaki Manuhiri programme. This programme delivers in-kind assistance to help international visitors in New Zealand meet basic needs, such as food and accommodation. The Red Cross has developed a series of resources, including translations and frequently asked questions, specifically for international students - please promote this fund to your international students. More information and the marketing assets available in nine languages are available on the website and in this stakeholder dropbox. Here are the resources in English to share:

International student fees, withdrawals and refunds

International students with questions about fees, withdrawals and refunds should check their enrolment documentation and contact their education provider in the first instance. Information specific to private training establishment students is available at the NZQA website.

If students are not satisfied with the outcome, they should contact NZQA and iStudent Complaints.

For additional advice for tertiary providers/whare wananga, visit the Ministry of Education website

 

Update: 15 August 2020: Update for Tertiary Providers and International

The government has announced that the Auckland Region will remain at Alert Level 3 and the remainder of New Zealand will remain at Alert Level 2 for a further 11 days from today. Cabinet will check in on progress on Friday 21 August, with a formal review by Cabinet on Monday 24th August, with a view to implement any change from midnight, Wednesday 26th August, 2020.

We have updated the guidelines for tertiary education organisations (TEO’s) to reflect the latest public health measures. The changes to the guidance are highlighted in yellow and can be found here guidelines for tertiary education organisations: how to operate under different alert levels.

In addition to the above guidelines, additional points to note are:

Wellbeing

The number one priority remains the welfare of staff and students, and ensuring that they remain safe and well during this time. It is important that providers continue to support the wellbeing of students throughout this period and maintain regular contact. Particular attention should be paid to the safety and support of students in hostels and managed accommodation, so that students remain well informed and properly cared for.

The Ministry of Health website contains a useful range of mental health and wellbeing resources your staff might need for themselves or to assist students, they can be found on the Department of Health website.

There are also free apps and online self-help tools to help staff and students manage their mental wellbeing, such as ALL RIGHT?

Travel restrictions

  • Travel in and out of Auckland is restricted to essential travel only. If you are an Aucklander you can travel to Auckland to return home.
  • If students are leaving New Zealand or catching other transport to go home, public transport is allowed at Alert level 3. Domestic air travel to Auckland is allowed if students are transiting Auckland Airport to leave the country, or to go to another domestic destination. If transiting through Auckland Airport they should not leave the airport precinct. For more information on travel by alert level, visit https://www.transport.govt.nz/about/covid-19/transport-and-travel-by-alert-level/.

Public health measures and testing

TEO’s should continue to implement the Ministry of Health’s recommendations on social distancing and hygiene as far as possible, for both staff and students, as per the alert level guidance.

If you have a particular concern about a student or staff member, ask the student or staff member to contact their GP or call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (or +64 9 358 5453 for international SIMS). Healthline has translators and interpreters available 24/7 in 150 languages.

Please note that publicly funded COVID-19 related care – including diagnosis, testing and treatment – is provided to anyone who requires it, who has symptoms. This is irrespective of citizenship, visa status, nationality or level of medical insurance coverage. The only time a person should be charged is when they ask for a test in order to enter another country.

For more information on free Covid-19 testing. 

For more information on testing centres. 

Face Coverings

We would encourage students or staff members who wish to wear face coverings wrapped around the nose and mouth (including masks) are able to do so if they want to. They are entitled to make this decision and should not be criticised for doing so.

At Alert Level 3: Tertiary students need to follow the same guidance or rules as other adults. Physical distancing and contact tracing requirements must be met in all situations. Wearing a face covering is advised if out and about, for example on public transport or visiting the supermarket.

At Alert Level 2: While it is not mandatory to wear a face covering, wearing them is advised where it is not possible to practice social distancing or to carry out contact tracing. This includes, for example, in crowded spaces on TEO campuses, or teaching and learning situations where close physical contact cannot be avoided.

Contract tracing       

In addition to your normal contact tracing systems, TEO’s are required to display the official NZ COVID Tracer QR code posters in a prominent place at or near the main entrances. To get posters like the QR code poster, visit https://covid19.govt.nz/updates-and-resources/posters/.

Online delivery

NZQA has granted an automatic extension to 31 December 2020 for programmes and training schemes delivered online in New Zealand by non-university providers, unless one or more of the following applies:

  • the programme or training scheme includes practical components or placements;
  • the provider intends to deliver solely online and not resume face-to-face delivery.

For further information on online delivery

Ongoing quality assurance

Information about quality assurance activities is regularly updated on the NZQA website to reflect the latest COVID-19 alert level. If you have any queries or concerns, please contact NZQA on covid19.enquiries@nzqa.govt.nz

Other messages for staff and students

Home Learning TV | Papa Kāinga TV and Mauri Reo, Mauri Ora are back!

Home Learning TV | Papa Kāinga TV and Mauri Reo, Mauri Ora are back to support the learning of tamariki and rangatahi while Auckland is in Alert Level 3 and the rest of Aotearoa is in Alert Level 2.

Home Learning TV | Papa Kāinga TV

This time around Home Learning TV | Papa Kāinga TV will take over TVNZ DUKE's daytime schedule between 9am and 1pm on week days, with programmes and lessons for children aged 2 to 11 years.

DUKE is available on Freeview channel 13, Sky and Vodafone TV channel 23. It can be live streamed on the TVNZ website, www.tvnz.co.nz. Content will be available for catch up viewing on TVNZ OnDemand. You can check the schedule and access lesson plans on our HLTV webpage.  

Mauri Reo, Mauri Ora

Mauri Reo Mauri Ora is back to support learning for children aged 0 to 18 years while Auckland remains in Alert Level 3 and the rest of the country is in Alert Level 2.

Mauri Reo Mauri Ora will be airing once again on Te Reo Māori Channel via SkyTV, Vodafone channel 82 and Freeview Channel 15 from 9am to 3pm on week days.

Korou Whangataua, Juneea Silbery and Ani-Piki Tuari will again host these interactive sessions focused on kōhungahunga in the morning through to wharekura in the afternoon.

Check out www.kauwhatareo.govt.nz/mauri-reo-mauri-ora for more information, schedules and previous sessions.

Content will be available for catch up viewing on www.maoritelevision.com where you can also catch all the earlier episodes of Mauri Reo Mauri Ora.

Update: 14 August 2020: Tertiary Provider and International Bulletin

This evening the government announced that the Auckland Region will remain at Alert Level 3 and the remainder of New Zealand will remain at Alert Level 2 for another twelve days.


Cabinet will check in on progress on Friday 21 August, with Cabinet formally considering the Alert Levels on Monday 24th August, with a view to implement any change from midnight, Wednesday 26th August, 2020.

We recognise it is an unsettling time for everyone as Covid-19 alert levels remain and want to acknowledge your ongoing work, and care for your students, staff and communities.

The number one priority remains the welfare of staff and students, and ensuring that they remain safe and well during this time. The Ministry of Health website contains a useful range of mental health and wellbeing resources your staff might need for themselves or to assist students, they can be found on the Department of Health website.

There are also free apps and online self-help tools to help staff and students manage their mental wellbeing, such as ALL RIGHT?

We will be sending out a more detailed bulletin on Saturday 15th August with updated guidelines for tertiary education organisations to help you navigate this this regionalised, alert level situation.

Update: 13 August 2020: Update for Tertiary Providers and International

Last night the government announced that from midday, Wednesday 12 August 2020 the Auckland Region will be at Alert Level 3 and the remainder of New Zealand will be at Alert Level 2, until midnight on Friday 14 August. This is to ensure that we prevent the virus from spreading in our community.

You will be familiar with the alert level guidance for tertiary education organisations, however for quick reference on how to operate under different Alert Levels, refer to the Guidelines for TEOs.

The number one priority remains the welfare of staff and students, and ensuring that they remain safe and well during this time. The Ministry of Health website contains a useful range of mental health and wellbeing resources your staff might need for themselves or to assist students, they can be found on the Department of Health website.

The guiding principles at Alert Level 2 for tertiary education organisations for all of New Zealand, excluding the Auckland region, can be found in these guidelines, with the following additions:

  • Travel in and out of Auckland is restricted to essential travel only. If you are an Aucklander you can travel to Auckland to return home.
  • While it is not mandatory to wear a face mask or face covering, wearing them is advised where it is not possible to practice social distancing or to carry out contact tracing. This includes, for example, in crowded spaces on TEO campuses, or teaching and learning situations where close physical contact cannot be avoided.

The guiding principles at Alert Level 3 for tertiary education organisations in the Auckland region are:

  • All teaching and other activities should be done remotely wherever possible.
  • Where it is not possible to deliver teaching online, some facilities may remain open (e.g. for research, post-graduate teaching, lab/workshops, or noho-based delivery).
  • Any class, workshops, etc., that open, must be limited to 10 people or less. Each group is considered a ‘bubble’ and should not interact with any other student/staff bubbles of 10.
  • Distance learning provision will be available for other students.
  • Social distancing and contact tracing requirements must be met in all situations.
  • Wearing face masks (or other face coverings) is advised if out and about, for example on public transport or visiting the supermarket.
  • Student accommodation should remain open and in a position to provide appropriate support to allow students to self-isolate, as required.
  • Large classes or gatherings (of more than 10 people) are not allowed.
  • Workplace-based learning is subject to the policies and practices being applied to that type of workplace.
  • Vulnerable people (or those caring for/living with vulnerable people) should not carry out any on-site work or learning.
  • Any educational facilities affected by COVID-19 will be closed for a specific period of time.

What this means for your staff

  • Stay home. All teaching, meetings, and other usual on-site activities should continue be done remotely, wherever possible.
  • If teaching online is not possible, you can run limited classes for 10 people or less to resolve that issue. Strict physical distancing and ‘bubbles’ should be maintained at all times.
  • Preparation. Staff can go on site to prepare for practical workshops/classes, following the physical distancing guidelines.  
  • Physical distancing guidelines. 2m outside home, or 1m in controlled environments, for example onsite at TEO’s.
  • Travel. Essential only i.e. for delivery of teaching/learning, research or for effective management and governance functions that cannot be done remotely, and then only within your local region.

What this means for your students

  • Stay home. Where students can access their courses online, they will continue to do so. For those students where delivery online is not possible some facilities may open (e.g. for research, post-graduate teaching, lab/workshops, or noho-based delivery).
  • Students in hostels, halls of residence or self-contained flats will remain open and Ministry of Health guidelines on hygiene and social distancing will remain.
  • Students are encouraged to wear masks or face coverings when out and about.
  • Student services, such as counselling and health services should continue to operate, with consultations delivered online or over the phone, where possible. Other supports available are;
    • GP or local community health centre
    • Youthline 0800 376 633 youthline website
    • Need To Talk by calling or texting 1737
    • In an emergency always call 111
  • Student financial support can be provided through the student hardship fund, to support learners facing financial hardship. In addition:
    • Student support package remains available. Claims can be made via their MyStudyLink account. They should receive the payment into their nominated bank account within 24 - 72 hours of the claim being received.
    • Answers to questions about Student Allowance and Living Cost payments can be found on StudyLink’s website.
  • Students can attend a class or lab or workshop with a group of other students (of up to 10 students and staff), but not then move on to multiple other classes with different groups.
  • Any class, workshop, laboratory etc., that opens, must be limited to 10 people or less. Each such group is considered a ‘bubble’ and should not interact with any other student/staff bubbles of 10.

Update: 7 August 2020: Update for Tertiary Providers and International

Education and Training Act

The Education and Training Act aims to give all learners a more high-quality, culturally responsive, seamless and inclusive education, from early learning, through schooling, and on into tertiary education, vocational training and employment. The Education and Training Act is now law, and includes a number of changes to reduce the impact of COVID-19 for the tertiary and international sector, as follows:

  • Export Education Levy (EEL): The EEL payment obligations for enrolments in the 2020 and 2021 years are now cancelled. Any levies paid in respect of enrolments after 1 January 2020 will be repaid to providers. We will check if any payments have been made and contact the provider. Providers will still be required to provide enrolment data as it provides us with important information about the international education sector and will help us to better understand the full impact of Covid-19 on international students and providers.
  • Extending Interim Code of Practice for Pastoral Care of Domestic Tertiary Students until 1 January 2022: The Government will allow more time to develop the on-going Code of Pastoral Care and accompanying dispute resolution scheme for domestic tertiary students. Plans for wide engagement and consultation on the development of an on-going Code of Pastoral Care and dispute resolution scheme are being drawn up now. Tertiary education organisations, students, sector peak bodies and networks, and others with a stake in this process will be advised how and when they can participate.
  • Provision of education and NCEA to enrolled students outside New Zealand: In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Act temporarily enables the Minister of Education to approve State schools’ provision of education outside New Zealand to their students who were enrolled for the 2020 school year on or before 3 July.  NZQA will also have the temporary power to approve registered schools’ provision of NCEA outside New Zealand to these students. These changes are time-limited and will expire at the end of 31 December 2022.
    Guidance for schools about the criteria and application process will be communicated through the School Bulletin and on the Ministry website in the coming weeks. For more information, please visit the Education website

Re-building International Education

The Government has released a long-term strategic recovery plan, backed by a $51.6 million investment from the COVID recovery and response fund to help reset New Zealand’s international education sector.

Private training establishments (PTEs), including English language schools, who enrol international students and are signatories to the Code of Pastoral Care, will be able to apply to the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) for funding through the $10 million immediate assistance package.

Over the past week, the Ministry of Education has gathered feedback on the draft criteria for the PTE fund from peak bodies and the wider sector through a short-targeted engagement approach and is now working through this feedback.

English language schools will also be able to access new learners through the additional $1.5 million PTE ESOL Provision Fund.  This funding extends the types of learners who can be funded for English Language course. This will give English language schools New Zealand based learners to increase the demand for their services.  English language schools that currently do not receive ACE funding will be priority providers for these new learners.

Details, including the eligibility and assessment criteria and how to apply for funding will be released mid-August on the TEC website.

Apprenticeship Boost now available

Employers can now apply for the Apprenticeship Boost to help them keep existing apprentices. It is available now and runs for 20 months.

Under the Apprenticeship Boost, an employer of an apprentice in their first year will be eligible for $1,000 support per month, and an employer of an apprentice in their second year is eligible for $500 per month for a maximum period of 20 months.

To be eligible to apply for this subsidy, their apprentices must be part of a TEC-approved New Zealand Apprenticeship or Managed Apprenticeship programme and have done less than 24 months of their training. The payments will be made to the employer of eligible apprentices, who must continue to pay at least the minimum or relevant training wage to their apprentice.

For more information go to the Work and Income website Apprenticeship Support Programme – Work and Income.

Expiring visas and visa applications

Expiring visas for students still in New Zealand

If you have international students whose visa is due to expire in the next few months and they are unable to leave New Zealand on the date originally planned, then please make sure they have applied for a new visa.

If they do not apply for a new visa before their current visa expires, they will become unlawful and this will affect any future travel plans. For more information, visit the Immigration website.

Suspension of visa applications for students outside New Zealand

Due to COVID-19, international students will not be able to enter New Zealand for the remainder of the year.  The Government is working with providers to explore options that would enable small cohorts of students to enter New Zealand next year and to build up numbers, when it is safe to do so, however no decisions have been made on this yet.

Currently a large number of students have applied for visas to enter New Zealand. These applications cannot be processed while the border is closed. The Government has decided that the fair thing to do is to suspend receiving visa applications for a period of three months, from students who are outside of New Zealand, so that they do not incur the costs associated with visa applications when we know the applications are not being processed.

Students with a visa application in the system can apply to withdraw their application and request an application fee refund. Refunds are considered on a case by case basis by Immigration New Zealand.  Students are also able to leave their application in the system at this stage if they want to wait and see what 2021 brings in terms of the border.

Students are encouraged to consider other ways to begin their study in New Zealand while they remain offshore. Many study providers are offering online courses to offshore students. We suggest students contact their preferred providers for more information.

For more information, visit the Immigration website.

Support for International Students

The Red Cross are providing support to foreign nationals through the Visitor Care Manaaki Manuhiri programme which runs till the end of September. You are invited to join and share this Online Q&A session on support for international students via your networks scheduled for Thursday 13th of August on Zoom, 4.30-5pm. This is an opportunity for international students and education providers to ask questions about the support available and how to access it. Please share it with students.

Zoom meeting:

Meeting ID: 751 9997 8360
Passcode: 8Z5DZx

Update: 13 July 2020: Update for Tertiary Providers and International 

More support for mental health and wellbeing services for domestic tertiary students

The lockdown has been hugely disruptive for students. Many of them had to relocate and move to online learning, isolating them from their peers. Students who feel safe and confident in themselves and in their learning environments are also those who best engage and achieve in education, in work, and in life.

To support tertiary students to remain engaged in their learning and to help them manage the ongoing stresses related to COVID-19, the Government has announced an additional $25 million to expand and accelerate frontline mental health and wellbeing services for all domestic students studying at tertiary education institutions (TEI’s).

The funding builds on the existing roll out of free primary mental health and wellbeing services for 18-25 year olds, such as the Piki programme in Wellington and support programmes at Auckland and Canterbury Universities. For more information about the Piki programme, visit the Beehive website.

The Ministry of Education will work closely with the Ministry of Health to accelerate the Ministry of Health's roll-out of youth-specific wellbeing and addiction initiatives that will be available to all domestic tertiary students through their TEI.

This will be implemented via a Request for Proposals (RFP) process led by the Ministry of Health. The Ministry of Health will be in touch with individual tertiary institutions in the coming months and will be involved in the RFP process. Tertiary institutions and health providers (District Health Boards, Primary Health Organisations, and non-governmental organisations) will partner to deliver the health services through a TEI.

The RFP process will get underway in November. The expansion of these services will start next year and continue over the following four years. We expect that students will begin to notice an expansion in services and increased choices from 2021, though exactly when students will be able to access these services will depend on when they are established in their tertiary education provider.

For more information and frequently asked questions, visit the Ministry of Education website.

Update: 3 July 2020: Update for Tertiary Providers and International

Targeted Training Apprenticeship Fund now available

The Targeted Training and Apprenticeship Fund (TTAF) is now available.  The fund will make training fees-free from 1 July 2020 until 31 December 2022 for all apprenticeships and for vocational programmes within targeted areas at level 3-7 (excluding degrees) at tertiary providers or workplace training. The targeted areas are primary industries, construction, community support, manufacturing and mechanical engineering and technology, electrical engineering and road transport related to operating heavy vehicles.

The list of qualifications covered by the fund are available on the Tertiary Education Commission’s website. For more information on the fund, visit Targeted Training and Apprenticeship Fund.

In addition, the Government recently announced an Apprenticeship Support Programme to help retain and take on new apprentices. This includes Apprenticeship Boost to help employers pay for new and existing apprentices in their first two years of training. This will be available from August 2020. More information about the Apprenticeship Support Programmes is available from the Work and Income website.

Border exemption requests

The New Zealand border is currently closed to almost all travellers except New Zealand citizens and residents. For those who are not a New Zealand citizen or resident, there is a process for requesting an exception to the border restrictions if there is a critical purpose for travelling to New Zealand.

The process for requesting an exception for “other critical workers” (formerly essential workers) is being managed by Immigration New Zealand, which is part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). Employers will need to request an exception from Immigration NZ on their employee’s behalf – requests from individual workers will not be considered. The Ministry of Education (MoE) is not a decision maker in this exemptions process, but will provide guidance on applications if Immigration NZ requests this.

The bar for being granted an exception to the border restrictions is set high to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of people already in New Zealand.  We are advised by Immigration NZ that holding an existing essential skills visa or being employed in a position that is on the skills shortage list is not sufficient to meet the ‘critical worker’ criteria for this process. 

If you have existing staff who are not New Zealand residents or citizens and who are currently overseas, or if you are looking to recruit new staff from overseas, you should consider the latest Immigration NZ guidance. All applications for “other critical workers” must be made directly to MBIE via employerborderexceptions@mbie.govt.nz.

The Ministry of Education are working with other key government agencies, to ensure the interests and perspectives of the education sector are considered in any cross government work on lifting border restrictions.

We hope that a suitable model can be developed so we can start to bring in small numbers and begin building up towards 2021.

Reinstatement of Fees free entitlement of learners affected by COVID-19

Many learners have been adversely affected by COVID-19 either by not being able to participate fully in their studies or training, or due to illness or financial hardship.  This has resulted in some learners withdrawing from their study or training or not completing courses.

Tertiary Education Organisations (TEOs) should confirm to eligible learners who used their entitlement for study or training in 2020 that there is a process to reinstate Fees Free entitlements in certain circumstances.

Some or all of learners’ Fees Free entitlement may be reinstated if they are an eligible learner and:

  • they withdrew from study or training due to the impact of COVID-19; or
  • their study or training was adversely affected due to the impact of COVID-19

The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) will reinstate the entitlements of learners who withdrew from 23 March to 30 June 2020, without learners needing to appeal. Learners’ entitlements will be reinstated in the next few months.

For withdrawals outside of the period from 23 March to 30 June 2020, or where learners didn’t withdraw, but their studies were adversely affected, learners can appeal their entitlement use. The Fees Free website is currently being updated and the changes will be live in August 2020. From then on, learners will be able to appeal by entering their national student number (NSN) on the homepage and completing the entitlement appeals form, on the results page.

If a learner needs to appeal before August 2020 (e.g. they have used their Fees Free entitlement and wish to enrol in a new course), please contact TEC on 0800 601 301 or email customerservice@tec.govt.nz.

To support this process and your learners, TEC ask that TEOs continue to report all Fees Free eligible learners via the ‘Fees Free All Enrolments and Costs return’, including those who have been affected by COVID-19. Furthermore, TEC request that ITOs report all trainees status’ accurately as either active, grace, on hold or withdrawn.

Fees Free statutory declaration interim process ending 5th July

From 6 July, the TEC will return to the standard operating process for Fees Free eligibility verification where learners need to make a statutory declaration in the presence of an authorised person (for example, a JP) and get their statutory declaration form signed by the authorised person. The interim process that TEC introduced during the lockdown will cease.

This was a temporary arrangement where TEC completed the verification process through phone calls so that learners could still be enrolled and complete the Fees Free eligibility process during lockdown.

Statutory declarations sent to TEC on or before 5th July will be verified through the interim process.

As always, if you have any questions please contact TEC or talk to your TEC relationship manager.

Update: 26 June 2020: Update for Tertiary Providers and International

Update on International Students

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the international education sector. Since January, education agencies, peak bodies and providers have worked to ensure that the 50,000 students in New Zealand were well-looked after and that providers had good information and guidance to support them in their roles as the impacts of COVID-19 unfolded.

We know that the handling of the COVID-19 virus has further strengthened our reputation as a safe and welcoming country. We want to thank the sector for working with us over the last few months to address key issues together.

Getting students back into New Zealand is a critical step for re-starting the international education sector. However public health considerations remain paramount to any decision to make changes to current border restrictions.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is continuing to lead cross-government work on quarantine and managed isolation and the Ministry of Education is an active participant in these discussions. This includes giving voice to the perspectives of the international education sector in all discussions on border operations and managing demand for entry across sectors.  

This is a complex issue with many details to be worked though including, how they will travel safely from the moment they arrive in New Zealand, how those in quarantine and isolation will be monitored to ensure they follow the rules, and how the costs for quarantine and isolation can be shared by the people arriving.

As advised by Minister Hipkins in a letter to Peak Bodies, international students will not be returning to New Zealand in July or August this year. We hope that a suitable model can be developed so we can start to bring in small cohorts of students and begin building up towards 2021.

A formal peak body advisory group has been established to enable the sector to provide input and information that will further strengthen the case for international students to be given priority for early entry into New Zealand before the border is fully re-opened.

Next month, we will share a strategic recovery plan for international education in New Zealand. This plan runs over four years and has concurrent workstreams stabilising the sector, strengthening the system, and then transforming to a more robust, sustainable future state that is good for providers and learners, and benefits New Zealand.

We look forward to continuing to work closely together with you to ensure that the International Education sector emerges stronger and more resilient from this challenging time.

Update: 18 June 2020: Update for Tertiary Providers and International

New fund to keep apprentices in work

The government today announced funding of up to $519.8 million to support apprentices and their employers to help protect the jobs of existing and new apprentices throughout the recovery from Covid-19.

The Apprenticeship Support Programme includes:

  • Apprenticeship Boost initiative – a broad-based wage subsidy for employers to help them keep existing apprentices and employ new ones.
  • Mana in Mahi – expanding the existing programme that supports at-risk people through an industry training pathway (including apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship training) and into long term sustainable work.
  • Group Training Schemes – funding to ensure the existing seven schemes remain viable by enabling them to continue to employ apprentices and trainees and provide related services to host businesses.
  • Regional Apprenticeships Initiative – support for displaced regional apprentices who have lost their jobs, initially focusing on Māori and Pacific Peoples.

Employers will be able to access support from one of the above (except the Group Training Schemes fund which is not available for individual employers) depending on the type of apprentice or pre-apprentice trainee they employ.

All employers who have an apprentice will be able to receive a base subsidy rate up to $12,000 per annum for first year apprentices and $6,000 per annum for second year apprentices through the Apprentice Boost Initiative. Mana in Mahi and some Regional Apprenticeships participants will get a higher subsidy to reflect the different level of need of the individual apprentices (or pre-apprentice trainees) involved.

For the Ministers press release, visit beehive.govt.nz. For more information visit Work and Income.

Pastoral care reporting

Fortnightly pastoral care reporting was established during COVID-19 Alert Levels 4 and 3 to collect information about potential issues in student accommodation.  We appreciate tertiary education organisations working with the Tertiary Education Commission and the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) during this time to provide timely information.

Now that we are in Alert Level 1, tertiary education organisations can engage more fully with students.  The fortnightly pastoral care report is no longer required.  However, we urge you to continue to inform the Code Administrator (NZQA) at code.enquiries@nzqa.govt.nz about critical incidents involving students. 

NZQA has also released the Implementation Guidance for the Education (Pastoral Care of Domestic Tertiary Students) Interim Code of Practice 2019 (guidance).  This guidance is intended to help tertiary education organisations (TEOs) put the Interim Code into practice and achieve its outcomes. The Interim Code will remain in place until 1 January 2022 when a permanent Code will be introduced. The guidance is an optional tool to assist providers in understanding the requirements of the Interim Code and is available on the NZQA website

Please note that fortnightly pastoral care reporting may resume should Alert Levels change.

Free webinar - Tertiary teaching online

The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) is hosting a free webinar on Friday 19 June 2020 at 12:00pm featuring New Zealand subject matter experts discussing being an effective, engaging teacher in the online space. Register by 4pm Thursday 18 June at https://teaching-online-pedagogy-practice.lilregie.com/.

This webinar supports the range of resources and tools the TEC have gathered that may help TEOs continue with a dual mode of delivery.

Update: 9 April 2020: Update for Tertiary Education Organisations

This bulletin provides updates on:

Pastoral Care

  • The lack of social community during the lockdown will be very significant for some students, leading them to feelings of loneliness, isolation, anxiety, depression or stress.
  • Providers can help by staying in touch with students on a regular basis, advising where they can seek help and who they can talk to about any barriers to learning.
  • We know that three main factors impact on their wellbeing: social isolation, financial constraints, and their academic programme.
  • Providers should ensure students understand any programme changes (eg moving to online delivery or changes to assessment timelines) and who to talk to about any questions or choices they might need to make.
  • For Student Allowances and Living Cost payments students can be referred to StudyLink’s website.
  • For help with essential services and basic needs.  
  • For help with feelings of isolation or stress: www.mentalhealth.org.nz, www.hpa.org.nz, and a new resource launched this week https://www.allright.org.nz/campaigns/getting-through-together.

Student visa changes to support essential services

Changes have been made to relax visa restrictions for some visa holders to work in essential services to support New Zealand’s response to COVID-19. Students currently employed by supermarkets and the healthcare sector will be able to work for more than 20 hours per week in certain circumstances, explained below.

Where this applies the student needs to discuss their plans with their education provider as they must still meet the study requirements of their student visa.

Supermarkets

If the student was an employee at a supermarket on 23 March 2020, they may work more than 20 hours per week from 25 March to 25 April 2020 (inclusive).

This applies to supermarkets operated by Woolworths (Countdown, Super Value and Fresh Choice)  and Foodstuffs Limited – (New World, Pak n Save and Four Square).

Healthcare sector

If the student was employed in an essential health worker role (including aged residential care) on 3 April 2020, they can work more than 20 hours per week for the period 3 April to 3 July 2020.

For more information visit Immigration New Zealand

International student travel

As the Government is working to safely repatriate foreign nationals, international students can now choose to leave New Zealand on scheduled commercial or foreign-government assisted charter flights. To do so they must have a confirmed international booking and travel to either Auckland or Christchurch airports by private vehicle, public transport or a single domestic flight.

Educational providers must ensure students and their parents are fully informed of the risks associated with international travel right now and have in place:

  • a transfer of care plan for students under 18 that is agreed to in writing (digitally) by the student’s parent or legal guardian.
  • appropriate and safe supervision for students under 18 to ensure their wellbeing is maintained during their transfer of care.

See: FAQs for signatories – students on commercial or repatriation flights

If you need students to be met off domestic flights at Auckland or Christchurch airports, and/or support with accommodation, chaperoning, or transfers, please contact:

Please include in your email: student name and mobile number, education provider key contact name and mobile, and details of the support required (chaperoning/accommodation/transfers – please specify)

Trades Academy funding

  • Funding paid to Trades Academy Lead Providers will continue in 2020 and will not be recovered due to under-delivery in 2020. This applies to funding for both tertiary education organisations (TEOs) and school Lead Providers.
  • For TEOs that are a delivery partner of a Trades Academy, funding for 2020 will depend on the specific agreement or MOU you have with your Lead Provider (TEO or school). As stated above, all Lead Providers will continue to be funded in full based on existing financial commitments for 2020.
  • We recommend you contact your Trades Academy Lead Provider to confirm your ongoing funding arrangements for 2020.
  • The Ministry (with support from TEC) is in regular contact with all Trades Academy Lead Providers. The initial information update provided to all Lead Providers and schools when we moved to alert Level 4 is available on the Youth Guarantee website. Youth Guarantee website
  • We are continuing to work with all Lead Providers to find out how they and their delivery partners are placed to move to online learning, what alternative learning arrangements they can put in place in time for the start of Term Two, and to make preparations in the event of a longer term disruption to practical courses

Private training establishments (PTEs) and student fees

  • All PTEs must have ceased face-to-face delivery.
  • A PTE that uses a standard trust:
    • can continue to draw down tuition fees as usual if it is continuing to deliver its course using online or alternative arrangements
    • must stop drawdowns of tuition fees if it has temporarily paused delivery
    • must stop drawdowns of tuition fees for any students whose enrolment has been put on hold
    • must ensure accommodation payments and living expenses in trust continue.
  • A PTE that uses a static trust:
    • must ensure that enough money is held in trust at all times to cover the maximum liability amount
    • is allowed to request drawdowns from its trustee more often than usual.
  • If a student withdraws, PTEs may need to consider a wider range of factors than usual in determining whether or not they should provide a refund, and/or the amount of the refund. PTEs may wish to explore other options with the student, such as putting their studies on hold or changing to a different course.

Further information and guidance is available on the NZQA website.

Addressing students’ concerns about course changes

NZQA has released new guidance for TEOs about how to respond when a student for whatever reason is not willing or able to engage in their course in its new delivery format.

The new guidance includes:

  • a recommendation to be responsive to students’ concerns, and flexible where appropriate
  • a reminder about contractual obligations and the external avenues available to students to seek remedy.

For PTEs, this should be read alongside the information previously published about student fees.

Agencies recognise that many TEOs are working hard on important decisions about how to adapt in these difficult circumstances. We appreciate your efforts to minimise disruption and meet needs of your students.

English language entry requirements for international students – acceptance of online tests of English language proficiency

Education providers are responsible for ensuring the international students they enrol have the NZQA-required level of English language proficiency for their intended study level. One option is to require the student to have passed the relevant level of one of the internationally recognised proficiency tests listed in the Table appended to Rule 18 of the NZQF Programme Approval and Accreditation Rules 2018.

Due to the  COVID-19 restrictions, many English language proficiency testing centres are closed until official restrictions are lifted. We understand many of the listed test providers have moved to offer online testing.

NZQA position on the acceptance of online English language proficiency tests

NZQA emphasises that the requirements set out in Rule 18 continue to stand. However, in recognition of the limitations caused by the COVID-19 restrictions, NZQA considers that until face-to-face testing resumes, the online form of the tests listed in Table to Rule 18 can be accepted by providers as sufficient proof of English language proficiency for international students in New Zealand who wish to change programmes or providers.

More detailed information can be found on the NZQA website.

Reporting and compliance

  • We are working to balance the need to reduce pressure on education providers with the need to collect key information that can help support the Government’s response to COVID-19.
  • We may need to ask you for further ad-hoc information over the next few months, and appreciate your continued willingness to respond to these requests.

Amendment to funding conditions on certified copy

The TEC recognises that, as a result of the COVID-19 restrictions, most learners are not able to obtain certified copies of documents in the usual way (for example, getting documents witnessed by a Justice of the Peace or a lawyer).

In response, the TEC is temporarily amending funding conditions as necessary to provide an alternative way to verify a learner’s identity.

The amendments, including a list of the funds affected (PDF, 276 Kb), will take effect from 14 April 2020 and will remain in effect until revoked.

In addition, learners can still provide certified copies that have been certified by an authorised person if they already had them completed, or can do so within the Government’s COVID-19 response guidelines. If you have any questions please contact us.

Update: 20 April 2020: Update for tertiary providers

This bulletin provides updates on:

  • Guiding principles on operating at:

a)      all Alert Levels
b)      Alert Level 3
c)      Alert Level 2

Thank you for your continued support and forbearance in uniting against COVID-19.  New Zealand is still at Alert Level 4 and we must continue to follow the guidelines for Level 4 until further notice. However as we prepare for a possible move out of Alert Level 4, we thought it might be helpful to provide some guidance on operating at each Alert Level. Below are a set of guiding principles at various Alert Levels to assist you with your planning.

a)      Principles at all Alert Levels

  • Maintain your ability to deliver courses remotely, and be in a position to transition back to fully remote learning within 24 hours.
  • If the Alert Level is lowered, you may choose how best to transition your delivery, as long as they meet the new Alert Level requirements (e.g. you may choose to continue with online delivery for an extended period, even if this is not required at the new Alert Level).
  • If the Alert Level is raised, you must transition to the new requirements by the time the new Alert Level comes into effect (you should be in a position to transition within 24 hours).
  • To enable track and tracing of contacts in the event of a confirmed COVID-19 case, data must be collected on all staff, students, contractors etc., who are working, living, or visiting a tertiary education facility (including student accommodation) - a log of this information may be requested by officials on short notice. TEOs will be asked by TEC or NZQA to specifically attest that they have an appropriate log in place.
  • Any staff or student who exhibits symptoms of COVID19 should immediately contact the TEO where they work/live/study to let them know.
  • Stringent self-isolation of those who display relevant symptoms of COVID-19, test positive for COVID-19, have been in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19, or have been overseas in the last 14 days. Contact Healthline on 0800 358 5453.

b)      Principles at Alert Level 3

  • Education facilities should continue providing education services under the principles below, in conjunction with more detailed guidance  provided under Alert Level 3.
    • All teaching and other activities should be done remotely wherever possible.
    • Where it is not possible to deliver teaching online, some facilities may remain open (e.g. for research, post-graduate teaching, lab/workshops, or noho-based delivery).
    • Any class, workshops, etc., that remains open, must be limited to 10 people or less. Each group is considered a ‘bubble’ and should not interact with any other student/staff bubbles of 10 (For example, a student can attend a class or lab or workshop with a group of other students (of up to 10 students and staff), but not then move on to multiple other classes with different groups).
    • Distance learning provision will be available for others students.
    • Physical distancing requirements must be met in all situations.
    • Student accommodation should remain open and in a position to provide appropriate support to allow students to self-isolate, as required. 
    • Large classes or gatherings (of more than 10 people) are not allowed.
    • Workplace-based learning is subject to the policies and practices being applied to that type of workplace.
    • Vulnerable people (or those caring for/living with vulnerable people) should not carry out any on-site work or learning
  • Any educational facilities affected by COVID-19 will be closed for a specific period of time.

c)      Principles at Alert Level 2

  • Tertiary education facilities open, with arrangements made for vulnerable staff, students and students still located in a region with a higher alert level. Additional guidance would be issued for that scenario.
  • Most activities are allowed, but must be managed to ensure physical distancing requirements are met.
  • Gatherings of 100 people or more are not allowed.
  • Remote teaching/learning arrangements should remain available for all students (e.g. for vulnerable students), and all students/staff must be in a position to move to fully remote delivery on 24 hours’ notice.
  • Vulnerable people (or those caring for/living with vulnerable people) should not carry out any on-site work or learning.

For answers to some potential questions, click here to link to the Department of Education website.

Fees Free– Statutory Declarations

TEC understands that you are working to continue enrolling students and determine their Fees Free eligibility. For students with a ‘maybe’ eligibility status when they enter their National Student Number (NSN) on the Fees Free website, this means they may need to complete a statutory declaration to be made eligible. This must be signed by an authorised witness, something they might be unable to do under the current restrictions.

With this in mind, TEC has developed a process for verifying a student’s information to help enable us to determine eligibility during the period of restrictions only.

The following process will apply over this time:

  • Learners with a ‘maybe’ eligible status are able to generate a statutory declaration on the Fees Free website by selecting the eligibility criteria that apply to them.
  • Learner to print and sign the statutory declaration (if they can). Those learners who do not have access to a printer should contact the TEC Customer Contact Group for assistance at customerservice@tec.govt.nz or phone 0800 601 301.
  • Learner to email a copy of the completed statutory declaration to feesfreecheck@tec.govt.nz along with a copy of photo identification (passport, drivers licence, etc.).

TEC will record receipt of the email and arrange a time for a TEC-authorised delegate to contact the learner to verify their identity and the information declared via a series of questions (instead of the witness signature process). Once completed, these questions and answers will be reviewed alongside the statutory declaration, and the learner will be advised of their Fees Free eligibility status.

Update: 20 April 2020: Urgent Update for tertiary providers

This bulletin provides updates on:

Moving to Alert Level 3

This afternoon the government has announced that New Zealand will move out of Alert Level 4, as at 11.59pm on Monday 27th April. We will move into Alert Level 3 on Tuesday 28th April.  Information about the four level alert system is here.

We have been consulting across the sector in preparation for moving out of Alert Level 4, and we shared some guidance with you recently, to assist you in your planning. In summary, the guiding principles at Alert Level 3 are:

  • All teaching and other activities should be done remotely wherever possible
  • Where it is not possible to deliver teaching online, some facilities may remain open (e.g. for research, post-graduate teaching, lab/workshops, or noho-based delivery)
  • Any class, workshops, etc., that open, must be limited to 10 people or less. Each group is considered a ‘bubble’ and should not interact with any other student/staff bubbles of 10
  • Distance learning provision will be available for others students
  • Physical distancing requirements must be met in all situations
  • Student accommodation should remain open and in a position to provide appropriate support to allow students to self-isolate, as required
  • Large classes or gatherings (of more than 10 people) are not allowed
  • Workplace-based learning is subject to the policies and practices being applied to that type of workplace
  • Vulnerable people (or those caring for/living with vulnerable people) should not carry out any on-site work or learning
  • Any educational facilities affected by COVID-19 will be closed for a specific period of time.

For answers to some potential questions, click here to link to the Department of Education website.

The number one priority still remains the welfare of staff and students, and ensuring that they remain safe and well during this time.

What this means for your staff

  • Stay home. All teaching, meetings, and other usual on-site activities should continue be done remotely, wherever possible.
  • If teaching online is not possible, you can run limited classes for 10 people or less to resolve that issue. Strict physical distancing and ‘bubbles’ should be maintained at all times.
  • Preparation. Staff can go on site to prepare for practical workshops/classes, following the physical distancing guidelines.
  • Physical distancing guidelines. 2m outside home, or 1m in controlled environments (eg TEO’s).
  • Travel. Essential only i.e. for delivery of teaching/learning, research or for effective management and governance functions that cannot be done remotely, and then only within your local region.
  • Support. Any support your staff might need for themselves or to assist students, they can visit mental-health-and-wellbeing-resources.

What this means for your students

  • Stay home. Where students can access their courses online, they will continue to do so. For those students where delivery online is not possible some facilities may open (e.g. for research, post-graduate teaching, lab/workshops, or noho-based delivery).
  • Any class, workshop, laboratory etc., that opens, must be limited to 10 people or less. Each such group is considered a ‘bubble’ and should not interact with any other student/staff bubbles of 10. (For example, a student can attend a class or lab or workshop with a group of other students (of up to 10 students and staff), but not then move on to multiple other classes with different groups.
    Students in hostels, halls of residence or self-contained flats will remain open and Ministry of Health guidelines on hygiene and social distancing will remain. If students went home to join the family “bubble”, they must stay home. They cannot return to your student accommodation.
  • Support. The Student support package will continue under Alert Level 3. Claims can now be made via their MyStudyLink account. They should receive the payment into their nominated bank account within 24 - 72 hours of the claim being received.
  • Answers to questions about Student Allowance and Living Cost payments can be found on StudyLink’s website 
  • Some students will become increasingly anxious as restrictions remain in place and their mental wellbeing is likely to be impacted during this time. Sharing clear and regular information might help: about changes to their courses and assessments, how they can ask you questions about their own circumstances, and about where they can find help for urgent or unexpected costs.
  • As well as resources on the COVID19 website, there is lots of useful information online at the Mental Health Foundation  and NauMaI to guide students, where needed.
  • Student hardship will increase and there are a number of ways students can access support Visit what’s available to support students so you can guide students, where needed.

Offshore online delivery

TEOs have signalled interest in offshore online delivery to international students who are unable to enter New Zealand due to COVID-19 restrictions. NZQA will consider approval to deliver offshore online through two pathways and for two cohorts of international students.

  1. TEOs can seek temporary approval of offshore online delivery until 30 June 2020 where they have currently enrolled international students with a valid visa, who are unable to start/continue/complete their study because they are offshore and unable to enter the country.
  2. The second pathway enables approval of offshore online delivery under the Offshore Delivery Rules and is for new offshore international students, and to continue offshore online delivery to current international students beyond 30 June 2020. 

More information about offshore online delivery can be found on the NZQA website.

Update: 21 May 2020: Update for tertiary providers

NZ COVID Tracer app

The NZ COVID Tracer App was launched yesterday which will assist with contact tracing in New Zealand. Please note that this app will not be able to send contact tracing data to tertiary education organisations and therefore cannot replace collecting contact information.

Contact tracing information should still be collected and retained that identifies which students, staff (and any other visitors) have been in each ‘controlled learning space’ or ‘other controlled environment’ and at what time. A ‘controlled learning space’ may be a lecture theatre, a lab, a classroom, etc., while ‘other controlled environments’ may be a building or an outdoor site with perimeter control.

Students, staff and visitors who download the app will create a digital diary of the places they visit by scanning QR codes displayed at the entrances to business premises, other organisations and public buildings. People can also register their contact information through the app so that the National Close Contact Service can get in touch if they need to.

TEOs can generate a QR code poster for each of their premises through MBIE’s Business Connect online service. All TEO’s should already have a NZBN (you can search the NZBN.co.nz website to find your number).  Businesses operating on a tertiary campus, such as a restaurant, bookshop, etc., can also generate their own unique QR code posters using their NZBNs.

If you want to participate, you can generate a QR code poster to display for those coming on site to scan in their phones (they will need to download the app to do this).

To generate a code you will need to have the following:

Once you have your RealMe login, NZBN and authority over your business, you’ll need to register with Business Connect or login to an existing Business Connect account.

Once you’ve registered your TEO with Business Connect, you can create multiple QR codes, and then download and print a poster for each location that you want to keep track of (e.g. a lecture theatre, library, etc.). Each poster contains a QR code which your staff, students and visitors can scan using the NZ COVID Tracer app.

The poster can be displayed at the entrances of each ‘controlled learning environment’ and ‘other controlled environments’ around the tertiary campus.

TEOs should continue to have multiple overlapping systems to support contact tracing; for example, sign-in/sign-out sheets, QR code posters, swipe access, utilisation of wireless hotspot data, etc.

For more information visit business.govt.nz

The more QR code posters we have in place the more Kiwis will be able to keep track of where they’ve been with the app. This will speed up contact tracing and help stop any further spread of COVID-19, which is good for everyone.

Further information on the App (from the Ministry of Health)

“Any information you decide to record with the app will be stored securely on your phone and deleted automatically after 31 days. It’s your choice whether you share any of this information with contact tracers, and any information you do share will be used only for public health purposes and never for enforcement,” says Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield.

“Like all mobile apps, NZ COVID Tracer will be updated over time as new features are developed. In the next release, NZ COVID Tracer will be able notify you if you have been at the same location at the same time as someone who has COVID-19 and will allow you to send your digital diary directly to the National Close Contact Service.

“You will also be able to self-report any COVID-19 symptoms so you can be tested for the virus if appropriate and will be able to complete a daily health check-in through the app if you’re in isolation.

“I encourage all New Zealanders to download the NZ COVID Tracer app to help protect yourself, your friends, whânau and community by making it easier to trace the people you’ve come into close contact with.”

NZ COVID Tracer is available now from the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store.

Further information about the app can be found on the Ministry of Health's website.

Update: 12 June 2020: Update for Tertiary Providers and International

The Government is introducing a range of proposed amendments to the Education and Training Bill to assist the New Zealand education sector’s recovery from COVID-19. The proposed changes are outlined below. We will provide further update once Parliament has voted on these proposed legislative changes.

Export Education Levy (EEL)

We recognise the financial hardship your organisation is facing and the need to support the international education sector, while we look to reset and rebuild for the future.

We are now progressing legislative changes which will cancel the EEL payment obligations for enrolments in the 2020 and 2021 years.  These changes would apply retrospectively so that any levies paid in respect of enrolments after 1 January 2020 would be repaid to providers.  We will check if any payments have been made and contact the provider.

Extending Interim Code of Practice for Pastoral Care of Domestic Tertiary Students until 1 January 2022

Given the current focus on responding to and recovering from COVID-19, the Government has agreed to allow more time to develop the long-term Code of Pastoral Care and accompanying dispute resolution scheme for domestic tertiary students.

An amendment to the Education and Training Bill will extend the existing Interim Code of Practice by one year so that it expires on 1 January 2022. A new provision will also allow the Minister of Education to make minor and technical changes to the Interim Code if needed.

Plans for wide engagement and consultation on the development of an on-going Code of Pastoral Care and dispute resolution scheme are being drawn up now. Tertiary education organisations, students, sector peak bodies and networks, and others with a stake in this process will be advised how and when they can participate.

NCEA offshore

Where approved by the Minister of Education, State and State-integrated schools will temporarily be able to provide tuition to their students based offshore who are unable to enter New Zealand due to the pandemic (there is nothing preventing private schools from doing this already).

Schools will also be able to temporarily provide NCEA to these students while they are offshore, where approved by NZQA in accordance with its Rules. NZQA will be given authority to grant consent to assess for specific standards – focussing on those standards that are more suitable to teaching, learning and assessment by distance.

These changes are time-limited and will expire on 1 January 2023. This will allow affected students who are in Year 11 in 2020, to continue their NCEA pathway through to Level 3. These provisions only apply in respect of students who have an existing 2020 enrolment with a New Zealand school.

Update: 1 May 2020: TEC update on extramural delivery of programmes

TEC has provided clarity on the rules regarding changes to your programme delivery in response to COVID-19 restrictions on face-to-face engagement.

You can read the letter here (PDF, 696 Kb)

Update: 7 May 2020: Update for tertiary providers

The Government has outlined what Alert Level 2 will look like. A decision about whether New Zealand will move to Alert Level 2 will be made by Cabinet on Monday 11 May. The Prime Minister has said that the move to Alert Level 2 would occur with 48 hours’ notice.  See information about the four level alert system.

To enable you to begin planning, under Alert level 2, all on-site activities at tertiary education facilities can resume, such as classes, lectures, labs, workshops, tutorials, noho, and meetings.

However, TEO’s must maintain their ability to deliver courses remotely, and should be in a position to transition to fully remote learning (if required).

Tertiary education staff are no longer restricted to interacting face-to-face with one group of students. However, strict public health control measures should be in place.

Specific public health control measures for TEOs to be put in place are:

  • Contact tracing information should be collected and retained that identifies which students, staff (and any other visitors) have been in each ‘controlled learning space’ or ‘other controlled environment’ and at what time. A ‘controlled learning space’ may be a lecture theatre, a lab, a classroom, etc., while ‘other controlled environments’ may be a building or an outdoor site with perimeter control.
  • Physical distancing of two metres should be maintained where people do not know each other and where contact tracing measures are not in place. In areas designated ‘controlled learning spaces’ or ‘other controlled environments’, where contact tracing and strict hygiene practices are in place, people should be encouraged and enabled to maintain physical distancing of one metre, where possible.
  • Students and staff should remain at home if they are sick, have any COVID-19 symptoms, are in isolation, or are awaiting COVID-19 test results.
  • Hand sanitiser should be available at entry to classrooms, lecture theatres etc., and students and staff should ensure they are regularly washing and drying their hands.
  • Disinfect and clean all TEO facilities regularly, with a particular focus on any surfaces or items that are likely to come into frequent contact with different students. For example, desks, door handles, keyboards, workshop tools, etc. that multiple people are likely to touch should be disinfected as often as is practical. 
  • On-campuses businesses such as gyms, pharmacies, cafes, restaurant, etc. must operate in accordance with the public health control measures that apply to that type of business.
  • Residential accommodation is a type of ‘other controlled environment’, and TEOs should therefore ensure robust contact tracing information is collected on all those who enter the premises (including any guests of residents). Strict hygiene and cleaning protocols should also be in place.
  • There is no specific size limit for education-related gatherings (lectures, classes, etc.) though TEOs should manage the capacity of all spaces (including lecture theatres) to ensure there is enough room for students and staff to maintain appropriate physical distancing (ideally one metre, where possible). This may mean that some larger lectures continue to be delivered online for some students.
  • Large gatherings that are not directly education-related, such as speaking events open to the public, cultural events, social events, etc. should be limited to a maximum of 100 and must follow public health control measures that apply to gatherings.
  • Social events with external visitors are not allowed within residential accommodation.  Hostels, halls and other residential accommodation may have social events involving people who are resident in that accommodation, but need to exercise restraint over the size and scale of these.  Students in residential accommodation may have a small number of family or close friends as visitors within accommodation, but TEOs need to ensure this is managed so as not to result in large gatherings taking place.
  • Workplace-based learning should be managed within the specific public health control measures that apply to that type of workplace.
  • Close-contact courses such as training for hair dressers, beauty salons, physiotherapists, etc., should operate in accordance with the public health control measures that apply to that occupation. This applies whether the training is conducted in the workplace, or on-site at a tertiary facility.
  • PPE is not required or recommended as necessary in any educational facility by the Public Health Service, except for in research facilities (where this would normal be required) and during other activities where PPE is specified as a public health control measure (such as for some close-contact work/training).

For more detail about what these public health measures mean for TEOs, along with more detailed FAQs, visit public health control measures for TEO's at Alert Level 2.

To ensure we maintain the gains of Alert Levels 3 and 4, TEOs are asked to ensure the above measures are maintained at all their facilities/campuses. However, TEOs are not responsible for managing or monitoring activities of staff and students outside these facilities/campuses.

Upon advice from the local medical officer of health, any educational facilities connected to a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19 must close on an individual or group basis, for as long as directed by that medical officer of health.

However, this does not mean that the entire institution would necessarily need to close. The extent of the required closures will depend on the nature of the COVID-19 case, and may be limited to a single building or group of buildings, as required to ensure the risk of infection is managed. The decision on this should be made by the TEO in consultation with medical officer of health.

TEC advice to Tertiary Education Organisations: 31 March 2020

TEC Chief Executive Tim Fowler has written to all TEC-funded Tertiary Education Organisations to explain the effect COVID-19 restrictions will have on funding and recovery processes.

You can read the letter here (PDF, 236 Kb)

Update: 13 May 2020: Update for tertiary providers

This bulletin provides updates on:

  • Prime Minister's announcement on moving to Alert Level 2
  • Wellbeing for staff and students

Moving to Alert Level 2

The government has announced that New Zealand will move out of Alert Level 3, at 11.59pm on Wednesday 13th May. We will move into Alert Level 2 on Thursday 14th May. See Information about the four level alert system.

Under Alert Level 2, all on-site activities at tertiary education facilities can resume i.e. classes, lectures, labs, workshops, tutorials, noho, and meetings. However, strict public health control measures need to be in place before you can open.

For more detail about what these public health measures mean for TEOs, along with more detailed FAQs, visit public health control measures for TEO's at Alert Level 2.

You can choose to take a phased approach to resuming activities on-site to allow time to put the required public health control measures in place. For example, you could continue with online delivery for a few weeks and phase in face to face learning, when you are ready.

TEOs will need to keep in close contact with staff and students about which specific facilities and activities will be reopening, and when.

On Monday, the government asked that ‘gatherings’ be limited to 10 people initially. The government will look at these remaining restrictions again in two weeks’ time and if the numbers continue to look good the number of people at a social event, will grow.

As outlined in our detailed guidelines for TEOs, workplaces, educational facilities, and public and school transport are not considered gatherings. This means there are no restrictions on the number of students and staff on-site at a tertiary education facility, other than what normal health and safety principles would permit. TEOs should manage capacity of lectures, etc. to enable one metre physical distancing, where possible.

However, gatherings that are not directly education-related, such as speaking events open to the public, cultural events, social events, etc. should be limited to a maximum of 10 attendees and should follow public health control measures that apply to gatherings.

Wellbeing for staff and students

We acknowledge that recent times have seen increased pressure and stress on staff and students.  You have been asked to make changes in your lives that will be affecting how you work, how you relate to others and what you can and can’t do. We thank you for your dedication during this difficult time.

As tertiary education facilities start welcoming people back to campus, we still need to prioritise the wellbeing of staff and students as they return to classes, lectures, labs, workshops, noho and meetings.

As well as resources on the COVID19 website, there is lots of useful information online at the Mental Health Foundation  and NauMai that can be shared with students and staff.

Update: 14 April 2020: Ensuring continuity and adequacy of student support

Education Minister Chris Hipkins today announced a support package to financially assist tertiary students whose study has been affected by Covid-19.

“The Government wants to give certainty to students as soon as possible so that they can continue to be engaged in their education and will be supported adequately until such time that tertiary education providers can put in place alternative ways of delivering teaching and learning.
This short-term tertiary domestic package will be available from Wednesday 15 April,” Chris Hipkins said.

“Key measures include:

  • helping to cover extra costs by increasing student loan course-related costs from $1,000 to $2,000 on a temporary basis
  • continuing support payments for students unable to study on-line for up to 8 weeks to allow providers sufficient time to make alternative arrangements to enable distance learning
  • technical changes to ensure that:
    • where students receive partial tuition fee refunds in 2020 because their course has been discontinued due to Covid-19, this will not affect their future entitlement to student loans
    • where students are unable to complete a course of study in 2020 due to Covid-19, this will not affect their entitlement to Fees Free tertiary study. 

These measures, together with the support the Ministry of Social Development can already give, aim to provide an immediate response to the financial impact Covid-19 is having on tertiary students.

More information is available on the Ministry of Education website and the StudyLink website.

About the package:

Who does this package apply to?
It applies to all fulltime domestic students studying at university, institutes of technology, polytechnics, wānanga or private training establishments this year whether they are enrolled already or planning to enrol.

Why are these changes needed?
These changes are to ensure income continuity and adequacy for tertiary domestic students during the Covid-19 outbreak. Many students’ incomes have been impacted because they have not been able to continue part-time work. Others have had to move from cities during the lockdown. Some are facing additional costs to connect to the digital technologies they need to continue studying their programmes in different ways.

What do students have to do to apply for support?
Information regarding how to apply for support will be available from StudyLink (MSD), the Ministry of Education and your provider.

Why is the extended study break only for eight weeks?
It has been extended from a period of 3 weeks to 8 weeks, because students’ study has been interrupted while providers reorganise their courses. At this stage, we expect all students to be continuing their studies within 8 weeks.

Do students have to extend their allowance or loan?
No, StudyLink will advise all affected students about the continuation of their student loan payments and provide students with an option to ‘opt-out’ if they do not wish to continue drawing on their student loans.

Do these supports apply to students who have withdrawn recently?
We have been advising students to stay enrolled so that they can access assistance packages such as this. If students have already withdrawn before 14th April, this package won’t be available to them. But, for students who were receiving Fees Free this year, their study so far will not affect their eligibility for their Fees Free entitlement in the future.

Does this package include support for additional costs for studying remotely?
Officials are still exploring some of the challenges that students are facing accessing study remotely. The additional $1,000 is to spend on course costs to support learning at home, for example on internet costs and increased energy consumption.

What if my parent’s income has reduced because of COVID-19?
StudyLink (MSD) has flexibility to reassess the support available to you based on your parent’s expected income. If your parent’s income has decreased because of COVID-19, then you may be able to access more financial support through StudyLink. You can find out more on the StudyLink website.

What additional support is available for students’ mental health needs?
Students can access mental health support services through their providers. The way these services are delivered may have changed, for example interviews may now be online or by phone. Students should talk to their providers regarding how to access these services.There is a range of other support available to New Zealander’s. This includes online resources like the: Low Down, Mental Health Foundation and Ministry of Health’s website.

Does this package apply to international students?
International students cannot access direct financial assistance in the same way as domestic students. In usual circumstances, international students are required to have supports in place during their study. Government is concerned to make sure that international students have access to the essential services that can provide for their basic needs so international students can use

  • COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme: available to temporary work visa holders whose full-time or part-time employment has been affected by COVID-19 (although this will have limited effect for international students)
  • Temporary Accommodation Service: suitable for foreign nationals in need of temporary accommodation during the lockdown period or until assisted departure options become available (most likely tourists and working holiday makers but could include some international students)
  • Civil Defence Emergency Management support: welfare assistance to foreign nationals (including accommodation support, transportation and essential goods and services) provided by community and NGO providers, paid for by local authorities and reimbursed under the Guide to the National Civil Defence Emergency Management Plan 2015.
  • Community Response Package: funding to boost community/NGO provision of emergency support to people impacted by and in vulnerable situations due to COVID-19; (however, the majority of this funding bolsters NGO services unlikely to meet foreign nationals’ needs (e.g. family violence, disability support services) but may have some impact for international students)
  • COVID-19 related healthcare: available free-of-charge for anyone in New Zealand, regardless of their visa status.

International students can also speak to their provider and to their embassy as they may be able to offer support too.

Did Government consider the request in the NZUSA Action Plan for a universal benefit?
Government considered a range of requests and advice before announcing this package. At this stage, we wanted to move quickly on providing relief so decided it was better to use existing mechanisms such as course related costs, and student loans and allowances, rather than wait till a new process, which could take some time, was set up. Another reason we preferred not to explore a universal benefit is because different students will be needing help with different things. Some may choose to access an increase to their cost related costs, others to extend their student loans.

How soon can students expect to see the course-related costs in their bank accounts?
Government is moving quickly on this and wants this processed promptly. Information about how to access the supports announced today, and when the payment will be processed, will be available from Studylink, or talk to your provider.

If the lockdown is extended, are you planning on boosting student allowances?
These are unprecedented times and it’s not clear how long the impact of COVID 19 will be with us. One of our main concerns is to keep students in study as soon as we could. This package gives assistance that students can access now when many have different costs they need to meet so they can learn from home, and while providers make plans for how they will deliver programmes over the next few months.

Will I receive a refund for my stay at the halls of residence?
Students in halls of residence have signed contracts with their provider. As these contracts differ between providers, it’s best to check your contract and then talk to your provider about what arrangements might be available to help you.

Is the government planning on releasing any information outlining employment rights’ information for tertiary students?
Government is working to make sure that any entitlements and allowances – for study, for hardship, for employment – are transparent and readily available. MBIE is updating information on what support is available for employees and this is likely to cover information relevant to students who are studying part-time.

Will there be any extra support for students who have lost their part-time jobs?
This package is designed to keep you in study now. Further work is continuing to find out what options may help priority groups of learners but this is in its early stages.

Update: 30 April 2020: Update for tertiary providers 

This bulletin provides guidance on:

Health Act (COVID-19 Alert Level 3) Order 2020 and the implications for TEO operations

Last Friday, the Government signed the Health Act (COVID-19 Alert Level 3) Order 2020 which sets out the legal framework for operating under Alert Level three, including the minimum requirements for TEO operations. This order came into effect at 11.59pm, Monday 27 April.

The key message under Level 3 remains: staff and students should continue to work/learn from home where this is possible.

We have updated our detailed guidance for TEOs operating under Alert Level 3 to ensure alignment with this new Health Order, which you can access on the Ministry of Education's website.  The guidelines are not significantly different from last week but have been strengthened in terms of infection control, following Worksafe guidelines, outdoor gatherings and physical distancing in student accommodation.

A summary of these guidelines for how TEOs should operate under Level 3 is provided below.

Requirements for operating under Level 3

  • Providers operating under any Alert Level must ensure that appropriate infection control measures and Worksafe guidelines are met (as relevant to that Alert Level).
  • Infection control measures for TEOs under Level 3 include: physical distancing, contact tracing, maintaining stable bubbles.
  • Worksafe have provided guidelines on how to keep your staff healthy and safe, reduce the chances of COVID-19 recurring and ensure that you can continue to operate without moving back to Level 4.
  • To enable contact tracing, TEOs must collect names, contact details, buildings visited, etc., of all staff, students, contractors (e.g. plumbers, electricians, cleaners), who go on site.
  • Physical distancing at Level 3 within tertiary facilities means keeping 1m away from people at all times.
  • Staff should not have multiple 'bubbles'.

Accommodation and food

  • In tertiary accommodation:
    • ‘Bubbles’ should be maintained.
    • Close contact should be limited to people of the same ‘bubble’ (which may be a single floor in a halls of residence); common social and recreation areas should be closed (except those shared by a single ‘bubble’); and there should be split shift access to common areas for staff.
    • Contact tracing processes must be in place, as per the requirements for operating under level 3 above.
  • Students who left residential accommodation before lockdown, to join a 'bubble' with friends, family or whānau, should not return to student accommodation under Level 3.
  • Private flats are not covered by this TEO guidance.
  • On campus food venues should be closed to customers, but may operate for delivery and contactless collections in compliance with relevant infection control measures.

Site Access and outdoor gatherings

  • Site Access permissions are not required under Level 3.
  • Anyone who is not a student/staff/contractor (e.g. plumber, electrician, cleaner) should not be on site at a tertiary education facility.
  • Outdoor gatherings on tertiary campuses are not allowed.
  • TEOs may wish to put up signs around campus stating there must be no gatherings

Key messages to communicate to your students are:

  • Stay home. Courses will still be delivered remotely, wherever possible. If a tertiary facility is opened (i.e. for research, postgraduate teaching, lab/workshops, or noho-based delivery), then students/staff may travel locally (or to their neighbouring region) to attend these classes.
  • Stay in your 'bubble'. Hostel, hall of residence or other accommodation will remain open to those who have stayed during Level 4. Ministry of Health guidelines on hygiene and social distancing will remain. If you moved to join a 'bubble' with friends, family or whānau, you must stay home. You cannot return to your student accommodation under Level 3.
  • There is extra help if they need it. They can access financial assistance or support through;
  • student support package
  • emergency assistance to cover costs of food, rent etc.
  • assistance for international students
  • counselling and support e.g. through their GP of local community centre

Planning for Alert Level 2

  • Now we have moved to Level 3, planning is underway for the eventuality of moving to Alert Level 2. Note we do not currently have a timeframe for any potential shift in Alert levels. A review of our current alert level is due from the government on the 11th May.
  • At the heart of being able to move to Level 2 and beyond will be the ability of providers to ensure that appropriate infection control measures and Worksafe guidelines are met (as relevant to that Alert Level).
  • We have provided some high level guidelines for Level 2 and we will be working with you in the coming days to ensure we come up with workable solutions for the sector that are aligned to the government guidelines

Update: 10 June 2020: Update for tertiary providers

Now we are at Alert Level 1, the main national control measures are border restrictions and managed isolation or quarantine for people entering the country.  While we are at Alert Level 1, it will be critical that we all remain vigilant. There is still a global pandemic, which is likely to continue for some time, and we therefore need to be in a state of readiness to respond quickly should a new case of COVID-19 be detected within the community. This means that individuals should be continuing good hygiene practices, keeping track of where they go and who they meet.

For more information on the 10 Golden Rules for everyone at Alert Level 1, visit COVID-19.govt.nz website. Information about the four level alert system.

At Alert Level 1, the general guidelines for TEOs are:

  • all on-site activities at tertiary education facilities can resume as normal, including classes, lectures, labs, workshops, tutorials, noho, meetings, etc.
  • all staff and students may return to on-campus activities.
  • TEOs are not required to maintain records to enable contact tracing, but may continue to collect this information as long as they protect people’s privacy and safety.
  • TEOs are encouraged to enable individuals (i.e. staff, students, and visitors) to keep track of where they have been by displaying QR codes so people can use the COVID Tracer app.
  • TEOs are not required to maintain physical distancing.
  • remote learning and teaching systems should be maintained in case of a move to a higher alert level.
  • TEOs should be ready to move up alert levels at short notice (i.e. be ready to implement the required public health control measures of each level).
  • If a staff or student is concerned about their wellbeing, or has underlying health conditions, they should work with their GP or other health professional to understand how best to stay healthy.

Further detail on contact tracing

Under Alert Level 1, the ability to undertake rapid contact tracing will be critical to enable us to quickly get on top of and suppress any future outbreak of COVID-19.

To support this, people are encouraged to keep track of where they have been and who they have had contact with to enable rapid contact tracing in the event they have contact with an active case, for example, by using the COVID Tracer app.

While TEOs would not be required under Alert Level 1 to maintain a contact tracing register themselves (as they are at Alert Level 2-4), they are encouraged to enable individuals (i.e. staff, students, and visitors) to keep track of where they have been by displaying QR codes so people can use the COVID Tracer app.

TEOs would not be required to enforce that people scan the QR code before entering a building, but should encourage this.

TEOs may (if they wish) continue to operate contact tracing registers on their facilities. However, this is not required, and should only be done so as long as the TEO is able to protect peoples’ privacy and safety.

Interim Code of Practice

New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) has released the Implementation Guidance for the Education (Pastoral Care of Domestic Tertiary Students) Interim Code of Practice 2019 (guidance).

This is intended to help tertiary education organisations (TEOs) put the Interim Code into practice and achieve its outcomes. It is an optional tool to assist providers in understanding the requirements of the Interim Code. Compliance with the Interim Code is mandatory, use of the guidance material is not.

The guidance:

  • introduces the Interim Code
  • provides the principles for implementing the Interim Code
  • suggests key factors to keep in mind when implementing the Interim Code
  • describes NZQA’s role as the Code administrator
  • provides information on the development of an ongoing code,
  • provides detailed guidance for understanding and applying each outcome (and the processes within).

This guidance will be updated as required to remain current and fit for purpose.

Further information can be found on the NZQA website.   

If you have any further questions, please contact code.enquiries@nzqa.govt.nz.

Re-instating Fees Free entitlements for learners impacted by COVID-19

Many learners have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 lockdown situation either by not being able to participate fully in their studies or training, or due to illness or financial hardship.  This has resulted in some learners withdrawing from their study or training or failing courses. Tertiary Education Organisations may inform learners who used their Fees Free entitlement to study or train that this will not be counted as part of their Fees Free consumption, if they have not successfully completed it due to the impacts of COVID-19.

The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) has been given the discretion to ‘write-off’ some or all of learners’ 2020 Fees Free consumption if they are an eligible learner and:

  • they withdrew from study or training due to the impact of COVID-19; or 
  • their study or training was adversely affected due to the impact of COVID-19

The TEC is working on a process that will reinstate the entitlements of learners who withdrew from 23 March to 30 June 2020, without learners needing to apply. The process is not yet in place. However, learners shouldn’t worry if their entitlement has not yet been reinstated, as it will be soon.

For withdrawals outside of the period from 23 March to 30 June 2020, or where learners didn’t withdraw, but their studies were adversely affected, there will be an application process for reinstatement of your entitlement. The TEC will make this information available soon.  

Update: 6 May 2020: Update for tertiary providers

This bulletin includes updates on:

  • Support for tertiary students to learn online
  • Advice on students wanting to return to accommodation under Alert Level 3

Government announces $20 million to support tertiary students to learn online

Education Minister Chris Hipkins has announced a $20 million fund to help eligible tertiary learners continue their education disrupted by COVID-19. Read the full announcement.

The fund will be available to tertiary education organisations including Wānanga, the NZIST and its subsidiaries, Universities, Transitional Industry Training Organisations and Private Training Establishments who will be required to ensure vulnerable students are prioritised.

TEC intends to open an application process for a second phase of funding in the coming weeks. The application process will allow TEOs not covered by the initial round, and those who need more funding, to apply.

Details on how tertiary providers can access the fund are available on the TEC website.

Advice on students wanting to return to tertiary accommodation under Alert Level 3

Student accommodation has remained open during Level 4 and Level 3, although many students have returned to their whanau. As set out in the Guidelines for TEOs on how to operate under different Alert Levels, students who left residential accommodation before lockdown, to join a “bubble” with friends, family or whānau, should not return to student accommodation under Alert Level 3.  The aim of this is to minimise the number of tertiary students travelling across the country, leaving their current bubble and potentially entering a new bubble.

However, under exceptional circumstances, a student may return to their accommodation if;

  • they face serious welfare/safety issues
  • there is absolutely no way for them to learn remotely from their current residence
  • a student has no other appropriate accommodation

A student finding it difficult to study at their current residence, or wanting to attend on-site classes/workshops (where these have reopened), are not what we would consider to be valid reasons for a student to return to their accommodation.

The decision on whether a domestic or international student should return must be agreed between the provider and the student. Students will not be accepted at student accommodation unless the exception is agreed with the provider. Acceptance will be based on whether:

  • specific circumstances of the student meet the above guidelines for granting exemptions
  • the provider can guarantee they are able to safely self-isolate the returning student, in line with the Ministry of Health guidelines re social distancing and hygiene practices
  • they can comply with the Ministry of Transport guidelines on travel under Alert Level 3.

Providers must keep a record of all students who return to their student accommodation under Alert Level 3, in line with existing contact tracing requirements.

Private flats are not covered by this advice but we would still recommend that these students remain in their current accommodation and avoid relocating, unless this is absolutely necessary.

If a student needs to return to a private flat, they must follow general guidance on travel and relocations during Alert Level 3 (see COVID-19 website and MOT Guidelines on travel).

Emotional and mental health are still important. Students may be feeling stressed or lonely, especially if they are self-isolating or are worried about family and friends overseas. Providers should encourage students to reach out to their usual supports, like family and friends, and to talk about how they feel. Under the international Code, providers must ensure that appropriate measures are put in place to address the needs and issues of international students at risk or with special needs.

Update: 31 March 2020: Travel information for international tertiary students

We understand many things are uncertain at the moment and we want to reassure you that the Government is working to respond quickly to your needs.

This update provides advice around potential international flights and travelling to board a flight.

  • Under Alert Level 4, people need to stay home. No travel is allowed around the country, except for essential services.
  • Under Alert Level 4, you cannot take a domestic flight to connect with an international flight. If students are not in self-isolation, are well, and have a confirmed booking on a commercial international flight and can drive to the airport by car in 5 hours or less, they may travel by car to the airport.
  • Alert Level 4 restrictions on travel in New Zealand are important for us all to respect to protect the health of everyone in New Zealand and to save lives. If you are travelling within the country please respect the physical distancing requirements.
  • Some countries are looking to repatriate their citizens by making special flights and have been in contact with students directly via email.
  • At present, no repatriation flights have been approved by the New Zealand Government. We will update you if this situation changes.
  • With no repatriation flights approved, students who do not have a confirmed commercial flight booked (as above) should remain with their homestay or accommodation providers and not attempt any travel.
  • We have asked education providers and homestay families to keep in close contact with you to ensure that you have access to suitable accommodation and, have the care, support and information you need to deal with any issues including visas, insurance, and other support. 

Stay up to date and get more information below:

For official Government information about COVID-19 (novel coronavirus), including health advice and travel restrictions visit the All-of-Government website 

For health advice, please refer to the Ministry of Health’s website.

For more advice for students visit the Ministry of Education website

To keep updated on travel restrictions and visa information visit 

Update: 2 April 2020: Update for domestic tertiary students

Update for domestic tertiary students

We know some students are facing significant difficulties in continuing their studies, because of changes in their own situation arising from lockdown and/or changes in their providers’ ability to offer courses. Staying enrolled is the best way we can help you.

We will keep updating you with answers to your main questions, provide information on what support is available and tips for your wellbeing during these times. If your question is not answered here today, we will try to provide an answer as soon as possible.

Your physical and mental wellbeing is likely to be impacted during this time. As well as resources on the COVID19 website, there is lots of useful information online at the Mental Health Foundation and Health Promotion Agency. 

What is available to support me financially right now?

  • While other options might look better, stay enrolled because:
    • You will keep receiving your StudyLink payments
    • You will be eligible for any additional student support being worked on
  • The Ministry of Social Development may be able to help you with other costs while you’re self-isolating. This includes costs that are urgent, unexpected or harder to cover, such as food and accommodation. You can find out more at StudyLink- Urgent and unexpected costs
  • More information on student loans and/or allowances or tertiary education matters more generally can be found at StudyLink and Ministry of Education COVID-19 site
  • Your tertiary provider may also be offering extra help for students during this time, so it’s worth looking on their website / Facebook page, or even contacting them directly to ask.

If I withdraw from my courses, will this have an impact on my Fees Free entitlement?

  • Yes, this could have an impact on your Fees Free entitlement.
  • We are working urgently to figure out how we will be able to help Fees Free students who are disadvantaged because they had to withdraw. 
  • Stay enrolled in your courses if you can, and continue to engage with your provider about options available to you to continue your studies this year.

What if I can’t afford to pay my rent because I’ve lost my part-time job?

  • If you have been working part-time to help cover your tertiary education costs, you may be eligible for the wage subsidy scheme Government has put in place. You can find further information at COVID-19 Financial support and COVID-19 Wage subsidy
  • There is now a freeze on rental increases. This means your landlord cannot increase your rent unless the increase occurred before lockdown.  To find out more, visit rent freeze and tenancy terminations
  • You can ask your landlord to reduce your rent temporarily. The Residential Tenancies Act allows a tenant/s and landlord to agree that the tenant/s can pay a reduced rent temporarily. This reduced rent can be for a specific amount of time or until a specific event occurs. Once that time is up, the rent goes back up to its previous amount.

 

Update: 2 April 2020: Update for Tertiary Providers and International Students

The government has today released its plan to safely repatriate foreign nationals including international students while the country is in lockdown.  We understand the past few days have been uncertain for you and the government is working to respond quickly to your needs.

This update provides advice for international students who want to depart New Zealand on scheduled commercial or foreign-government assisted charter flights.

  • If you are a student intending to travel, you should speak to your education provider about travel arrangements.  They are working with the government and have all the latest and accurate information.
  • Under Alert Level 4, international students are now able to leave New Zealand on scheduled commercial or foreign-government assisted charter flights.
  • You must have a confirmed booking and a valid international ticket to travel to the airport and depart New Zealand.
  • To get to an airport, you must be able to drive in private transport, or complete a public transport, taxi or uber ride within two hours or a single domestic flight (commercial or charted) to either Auckland or Christchurch International Airport.
  • Students travelling to airports must follow the Alert 4 health and safety advice to protect themselves and others. These measures include ensuring 2 metres distance between people, coughing/sneezing into an elbow, washing and drying hands often.
  • Educational providers must ensure certain requirements are met under the Code. These include:
  • Clear and timely communication with students and parents about travel. Parents and students should only be consenting to travel with an informed understanding of the relevant risks and the possibility of changing plans.
  • A transfer of care plan for under 18 students that is agreed to in writing (digitally) by the student’s parent or legal guardian.
  • Appropriate and safe supervision for students under 18 to ensure that the wellbeing of the student is maintained during their transfer of care.
  • We have included a check list on the following page to assist you with students under 18.

For more information on other travel criteria, visit Update on domestic travel criteria for foreign nationals returning home.

Checklist for providers with students under 18

Is the student eligible to travel?

Students must:

  • not have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and if recovered from COVID-19, have medical clearance to travel;
  • not have symptoms consistent with COVID-19;
  • not be awaiting test results for COVID-19;
  • not be a close contact of a suspected/probable/confirmed case of COVID-19; and
  • not have travelled internationally within the last 14 days
  • Have the student’s parents been provided with the relevant information to support their decision about the flight?

This should include, but is not limited to:

  • Information on the current situation in New Zealand (for example, the link to the COVID-19 website, MoH situation updates etc.)
  • Information on current education and pastoral care arrangements, and ongoing supports available
  • Information on the support the signatory can give to repatriation arrangements (for example, intended approach to transport, supervision, accommodation, transfer of care and communication arrangements, including the possibility that plans may change)
  • Information on insurance coverage (where the insurance was arranged by the signatory)
  • Information on enrolment continuation / deferral processes
  • Information on any refund provisions
  • Information on who to contact for further information (eg Embassy, Immigration New Zealand for visa queries).
    Have the parents or guardians of the student confirmed in writing (digitally) that they approve the student travelling back to their home country under these circumstances?

Have the parents or guardians of the student confirmed in writing (digitally) that they approve the student travelling back to their home country under these circumstances?

Does the student have a confirmed airline ticket for an outbound international flight?

  • This may be a commercial flight or a foreign government repatriation flight. Young students may need to be registered as Unaccompanied Minors.

Is there approved, safe transportation and supervision arranged for travel to the airport?

  • This transport must be agreed with the student’s parents, and meet the requirements of the Alert Level 4 lockdown

Is there a transfer of care plan in place for the student?

  • Students should not be left alone without supervision and support. The Transfer of Care plan must ensure that students have appropriate supervision at the airport (for example, airline staff if they’re travelling as an Unaccompanied Minor, or Embassy officials for repatriation flights), and that those supervisors understand their obligations.

Have clear communication protocols been established with the students, their parents, and the other parties involved with the flights and transport within New Zealand?

  • This includes the requirement to notify parents of any changes in the detail of flights, transit, etc., and emergency contact details should anything go wrong (eg student becomes unwell, misses a connection etc.).

 

For more advice for students, visit the Ministry of Education website

To keep updated on travel restrictions and visa information visit the Immigration NZ website

Update: 3 April 2020: Access to tertiary sites prohibited

Access to all tertiary education sites has now been prohibited. The exceptions are for access for tertiary education accommodation services, as these are regarded as essential.

There are also limited circumstances under which access to tertiary education sites can be granted by the Secretary for Education. This permission can only be granted upon submission of an application form.

These restrictions will continue as long as New Zealand is at Alert Level 4 for COVID-19, which is the highest alert level and aims to restrict movement around and within communities to the maximum extent possible.

You can see the circumstances under which access may be granted here and find the permission form here.

Stay up to date and get more information below:

For official Government information about COVID-19 (novel coronavirus), including health advice and travel restrictions visit the All-of-Government website 

For health advice, refer to the Ministry of Health’s website

For more advice for students, visit the Ministry of Education website

To keep updated on travel restrictions and visa information visit the Immigration NZ website

Update: 20 April 2020: Tertiary Students

Moving to Alert Level 3

This afternoon the government has announced that New Zealand will move out of Alert Level 4, as at 11.59pm on Monday 27th April. We will move into Alert Level 3 on Tuesday 28th April.    Information about the four level alert system is here.

What this means for you

Movement and travel

Stay home. If you can access your courses online, continue to do so.  If you can’t access your course online, some facilities at your tertiary organisation may open (e.g. for research, post-graduate teaching, lab/workshops, or noho-based delivery). Contact your provider for more details.

Student accommodation

Stay in your “bubble”. Hostel, hall of residence or other accommodation provided by your tertiary organisation will remain open to those who have stayed during lockdown level 4. Ministry of Health guidelines on hygiene and social distancing will remain.

 If you moved to join a “bubble” with friends, family or whānau, you must stay home. You cannot return to your student accommodation under Alert Level 3.

Student support

The Student support package will continue under Alert Level 3.

Claims can now be made via your MyStudyLink account. You should receive the payment into your nominated bank account within 24 - 72 hours of the claim being received.

Answers to questions about Student Allowance and Living Cost payments can be found on StudyLink’s website https://www.studylink.govt.nz/.

Student hardship

  • If you need extra help during this time you can find information about emergency assistance on the StudyLink website here
  • If you are an international student, you can access the following essential services to help with basic needs here.  You can also speak to your provider and/ or your embassy as they may be able to offer some support too.

Stress counselling and support

Emergencies are usually unexpected, sudden and overwhelming. It's natural to feel emotionally and physically drained.

You’re not alone in this and you don’t need to cope on your own. Talk to your friends and family members to help you cope. You can get more help and also information from:

  • your education provider
  • your GP or local community health centre
  • Youthline 0800 376 633  www.youthline.co.nz 
  • Need To Talk  by calling or texting 1737
  • In an emergency always call 111.

Things change quickly so stay up to date by following the links below:

For health advice, refer to the Ministry of Health’s website

For official Government information about COVID-19 (novel coronavirus), including health advice and travel restrictions visit the All-of-Government website 

For more advice for students, visit the Ministry of Education website

Update: 23 April 2020: Update for tertiary providers

This bulletin provides updates on:

Guidance on operating at Alert Level3

  • All decisions about staff and students must be in line with public health requirements
  • Under Level 3, all tertiary education should still be delivered remotely, wherever possible
  • Some facilities at your tertiary organisation may open (e.g. for research, postgraduate teaching, lab/workshops, or noho-based delivery), following Ministry of Health guidelines, in particular with regards to physical distancing and hygiene. Track and tracing requirements must be in place (guidance on this on page two)
  • Students who left student accommodation before lockdown, to join a “bubble” with friends, family or whānau, should remain where they are, and should not return to student accommodation under Alert Level 3.

Guidance on Site Access to tertiary education facilities now, and under Alert Level 3

  • From 6.00pm on Tuesday 21 April, in addition to the set of Essential Services with automatic Site Access approval set out on the Education.govt website, automatic Site Access approval is also being extended to “necessary work”.
  • “Necessary work” includes work required to prepare the premises for opening (and meet public health requirements) after 11.59pm on Monday 27 April 2020, as well as “minimum basic operations required to maintain the condition or value of, or clean, the premises, plant, equipment, or goods, care for animals, acquire additional stock and to enable workers to be able to continue to work remotely from their homes”.
  • Individual permission to access tertiary education facilities to undertake this “necessary work” is not required
  • Until we move to Alert Level 3 at 11.59pm on Monday 27 April, all other visits to a tertiary site for activities not covered by the above “necessary work” category still require specific Site Access approval.
  • Once we move to Level 3, Site Access permission for tertiary education facilities will not be required for the limited set of activities that are allowable under Alert Level 3 (as set out in the guidance on the Education website e.g. Laboratories and workshops). Site Access permission to tertiary education facilities will still be needed for any other activity that is outside of this set of allowable activities.

Guidance on tracking and tracing requirements

  • Under all Alert Levels TEOs must maintain an up-to-date log of all staff, students, contractors, etc. who go on-site at one of their tertiary facilities. In line with public health advice this is critical for tracking and tracing potential outbreaks of COVID-19.
  •  TEOs are also required to provide a formal letter/email to NZQA (for PTEs) and the TEC (for all other TEOs) confirming that they are collecting this information to enable tracking and tracing, and are able to provide this information to agencies on short notice, when requested.
  • It is critical that TEOs have appropriate information collection mechanisms in place before opening up any facilities (in line with Alert Level 3 guidance).  If a TEO does not have track and trace processes in place, then staff/students/contractors should not be going on site, even after we move to Alert Level 3.

Accessing hand sanitiser – update for Tertiary Education Institutions only

We have streamlined access to government contracts so you can purchase cleaning products and hygiene supplies from NXP or Office Max at preferential prices.  Both suppliers have stock of all cleaning products, including hand sanitiser, and have national distribution networks

Tertiary Education Institutions who already purchase products from these suppliers under the All of Government Office Consumables contract can continue to order through their normal channels (via the supplier’s website or 0800 number).

If you already order through one of these companies but you’ve not joined the AoG Office Consumables contract, you can continue to order through your normal channels and your pricing will be adjusted to the lower preferential pricing.
 
Tertiary Education Institutions who do not currently purchase from one of these two suppliers can call either of the suppliers and place an order over the phone – NXP on 0800 726 484, or OfficeMax on 0800 426 473.
 
Some things to note:

  • Stock will be progressively available, with large quantities available from 28 April
  • To avoid unnecessary stock level issues, orders will be monitored to ensure products are allocated fairly and efficiently. The suppliers may impose maximum order limits if required
  • You must treat all product and pricing information as confidential and must not disclose it to third parties or use it for any other purpose
  • Products purchased via this offer are for the use of students and staff only.

Update: 6 April 2020: Answers to domestic tertiary students’ questions

Regardless of what is going on at the moment e.g. course timings changing or moving courses on-line, for the duration of the lockdown, you will continue to get access to all the student support available, so stay enrolled.

Over the past two weeks, we have been gathering your key questions and providing answers through regular bulletins. This bulletin provides answers to;

If your question is not answered in this bulletin, we will try to provide an answer in the coming days.

Why stay enrolled?

As tertiary education providers work to adapt their course delivery to New Zealand’s COVID-19 response, some students may consider withdrawing from study due to uncertainty around how their courses will continue, significant changes to their programme or other circumstances of hardship.

We encourage students to remain enrolled with their tertiary provider because:

  • You will continue to receive student allowance or living costs, even if your provider is currently unable to deliver your course during Alert Level Four.
  • You can continue to access student support services offered remotely such as remote counselling services and financial hardship assistance.
  • Staying enrolled is the best way for you to stay on track with your studies and complete your programme or qualification. Withdrawing from enrolment will likely extend the amount of time it takes to complete your studies, meaning you may need to take on more student loan debt if you’re borrowing for fees or living costs.
  • Withdrawing from study now may also affect your eligibility for student allowance or living costs in the future.
  • If you withdraw from study, you may not eligible for potential future support.

What if my tertiary provider cannot continue to deliver my programme? 

  • Some tertiary study may not be suitable for remote delivery via online learning, particularly courses with lots of practical components. Tertiary providers are working hard to adapt their programmes where they can.
  • We ask that students work with their providers to understand how their programmes may need to change over the coming weeks and how start and end dates of programmes may be affected.
  • If your tertiary provider has to discontinue a particular course in your programme or defer your programme, talk with your provider about alternative courses you could do which could credit towards your qualification. If your provider offers the option for you to study part-time you can keep accessing student support.

What is the process education providers must follow to make major changes to their course structure for 2020?

  • Government has asked all tertiary education providers to review their programmes so that students can progress their studies during this lockdown period and in the following months. In many cases this will mean shifting to digital delivery, or the timing of programmes, for instance.
  • The unprecedented situation caused by Covid-19 means everyone is trying to make good decisions quickly.  Stay in touch with your provider – it’s likely they’ll publish more information about the reasons and impact of decisions on your study.
  • How can we know that providers are following processes and ensuring the student voice is heard, when they are making course changes?
    • Talk to your provider about particular issues any changes presented to you.
    • Talk to your student association about how they can help with questions you have.

What to do if I am feeling low or anxious?

If you’re feeling low or anxious about yourself or others in your bubble, have a look at The Lowdown website.  The website has information to help young New Zealanders recognise and understand depression or anxiety, including:

Helpful information on anxiety and depression.

  • Guidance on other issues relevant to young people, such as bullying and family relationships.
  • Quick steps to help build healthy mental wellbeing.
  • Places to go to get help.
  • Information for anyone worried about a friend.
  • A moderated forum for young people to share stories and experiences and provide peer-to-peer support.
  • A free text service (text 5626).

Things change quickly so stay up to date by following the links below:

For answers to questions about Student Allowance and Living Cost payments refer to StudyLink’s website 

For health advice, refer to the Ministry of Health’s website

For official Government information about COVID-19 (novel coronavirus), including health advice and travel restrictions visit the All-of-Government website 

For more advice for students, visit the Ministry of Education website

Update: 26 February 2020: Extension of existing travel restrictions

COVID-19 (novel coronavirus): Extension of the existing travel restrictions to 3 March

The Prime Minister confirmed in an announcement on Monday 24 February, the extension of existing travel restrictions which will now expire 11.59pm on Tuesday 3 March.

The Prime Minister also noted that government officials are investigating the possibility of exempting tertiary students coming here from China, from the current travel restrictions. We will continue to provide further information as it becomes available.

Update 30 March 2020: Update for domestic tertiary students

We understand everything is very uncertain for you at the moment and we want to reassure you that the government and tertiary education providers are working together to respond quickly to your needs.

We are making sure we hear your concerns and will regularly update you with answers to some of your main questions, what support is available and some tips for your wellbeing during these times. If your question is not answered here today, we will provide an answer as soon as possible in the coming days.

Wellbeing is a continuum and you are likely to find yourself at various points on the continuum during this time. As well as resources on the COVID19 website, there is lots of useful information online at the Mental Health Foundation (www.mentalhealth.org.nz) and the Health Promotion Agency (www.hpa.org.nz).

What is available to support me financially right now? (Domestic students only)

  • You will continue to receive your weekly StudyLink payments if you remain enrolled – so please stay enrolled. Staying enrolled also means you will be eligible for any additional support for students in the future.
  • StudyLink’s contact centres are experiencing very high demand, so we do ask that people only call for an immediate and essential need so we can make sure those who need it most can get through.
  • If students need extra help during this time they can find information about emergency assistance on the StudyLink website here
  • Answers to questions about Student Allowance and Living Cost payments can be found on StudyLink’s website www.studylink.govt.nz

What if my academic performance is affected? (Domestic students only)

  • If any of the actions taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in New Zealand impact your ability to complete or pass your course, your provider and StudyLink will take this into account if you apply for a Student Allowance or Loan again in the future.

I am worried about rent increasing or being evicted from my flat

  • There is now a freeze on rental increases. Your landlord cannot increase your rent unless the increase came into effect before the lockdown period. 
  • Your tenancy cannot be terminated during the lock-down unless both you and your landlord agree. 

To find out more, see www.hud.govt.nz/residential-housing/covid-19-rent-freeze-and-tenancy-terminations.

Post-graduate students

  • If you received a scholarship, contact the organisation that gave you the scholarship to discuss your situation. You could ask if the scholarship can be changed to provide continuing support for your studies once you are able to start again. This might include whether the scholarship can be used over a longer period, or can be held for later use if you need to stop study for now. 
  • If you have a research deadline, contact your provider to work through the implications for your research. They may not have an answer immediately, and the answer will likely depend on your circumstances and the type of research you are doing.

Update: 15 February 2020: Extension of existing travel restrictions

The Minister of Health has extended the travel ban on people travelling from or through mainland China for a further eight day period.

The announcement today by the Minister of Health has been made based on the latest scientific and medical advice provided by relevant experts.  They have advised that the risk to public health in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands warrants an extension of the current border measures.  

The current temporary border measures will be retained for an additional eight day period expiring at 23:59 on Monday 24 Feb 2020.

The Ministry of Health has reiterated that these travel restrictions only apply to people travelling through mainland China in the last 14 days. There is no requirement for people travelling to New Zealand from places outside mainland China to have a ‘stay away’ period. 

Useful links

Update: 27 March 2020: Student repatriation

This update provides information on the repatriation of international students, including flights and domestic travel to the airport to get those flights.

  • Currently New Zealand is now at Alert Level 4 in its response to COVID-19.
  • Under Alert Level 4, no domestic flights will be permitted for students wanting to connect with flights after midnight, 27th March. Transport to the airport to get to an international flight and return home is permitted as long as you are driven by someone in your “bubble” before midnight, 27th March.
  • German students who have registered with the Embassy should not leave their accommodation “bubble” until they receive an email direct from the German Embassy with confirmation of seats and flight times. If they do not have this email they should not travel.
  • The Level 4 restrictions on travel in New Zealand are important for us all to protect the health of everyone in New Zealand and to save lives. If transport is being undertaken please respect the social distancing requirements.

Update: 2 February 2020: Announcement of travel restrictions

The Ministry of Education, TEC, and NZQA are working together and all tertiary education organisations (TEOs) have been contacted with information about the coronavirus and additional border controls.

The Prime Minister made an announcement on February 2 that includes the following information concerning all foreign nationals travelling from, or transiting through mainland China:

"The Government is placing temporary entry restrictions into New Zealand on all foreign nationals travelling from, or transiting through mainland China to assist with the containment of the novel coronavirus and to protect New Zealand and the Pacific Islands from the disease.

"This will take effect from tomorrow and will be in place for up to 14 days. This position will be reviewed every 48 hours.

"Any foreign travellers who leave or transit through mainland China after 2 February 2020 (NZ time) will be refused entry to New Zealand.

"Any foreign travellers in transit to New Zealand on 2 February 2020 will be subject to enhanced screening on arrival but, pending clearance, will be granted entry to New Zealand.

"New Zealand citizens and permanent residents returning to New Zealand will still be able to enter, as will their immediate family members, but will be required to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival back in the country.

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has also raised its travel advice to New Zealanders for all of mainland China to 'Do not travel', the highest level.”

While there are no confirmed or suspected cases in New Zealand at the moment, the Ministry of Health continues to encourage a precautionary approach and a focus on good hygiene. Please err on the side of caution and be alert, not alarmed.

See the government announcement at https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/new-zealand-restrict-travel-china-protect-against-coronavirus

Please continue to refer to the Ministry of Health website for the latest health information.

The health of students and staff is a priority. As always, anyone who is unwell should not be at work or studying at a tertiary provider. If you have any concerns, please contact Healthline at 0800 611 116 or call your GP. Healthline has translators and interpreters available 24/7 in 150 languages and they do have Mandarin and Cantonese speaking staff available.

Useful links

Update: 26 March 2020: Students (domestic and international) unable to return home

  • Under Alert Level 4, no travel will be permitted for domestic students from midnight Friday 27th March and some international students will also be affected due to lack of flights home.
  • We are aware that a few countries might look to repatriate their citizens by making special flights.
  • We are seeking urgent advice on this and will provide an update as soon as possible.
  • Students (including international students) may have to remain in residential accommodation. Providing services to these students so that they can self-isolate is an essential service.  This includes on-campus medical services, catering, pastoral care and other services.
  • Residential facilities must support remaining students to self-isolate and must strictly enforce personal distancing and hygiene requirements, in accordance with MOH guidelines.
  • You should maintain close contact with international students to ensure that they have access to suitable accommodation and are supported to deal with visa issues, travel insurance, and other essential arrangements.
  • Students with expiring visas with an expiry date of 1st April 2020 or earlier and who are unable to leave New Zealand must apply on-line for a new visa. An interim visa will be issued.
  • Students with expiring visas with an expiry date of 2 April to 9 July 2020 inclusive who are in New Zealand on 2 April 2020 will have their visas extended to 25 September 2020. Confirmation of extensions will be emailed to all visa holders.

To keep updated on travel restrictions and visa information visit the Immigration website.

International Students under 18

  • Students under 18 must remain in suitable accommodation under the supervision of appropriate caregivers who have been subject to a full safety check including Police vetting.
  • If there is a need to urgently Police vet a new homestay provider, NZ Police are able to process vetting requests urgently to ensure that Police checking requirements for ‘safe accommodation’ are met. This service should only be used for genuinely urgent applications affected by the withdrawal of homestay families due to health concerns.
  • You can submit the request via the New Zealand Police as per the usual process, entering 'HOMESTAY URGENT' into the ‘Agency Reference’ field of the online vetting request form. These police vets are likely to be processed within 1-2 working days.

If you have specific questions about pastoral care, please call NZQA’s Code team on 0800 697 296 or code.enquiries@nzqa.govt.nz

How can we help?

For providers requiring pastoral care guidance for international students, you should contact the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (on 0800 697 296 or code.enquiries@nzqa.govt.nz) for advice.

Please keep the Ministry of Education informed of any issues with international students which you may not be able to manage, particularly where students are having issues with accommodation. 

What do I do if there is a confirmed case in a tertiary setting?

  • If a person is confirmed as a case of COVID-19 in shared accommodation the provider will need to take a leading role in supporting them to access support and to communicate with the whānau to keep them informed.
  • The person who has been identified as a confirmed case should self-isolate in accordance with MOH guidelines.  Reach out to them to enquire about their situation and supply information on how to access health services. Any support should be provided remotely where possible e.g. through online channels or phone calls.
  • These are some good things to ask:
    • Where is the person staying? Are there any concerns about preventing the spread of the virus?
    • Are they in contact with whānau and other support networks? Do they have someone who can care for them?
    • Do they have access to food or groceries (either online or if someone can get them)?
    • What support do they have in place and do they know about additional support that is available to them?
    • Who else are they staying with? Are they self-isolating (as close contacts)?
    • How will they continue to stay in touch with their provider? Who is the key contact person? How frequently will that person be checking in
  • Providers should immediately contact Gillian Dudgeon at the Tertiary Education Commission Gillian.Dudgeon@tec.govt.nz  or Sandra.Ramsay@tec.govt.nz or; Eve McMahon at the New Zealand Qualifications Authority Eve.McMahon@nzqa.govt.nz (0227 509 7980) to alert her to a confirmed case. The purpose of this initial communication is,  to find out what support the provider will need and advise them where they can go for this – the Ministries of Health or Education – and to advise a future point of contact regarding the confirmed case.
  • Providers should communicate with others in the shared accommodation about what is expected from them, and should offer wellbeing support.
  • Other students staying in the accommodation may be considered close or casual contacts and asked to isolate, or given information about what to do so if they become unwell. Providers should remain in regular contact with these students to ensure that they have access to food, supplies and support for their mental health and wellbeing.
  • The Regional Medical Officer of Health will advise whether additional steps may be needed – for example extra cleaning, additional Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for essential staff. They will also advise whether it is safe for students to continue to use communal areas. 

We recommend that providers issue a statement to their community to notify other staff and students of the confirmed case.  It is important to support the wellbeing of all students, staff, and members of the wider education community at this time.

For health advice, please refer to the Ministry of Health’s website.

For Cross-agency information about COVID-19 (novel coronavirus), including health advice and travel restrictions visit the All-of-Government website 

For additional advice for tertiary providers/whare wananga visit the Ministry of Education website

Useful links 

Update: 28 February 2020: Extension of existing travel restrictions

Extension of existing travel restrictions

You will be aware that there continues to be a high degree of uncertainty around the development and spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19. Countries around the world are continually reviewing their response to the virus.

It is in this context that the Government has announced that it will not be implementing an exemption from travel restrictions for students in China who had intended to study in New Zealand.

The Government has also announced the addition of a second country to the restriction list – Iran. For further information on how this affects travellers, see the Ministry of Health’s website.

We appreciate that universities in particular have put some considerable effort into setting out a case for exempting their students from the current travel restrictions.

On balance the Government has decided that such an exemption should not be approved at this time because of the most recent increased international uncertainty.

We acknowledge your efforts to support solutions for your students who have to study outside the country, and we will continue to support you in this. We know that tertiary providers are working on a number of distance learning solutions and we can provide support.

We also know that some of your students need assistance with visa issues.

If students or parents have visa-related questions, they should check Immigration New Zealand, which provides updates on the visa situation through its website.

Collectively, these measures will support the welfare of these students and allow them to successfully enter, settle and study in New Zealand as soon as possible.

We are also aware that some students are having problems with accommodation. We will continue to advise students to raise concerns directly with their school or tertiary provider in the first instance.

If tertiary students believe their concerns have not been adequately addressed, they can contact the Tertiary Education Commission. Even if the TEC can’t resolve their issue, it can provide support and help direct concerns to the appropriate place. Students can contact the TEC by calling 0800 601 302 or emailing complaints@tec.govt.nz

We advise students, their families and whānau, and providers to keep updated on education developments through the Ministry of Education’s website.

For health advice, please refer to the Ministry of Health’s website.

We will continue to work with you to support your students as the COVID-19 situation develops. If you have concerns or are aware of problems being raised by students, we encourage you to continue to raise these with the relevant agencies.

Update: 23 March 2020: Change in COVID-19 alert level

The Prime Minister has announced that we are now at COVID-19 alert level 3, and will be moving to alert level 4 in 48 hours. Information about the four level alert system is here.

Our observation is that the sector has by and large implemented most changes required for alert level 3.  You should be directing all of your efforts to preparing for alert level 4.

The general guidelines on alert level 4 are as follows:

  • People are instructed to stay at home
  • All educational facilities are to close and provide distance learning where this can be reasonably managed by staff working from home
  • Businesses closed except for essential services (e.g. supermarkets, pharmacies, clinics) and lifeline utilities
  • Travel severely limited
  • Major reprioritisation of healthcare services

Under level 4, the following guidelines apply to all Tertiary Education Organisations:

  • Your number one priority should be the welfare of your students and staff, and ensuring that they can self-isolate in accordance with new MoH guidelines as per the PM’s announcement.
  • All education and research services requiring face to face contact should be suspended immediately. As much delivery as possible should be shifted online, so long as this can be managed by staff working at home.
  • Many students (including international students) are likely to have to remain in residential accommodation, either because this is their only available accommodation, or because they are unable to travel home. Providing services to these students so that they can self-isolate is an essential service.  This includes on-campus medical services, catering, pastoral care and other services.
  • Residential facilities must support remaining students to self-isolate and must strictly enforce personal distancing and hygiene requirements, in accordance with MOH guidelines.
  • Medical research required for combating COVID-19 is an essential service.
  • All staff not working in essential services should be sent home. This includes all senior executives.  Vulnerable staff who are providing essential services should be sent home and their roles filled by others.
  • All TEOs should comply with any instructions from authorised government officials including in relation to requisitions and rationing.
  • All TEOs should assume that they will continue to be funded at their 2020 Investment Plan and Fees Free levels until further notice.

Government education agencies are moving to remote working and will remain in operation.

Government agencies are working on a range of ways to support TEOs and students through this stage of COVID-19 and we will announce further guidance and measures as these are developed. 

In the first instance we are giving considerable thought to how we support distance delivery.  We will send out a separate bulletin with some advice on this. 

Update: 19 March 2020: Further advice on mass gatherings

Further advice on mass gatherings

The Government has announced today that there must not be mass gatherings of more than 100 people indoors. This does not apply to tertiary providers, schools, workplaces or public transport.  This exemption for tertiary providers relates to the services essential to educational delivery only (graduations as an example are not essential).

This is in addition to non-essential gatherings being cancelled if the gathering involves more than 500 people in an indoor or outdoor setting.

Tertiary providers should seek to implement the Ministry of Health’s recommendations on social distancing and hygiene (see links below) as far as possible, for both staff and students. You should give consideration to how to apply these in the context of classes, lectures, hostels and communal and social spaces. Our expectations are that you continue to use your discretion to manage the situation on the ground as best as possible.

We encourage providers to give calm, accurate and reassuring messages to your students. If they are well, students should attend class as usual. Students who are unwell should stay at home.

If you have a particular concern about a student or staff member, ask the student or staff member to call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (or +64 9 358 5453 for international callers). Healthline has translators and interpreters available 24/7 in 150 languages.

Education sector agencies are reviewing rules and guidelines on funding and quality assurance and what support you need in your continued engagement with staff and students. Agencies are working with TEOs now to provide direct information and please continue to use usual channels for any queries that you have.

Meanwhile, if you have concerns or are aware of problems being raised by students, we encourage you to continue to raise these with the relevant agencies.

Update: 17 March 2020: Advice on mass gatherings – Essential and non-essential

Advice on mass gatherings – Essential and non-essential

The Prime Minister announced on the 16th March, 2020 clear advice regarding mass gatherings. In summary, all essential gatherings such as tertiary institutions, parliament, schools, preschools, and work should continue.

Non-essential gatherings should be cancelled if the gathering involves more than 500 people in an indoor or outdoor setting.  A more detailed framework for gatherings will be released later in the week.

Examples of how this advice is relevant to tertiary institutions

  • We encourage you to develop blended and online learning options, e.g. videoing lectures.  Lectures and large classes can still go ahead, however providers should put due safeguards in place (e.g. ability to track and trace, social distancing where possible)
  • Tutorials and small classes involving smaller numbers of students could continue in person. The usual health precautions should be taken - remind students and staff that basic hygiene measures are the most important way to stop the spread of infections.
  • For those learners in workplaces, tertiary providers should contact employers to discuss guidelines and support arrangements.
  • Sports tournaments should be cancelled if they involve more than 500 competitors and/or spectators.
  • Providers could consider whether it is safe for student unions to remain fully open. It may be appropriate to suspend some services.
  • Shows and concerts with more than 500 attendees should be cancelled.
  • Other events such as open days and job fairs should be postponed.
  • Large public lectures and community events should be cancelled.
  • Some larger societies should consider postponing events or limiting attendee numbers.

Useful links 

Update: 16 March 2020: Extension of existing travel restrictions

We have more information now available about how the virus works and is transmitted, and we’re learning lessons from how other countries have managed outbreaks.

The New Zealand government is stepping up protective measures to keep individuals, families and our communities safe and healthy in the current global environment through upgraded border control measures.

From 23:59 Sunday 15 March 2020:

  • Travel restrictions remain in place for people arriving from or who have been in mainland China and Iran over the prior 14 days. (Category 1A countries)
  • In addition, all travellers coming from all parts of the world, except parts of the Pacific, will be required to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival in New Zealand. This also includes Australia and French Polynesia. (Category 1B countries)
  • All travellers coming from the following parts of the Pacific will be required to self-isolate if they show symptoms, within 14 days of arrival. This includes all Pacific Islands Forum members (except French Polynesia, category 1B), Associate Member Tokelau, and Observer Wallis and Futuna.’ (Category 2).

Review period is 16 days initially (Tues 24 March) then 14 days thereafter.

We advise students, their families and whānau, and providers to keep updated on education developments through the Ministry of Education’s website.

For health advice, please refer to the Ministry of Health’s website.

We will continue to work with you to support your students as the COVID-19 situation develops. If you have concerns or are aware of problems being raised by students, we encourage you to continue to raise these with the relevant agencies.

Useful links