Student fee protection

Student fee protection (SFP) protects the interests of domestic and international students studying at a registered private training establishment (PTE), especially if the PTE stops offering a programme or training scheme that students have enrolled in.

To maintain registration, PTEs must comply with the Student Fee Protection Rules 2013 (the ‘SFP Rules’).

The SFP Rules apply to fees for all programmes and training schemes a registered PTE offers, not just NZQA-approved programmes or training schemes. The SFP Rules require all registered PTEs to have an approved SFP mechanism in place before accepting any fees from students.

What does student fee protection cover?

Student fees paid to a PTE include:

  • tuition fees (including all related costs)
  • commissions
  • accommodation
  • travel and health insurance
  • living expenses.

Make sure you include GST

All amounts invoiced, paid, and/or receipted for student fees should include GST.

The amount you deposit and protect in trust should include GST, and GST should be included in the pro-rata drawdowns made by the trustee.

What information do I give students about student fee protection?

At a minimum, advise your students of:

  • the amount of fees protected
  • the type of fee protection mechanism you have in place and details of the trustee (if applicable)
  • a schedule of payments from the trustee to you (if applicable)
  • the withdrawal and refund policies
  • the process for refunds to be made if the student is entitled to one
  • people or organisations to contact if they have questions about their fees, or your student fee protection mechanism.

Withdrawal and refund policies need to cover:

  • student withdrawal before, during and after the relevant refund period
  • what happens if you voluntarily cease the programme or training scheme(s)
  • what happens if you voluntarily close
  • a programme or training scheme closure event
  • international students whose visa applications are declined.

Exemption from student fee protection arrangements

The Student Funds Trust Deposit Exemption Rules 2016 exempt some programmes and training schemes from the requirement to deposit student fees with an independent trustee.

The total fee charged to the student for the programme or training scheme must be $500 or less (including GST) for it to be exempt.

Ongoing requirements for student fee protection

All PTEs (through the PTE Annual Return Statutory Declaration) are required to attest to their ongoing compliance with the student fee protection requirements.

You should regularly check your student fee protection arrangements to confirm you have appropriate arrangements for any programmes or training schemes that are not exempt.

The scope of the annual student fee protection audit should include a review of how your PTE uses the exemptions criteria.

Telling us you are exempt

If you meet the exemption criteria, notify us of your status by completing the SFP Exemption Notification form (DOCX, 99KB).

The form must be signed by the Chief Executive or chair of the governing body of your PTE.

If your situation changes, and your programmes and/or training schemes are no longer exempt you need to let us know as soon as possible and ensure an approved student fee protection arrangement is in place.

Options for student fee protection

The Student Fee Protection Rules name several student fee protection mechanisms you can use.

These include:

  • trust accounts (standard or static)
  • bank bonds (with a withdrawal trust for the refund period)
  • insurance (student-based insurance)
  • deferred payment
  • company or parent body guarantees.

See Appendix B of the Student Fee Protection Rules for more details.

You can use the option most suitable for your circumstances, if we approve it beforehand.

You can also use more than one option if it covers all student fees and we are satisfied with the coverage.

If you need to establish or change a student fee protection mechanism, please complete the Approval for SFP Mechanism form (DOCX, 98KB) and submit it to us.

Trust deeds

Standard trust deed

With a standard trust, student fees are deposited into the trust account and drawn down by the PTE in arrears (weekly, fortnightly or monthly).

Public Trust has its own NZQA-approved deed.

Other trustees must use the following deed: Standard Trust Deed for Chartered Accountant and Solicitor Trustees (PDF, 279KB).

Static trust deed

A static trust is where you hold in trust an amount equal to the maximum liability you would have if all your programmes and/or training schemes closed.

As a lump sum is held in the trust, the static trust does not rely on student fees being paid into the trust account.

See Appendix B, mechanism 1, of the Student Fee Protection Rules.

Public Trust has its own NZQA-approved deed.

Other trustees must use the following deed: Static Trust Deed (PDF, 255KB).

Bank bond trust deed

A bank bond is where you arrange for a bank to cover the maximum liability you would have if all your programmes and/or training schemes closed.

If you use a bank bond mechanism, you must also use a standard or static trust mechanism to cover your students’ refund period.

See Appendix B, mechanism 3 of the Student Fee Protection Rules.

Public Trust has its own NZQA-approved deed.

Other trustees must use the following deed: Bank Bond Trust Deed (PDF, 266KB).

Contacts for student fee protection suppliers

Below is a list of contacts for suppliers of student fee protection arrangements.

We are not responsible for their products. You need to seek approval before establishing a trust arrangement with any of these suppliers. We can withdraw approval if the product no longer meets the requirements of the Student Fee Protection Rules.

Student fee protection supplier contacts

Public Trust

(Trusts – Static and Standard, Bonds)

0800 494 733

www.feeprotect.co.nz

Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand

(through its members, Trusts)

www.charteredaccountantsanz.com

New Zealand Law Society

(through its members, Trusts 

www.lawsociety.org.nz

Student fee protection for international students

The Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016

NZQA's SFP Rules and the Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016 (“the Code”) both require protection of student fees. The SFP Rules relate to PTEs, whereas the Code relates to all providers delivering to international students. Therefore, schools, the New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology, wānanga and universities, as well as PTEs that enrol international students, are required to protect international student fees.

The requirements in the SFP rules are more specific than in the Code. PTEs with an approved student fee protection mechanism will have met the requirements of the Code.

Agents' fees

Fee protection includes agents' fees. The amount of fees that needs to be put in trust is generally the amount you have receipted and advised to Immigration New Zealand.

This amount will be the greater of:

  • the amount the student has paid you
  • the amount the student paid to an agent (if the student paid you through an agent), or
  • the recommended retail price for the programme or training scheme.

The recommended retail price may be more than the amount the agent pays you. In that case, you must top up the amount you deposit into the trust account to ensure the recommended amount is in trust. You can use a supplementary, second trust arrangement to do this.

You must tell the student the amount you are holding in trust for them.

Homestay/accommodation fees

You must also protect homestay fees using either a standard trust or a static trust. You cannot use a bank bond.

You can draw down fees to pay the homestay/accommodation provider up to one month in advance, with the student’s consent.
Where the student chooses not to remain in the accommodation, you can refund the fee directly to the student if they are over 18 years of age.

If you are using an accommodation company that your PTE owns or controls, you must protect those fees too.

Living expenses

If students pay you money for their living expenses, you must protect this money. You must use either a standard trust or a static trust. You cannot use a bank bond.

Living expenses can be released in full directly to the student or you can draw them down on behalf of the student in equal instalments depending on what the student requests.

All living expenses you receive from the trustee must be paid immediately to the student.

Quarterly attestation of student fee protection

If you use a static trust or bank bond, you need to provide your trustee with information every quarter (the three-month period ending on the last days of February, May, August and November) about the student fees that need to be covered by your student fee protection arrangement.

You must provide your trustee with this information within five business days following the end of the quarter.

Your trustee must then provide an attestation to NZQA within ten business days following the end of the quarter.

PTEs that use a standard trust do not need to submit a quarterly attestation.

What needs to be in the attestation?

The attestation should include the following information:

  • The maximum liability amount required to be held
  • The amount held by the trustee
  • Confirmation of any drawdown requested (if applicable)
  • Confirmation of any top up required, and confirmation it has been received (if applicable)

Use the attestation certificates below:

When is the attestation due?

Reporting quarter ending Quarterly attestation due to NZQA
28. 02. yy + 10 business days
31. 05. yy + 10 business days
31. 08. yy + 10 business days
30. 11. yy + 10 business days

Audit of student fee protection arrangements

Private training establishments (PTEs) using a standard, static or bank bond trust mechanism are required to submit an annual audit opinion to us.

Requirements for the audit

The audit must be completed by a chartered accountant holding a practising certificate who is independent of both the PTE and the trustee.

The auditor cannot provide you with any other services, apart from audit of your financial statements.

The audit must be completed within five months of your financial year-end. It needs to cover your compliance and your trustee’s compliance with the Education and Training Act 2020, Student Fee Protection Rules 2013 and the relevant Trust Deed.

If you need an extension, please ask us before the due date.

What if the trustee is Public Trust?

As a Crown entity, Public Trust is audited by external auditors.

If you use Public Trust as a trustee, your audit does not need to cover Public Trust's compliance.

Examples of the required documentation

For examples of these documents see the SAE 3100 (Revised) standards, available on the External Reporting Board website.

  • Auditor engagement letter - see Appendix 5, Example 3: Engagement Letter for a Direct Engagement for Reasonable Assurance on ABC’s compliance with the [compliance requirements] as evaluated against the [suitable criteria].
  • Audit opinion - see Appendix 6, Example 2: Reasonable Assurance Report on ABC’s compliance with the [compliance requirements] as evaluated against the [suitable criteria] (Direct engagement).

Questions the auditor should consider

Are all student fees deposited directly into the trust account, or if deposited with the PTE, are they transferred to the trust account by close of business the next day?

Are ALL fees protected in the trust account, including tuition and material fees, registration fees, and/or administration fees? These fees should be included in the regular drawdowns, not taken separately at the beginning of the programme or training scheme.

Are the drawdowns paid out as follows?

  • 20 per cent of the tuition fees, to a maximum of $3,000, after the expiry of the refund period.
  • The balance paid out in arrears, unless the programme or training scheme is ‘conditions-dependent’, in which case the fees should be drawn down as tuition is delivered.
  • A lesser drawdown arrangement is also permissible, but a greater drawdown arrangement is not allowable under the Education Act.

Does the PTE top up the trust account for agents' commissions and/or incentives which are deducted from the student fees before they are paid over by the agent?

Does the length of time covered in the trust account include any holiday time the student takes during the programme or training scheme, including but not limited to, any Christmas holiday leave?

Does the PTE obtain signed schedules from the student, acknowledging who the trustee is, and the payment details to the PTE from the trust account? (Examples are included as schedules 3 and 5 of the Trust Deeds). If the student is under 18 years, are the schedules co-signed by a parent or legal guardian? Does the PTE only draw down fees as per the payment schedules?

Does the PTE have clear withdrawal and refund procedures? Are they available for the student to obtain, and does the PTE follow them? Does the PTE’s refund policy comply with the Trust Deed and Education Act?

Does the trustee refund directly to the student, or is the refund paid to the PTE to transfer to the student? If the latter, is all the refund passed on to the student?

Does the PTE complete all required student fee protection obligations on time? The PTE cannot be student fee protection-compliant if it is not completing quarterly attestations to its trustee where applicable.

Do accommodation and living expenses go to the student immediately after the PTE receives the money? Accommodation and living expenses should also be protected in the trust account. Accommodation can be paid up to one month in advance if agreed in writing with the student, and living expenses can be paid as agreed in writing with the student.

Further information

If you have any questions or would like to discuss requirements for student fee protection, please email the Risk Management team or phone 0800 697 296.

 
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