New code sets clear expectations for learner safety and wellbeing in tertiary education

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A new code of practice for the pastoral care of domestic tertiary and international students will be in place from January next year, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced today.

The code, which makes clear that creating an environment that supports learning and wellbeing is a shared responsibility between tertiary providers, students, whānau and the wider community, will be in place from 1 January 2022.

“The introduction of the new code will further support the wellbeing and safety of domestic and international students,” Chris Hipkins said.

“Having positive wellbeing and care is essential for young people to get the most out of their tertiary education experience, when they’re on campus or in university halls.

“Releasing the new code is a big step towards improving student experiences. It also reflects this Government’s commitment to creating a New Zealand where all people feel safe, have equal access to opportunities and do not experience discrimination.”

The code builds on the existing Interim Code and International Code by strengthening the requirement for a whole-of-provider approach with learners at the centre. There are no changes to requirements for schools in New Zealand that host international students.

“The Education and Workforce Committee Inquiry into student accommodation underscored the need for an inclusive, and supportive tertiary sector,” Chris Hipkins said.

The new code responds to the issues raised at Committee and clearly lays out the expectations that tertiary and international education providers must meet to support the wellbeing and safety of those in student accommodation and within their wider learning environment,” Chris Hipkins said.

Officials continue to work on a new dispute resolution scheme to resolve financial and contractual disputes between domestic tertiary learners and providers which will be in place by 1 January 2022.  This scheme will sit alongside the scheme already in place for international students.

“The new code is central to creating a genuinely learner-centred education system that values our tertiary and international students, as signalled in the new Tertiary Education Strategy,” Chris Hipkins said.

Notes for editors:

About the new code

The new code of practice for the pastoral care of domestic tertiary and international learners sets out the expectations that tertiary providers must meet for learners’ safety and wellbeing.  It brings together the current codes for domestic and international learners with separate parts of the code for:

  • student accommodation
  • tertiary providers enrolling international students
  • schools enrolling international students (this part restates existing requirements for schools).

You can download the revised Code here Education (Pastoral Care of Tertiary and International Learners) Code of Practice 2021 – Education in New Zealand.

Dispute resolution scheme

A dispute resolution scheme to resolve financial and contractual disputes between domestic tertiary students and their providers will be in place by 1 January 2022. Prior to January, a scheme operator will be appointed following a selection process and confirmation of the scheme’s rules.

Code administrator

NZQA is expected to be appointed Code Administrator. Once appointed, NZQA will work with the sector to promote the Code and co-develop guidelines, so that learners and providers are clear about the expectations before the Code comes into effect on 1 January 2022.

Te oranga me te haumaru ākonga: tertiary ākonga safety and wellbeing consultation

From 7 April to 21 May 2021, the Ministry of Education consulted on drafts of the new Code, scheme rules and legislative change proposals. Over 100 written submissions and survey responses from students, whānau and associations, providers, sector peak bodies, community and health organisations and dispute resolution experts were received. Around 60 meetings and online engagements were held with a focus on learners and communities representing groups that are currently underserved by the education system. A summary of feedback from this consultation can be downloaded here Analysis of Submissions.

International students and pastoral care

International students already have a high level of pastoral care and support in place as previously set out in the Code of Practice for pastoral care of international students which includes safety, wellbeing and accommodation. International students are also supported by the International Students Wellbeing Strategy, which ensures government agencies work together to support international students to feel safe, well and welcome in New Zealand. New Zealand’s first Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students was introduced in 2002.