Public opinion sought on changes to tertiary education

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Wellington, April 18, 2021

Image from ENZ Conversation website

The Education Ministry is seeking public opinion on a number of proposed changes to the wellbeing and safety of international students and tertiary sector learners.

The changes are proposed to be introduced in January 2022 and your response and views are required by May 21, 2021.

The Ministry has launched this consultation on behalf of the Minister.

Education Ministry Deputy Secretary Andy Jackson said that according to research, learners perform better and succeed if education provides consider their wellbeing and safety.

“Our Tertiary Education Strategy (TES) asks that all tertiary institutions operate places of learning that are safe, inclusive and free from racism, discrimination and bullying. We are inviting people to help shape positive environments for all our tertiary learners,” he said.

The Consultation process, which began on April 7, 2021, will conclude on May 21, 2021 with opportunities for students, communities and tertiary education professionals to share their views in-person and online.

Responding to changing times

Mr Jackson said that the proposed code will replace the existing ones.

“The education system in New Zealand is changing. Learners, families, communities and honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi are being put at the centre. The proposed changes to domestic and international tertiary learners respond to these shifts. There is a need for an accessible, culturally responsive, effective, and equitable system of supports for learner wellbeing and safety. The proposals under consultation will build on what is already working well, address existing gaps and make improvements to better meet the needs of students,” he said.

Education Ministry Deputy Secretary Andy Jackson

Shared responsibility

He said that the wellbeing and safety of tertiary and international learners is a shared responsibility between government, tertiary education providers, learners and the wider community. The proposed code will set clear and consistent expectations of tertiary and international education providers and how they partner with learners to provide services for their wellbeing and safety.

“A proposed dispute resolution scheme for domestic tertiary learners and providers to settle contractual or financial disputes that are unable to be resolved using provider or sector complaints processes is being developed in parallel with the new Code,” Mr Jackson said.

Further information can be obtained from this website.

About the proposed changes

A new code of pastoral care for all tertiary and international students will be developed this year for implementation from January 1, 2022.

Simplifying the current situation, the proposed code will apply to all domestic and international students in tertiary education, regardless of whether they are full-time, part-time, in apprenticeships or employment, learning on-campus or on-line.

There are no substantial changes proposed to the requirements for schools enrolling international students.

Disputes can have big educational, financial and emotional impacts on learners and their families and communities.

A stronger dispute resolution scheme will help resolve issues and make the tertiary education system fairer and more accessible for everyone.

Supporting the proposed changes are a set of proposed law changes that will make sure the new code and dispute resolution scheme are supported by legislation and fit for purpose. They will make sure the code and dispute resolution scheme consistently focus on learner wellbeing and safety and make it easier for providers to implement the code.

About the consultation

Everyone’s views are invited, especially students, families, communities and those working or volunteering in the tertiary and international education sector.

Feedback is sought on the proposed code for the wellbeing and safety of all tertiary and international learners, a new dispute resolution scheme for domestic tertiary learners, and proposed legislative changes to clarify and streamline providers’ responsibilities to learners.

The Education and Training Act 2020 requires the Minister to consult before issuing a Code and dispute resolution scheme.

Interim code changes

On Wednesday, March 31, 2021, the Minister issued minor and technical changes to the Interim Code. These include updating the expiry date of the interim code and references to the Education and Training Act 2020 and being clearer about what the Code Administrator must do if it uses powers to enter student accommodation (Clause 33).

Tertiary providers do not need to do anything differently, and NZQA will ensure that it meets the new requirements. You can view the updated code here. These changes follow from Parliamentary review of the interim code by the Regulations Review Committee.

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