Updated Pastoral Care Code to help protect international students

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Steven Joyce

New regulations including an updated stricter Code of Pastoral Care come into force tomorrow to help ensure international students studying in New Zealand get the care and support they need for a successful study experience.

New Zealand’s Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016 replaces the existing Code and has a sharper focus on outcomes.

“The new Code of Practice will further strengthen providers’ responsibilities for the recruitment of international students, and the care of them while they are in the country,” says Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce says.

“New Zealand’s first Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students was world leading when it was introduced back in 2002.  This new Code was made possible through the Education Amendment Bill 2015 which completed its passage through parliament last year.”

The new Code requires that international students are provided with accurate and reliable information to make informed choices about coming to study and live in New Zealand, before they arrive. It also provides that international students are fully informed about the advice and services available to them when they are here.

“The new Code of Practice enables the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA), as the Code Administrator, to require education providers to rectify breaches and to take poor performing providers out of the international student market much more swiftly."

The new Code also empowers NZQA to more effectively monitor the performance of education providers in collaboration with other education quality assurance agencies, and tighten the entrance of providers into the market by scrutinising applications to become Code signatories against a set of strengthened criteria.

NZQA has developed guidelines in consultation with the sector to help education providers understand and implement the new Code of Practice.

“Importantly, education providers are required under the new Code to monitor and ensure the quality of agents they use to recruit students, including checking references and ensuring agents have complete and reliable information about study opportunities in New Zealand,” says Mr Joyce.

Providers must also sign contracts with their agents and these contracts must provide grounds for terminating the services of the agents who do not comply with New Zealand law and regulations (including the Code of Practice).

A new dispute resolution scheme that provides a faster and more effective forum for resolving contract and financial disagreements between students and providers also comes into force today. FairWay Resolution Limited - a Crown company specialising in disputes resolution - has been appointed as the operator of the scheme.

“Both the Code and the new disputes resolution scheme will ensure New Zealand remain a world leader in the care of international students.”

The number of international students choosing to study in New Zealand continues to grow with more than 120,000 international students choosing to study here in 2015.

In addition to the regulatory reform, the New Zealand Government is also exploring ways to work more closely with communities and non-government bodies to continue to improve services and support for international students in New Zealand.

“New Zealand has an excellent reputation for offering a high-quality learning experience, great lifestyle opportunities and qualifications that provide skills for the future.  International students become lifelong ambassadors for New Zealand when they return home.  It’s very important that the regulation of the sector continues to evolve and strengthen as the sector grows.”

More information can be found here: http://www.education.govt.nz/ministry-of-education/legislation/regulations-to-support-international-students/