Implementation guidance for the Education (Pastoral Care of Domestic Tertiary Students) Interim Code of Practice 2019

The Implementation Guidance for the Education (Pastoral Care of Domestic Tertiary Students) Interim Code of Practice 2019 (guidance) is intended to help tertiary education providers put the interim Code into practice and achieve its outcomes.

It is an optional tool to assist providers in understanding the requirements of the 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 Code, taking a holistic, non-prescriptive and continuous improvement approach
  • suggests key factors to keep in mind when implementing the Code, and describes NZQA’s role as the Code administrator which includes monitoring compliance and investigating complaints and referrals
  • gives information on the development of an ongoing code
  • provides detailed guidance for understanding and applying each outcome and each process within the outcome.

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

Download the pdf version (PDF, 834KB).

Outcomes of the interim code

See the pages below for details of the outcomes:

Outcomes 1 to 6

Outcomes 7 to 10: Pastoral care in tertiary student accommodation

Minister’s foreword

Whakamaua te pae tata kia tina – take hold of your potential so it becomes your reality.

We are descendants of explorers, discoverers and innovators who used their knowledge to traverse distant horizons.

Our learning will be inclusive, equitable and connected so we progress and achieve advances for our people and their future journeys and encounters.

Whaia te pae tawhiti kia tata – Explore beyond the distant horizons and draw it near.

The government’s vision for the future of the education system is to put learners back at the heart of the system.

For this to occur we need a system where the educational, wellbeing and wider needs of students are attended to and where student voice informs the operations and practices of providers.

We have decided to put in place the Education (Pastoral Care of Domestic Tertiary Students) Interim Code of Practice 2019 (interim Code), which makes clear to providers the role and responsibilities they have in promoting and supporting the wellbeing and development of their learners.

The interim Code provides a touchstone for students and their family and whānau about what they can expect from providers, and a means for them to seek resolution when they feel their expectations are not being met.

This guidance will support providers to apply effective pastoral care practices for their learners.

Hon Chris Hipkins
Minister of Education

About the interim Code

The Education (Pastoral Care of Domestic Tertiary Students) Interim Code of Practice 2019 (interim Code) was developed in late 2019 and came into effect on 1 January 2020. It will be replaced when an ongoing code is developed.

What is the interim Code?

The interim Code sets out a general duty of pastoral care that all tertiary education providers must have for domestic tertiary students, and specific requirements for providers that offer student accommodation.

It sets out the outcomes providers need to achieve and the processes they need to follow to implement the interim Code. Providers’ performance will be monitored and evaluated against the interim Code.

Why is the interim Code needed?

The interim Code reflects feedback from recent consultation with students, their family and whānau, and others in the sector, which called for enhanced support for:

  • wellbeing and mental health, particularly for students at risk
  • the provision of safe and inclusive learning environments.

It was developed as part of a wider shift in the education sector to put students at the centre and in recognition of the need for improved systems and processes to ensure students receive the best possible pastoral care.

Aims of the interim Code

The interim Code aims to address regulatory gaps relating to the pastoral care of domestic tertiary students to ensure:

  • that students live in a safe environment and have a positive experience that supports their educational achievement and personal development
  • that providers are accountable for ensuring the pastoral care needs of their students are met.

A key underlying aim is to ensure providers focus particularly on the needs of first year students, and students with specific needs, to enable them to successfully transition to tertiary studies.

In giving effect to the interim Code, providers are expected to:

  • integrate the interim Code into the whole student experience
  • proactively engage with students, staff and the community to capture their voices and feedback
  • integrate the interim Code into their policies, procedures and practices, including processes for connecting students to specialist health and wellbeing services in the community
  • apply learnings and feedback to continuously improve their practices.

Principles for implementing the interim Code

These principles are inherent to the interim Code and were developed with providers and student leaders. They are intended as a quick reference for providers, students and their family and whānau.

The principles promote a holistic, non-prescriptive and continuous improvement approach to implementing the interim Code.

They acknowledge the diversity of students, providers and their contexts, and that there cannot be a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

1. Engaged

Providers will take a student-centred approach to designing and implementing policies and procedures relevant to the interim Code, by authentically engaging and forming strategic partnerships with:

  • students, their representatives and their diverse communities
  • Māori, particularly giving effect to Te Tiriti/The Treaty of Waitangi
  • all staff within their organisation
  • wider community and support services.

2. Proactive

Providers will create an environment that proactively supports wellbeing and effectively connects students to relevant communities and the wider network of support, including specialist health and wellbeing services.

3. Flexible

Providers will deliver learning experiences and information, advice and services to support students’ development in flexible ways that:

  • meet students’ diverse needs
  • respect and support students’ autonomy
  • deliver outcomes aligned to the context in which the provider and their students operate
  • can be continuously improved.

4. Transparent

Providers will respect and support students’ mana and dignity by having transparent processes to obtain and share relevant information internally, so that individual students and their communities are kept safe.

Implementing the interim Code

Working with an outcomes-focused Code

Tertiary education in New Zealand is made up of a diverse student population studying in a range of places and styles. There is also a range of providers, some with only a handful of students to others with tens of thousands.

Consequently, there cannot be a ‘one size fits all’ approach to pastoral care. 'Good practice' may look different in each tertiary education provider from year to year, depending on the types of education being provided and the student profile.

By focusing on outcomes rather than prescribing exactly how pastoral care should be delivered, the interim Code enables providers to tailor their practices to meet the needs of their students in their context.

Te Tiriti and the interim Code

The interim Code requires providers to honour and effectively implement Te Tiriti/The Treaty of Waitangi. When implementing the interim Code, providers should consider how they can partner with Māori to achieve the outcomes set out in the interim Code.

Tertiary education providers could consider how these principles give effect to the outcomes of the interim Code for Māori students.

Kaupapa may include:

  • Rangatiratanga
  • Whanaungatanga
  • Manaakitanga
  • Pūkengatanga
  • Kaitiakitanga and
  • Te Reo Māori.

Consideration could also be given to ākonga Māori achieving educational success through Mātauranga Māori as relevant to their worldview, context and practices.

Understanding the terms ‘reasonable’ and ‘appropriate’

The use of the terms ‘reasonable’ and ‘appropriate’ throughout the interim Code acknowledges that the approach to pastoral care for each student may be different, depending on their age, ability and individual circumstances. Providers need to tailor their approach accordingly to meet the outcomes of the interim Code.

The principles set out in this guidance: engaged, proactive, flexible and transparent, are intended to guide providers’ decisions about what is ‘reasonable’ and ‘appropriate’ for their students, organisation and context.

Protecting students’ privacy

When implementing the interim Code, providers have a responsibility to protect students’ privacy and a legal obligation to comply with the Privacy Act. Key privacy considerations for providers include:

  • ensuring that when they obtain and share a student’s personal information, they have a clear and lawful purpose
  • ensuring they have transparent processes for obtaining and sharing a student’s personal information
  • ensuring that students have agreed to the collection of their personal information and know how it will be used
  • balancing a student’s right to privacy with engaging proactively to offer support or connect them to services when needed.

Administering the interim Code

NZQA as the interim Code administrator

As administrator of the interim Code, the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) is responsible for quality assuring tertiary education providers in relation to the interim Code.

NZQA’s role includes:

  • responding to questions about the interim Code
  • providing guidance and resources for implementing the interim Code
  • identifying needs through regular sector engagement
  • monitoring compliance with the interim Code
  • receiving and investigating complaints and referrals about possible interim Code breaches
  • taking appropriate action to address proven breaches.

For the administration of the interim Code as it relates to universities, NZQA will delegate some functions, duties and powers to Universities New Zealand.

Monitoring compliance

Providers who have domestic tertiary students are required to complete a self-review to identify how well their policies and procedures deliver the outcomes required in the Code. The self-review will:

  • look at how the provider listens to and responds to their students’ views on improving the quality of the learning environment and the support given to diverse groups of students
  • cover all outcomes, with an emphasis on compliance with outcomes 7 to 10 for providers who offer student accommodation
  • identify gaps and areas for improvement, and present a plan for how these will be addressed.

Further information on the self-review process and timelines will be communicated by NZQA and Universities New Zealand.

If NZQA becomes aware of a possible breach of the Code, whether through the self-review or any other means, it will investigate as described below.

Investigating complaints and referral

The Code administrator has the responsibility to investigate complaints or referrals concerning possible breaches of the interim Code

In the first instance, a student, or their representative, should raise concerns about possible breaches of the interim Code directly with their provider. If the student (or their representative) and the provider are unable to resolve the student’s concerns, the concerns can be escalated using NZQA’s complaints procedure.

NZQA may also be made aware of possible breaches of the interim Code through other means, such as the media, referrals from other agencies or the provider, and self-reviews.

When NZQA receives a complaint or referral concerning a possible breach, the process it follows is:

  • NZQA completes an initial assessment to determine whether the concerns fall within its jurisdiction and evaluates the credibility of the allegations. It then decides whether there are enough grounds for further investigation.
  • If NZQA proceeds with an investigation, it does so according to the principles of natural justice to ensure the prompt, considered and fair resolution of the complaint. The provider is given the opportunity to respond to the concerns that have been raised.
  • In some cases, a site visit may be necessary to view or gather evidence for the investigation.
  • If a breach of the interim Code is proven, NZQA takes appropriate action. The level of formality of this action is proportionate to the seriousness of the breach.

Further information or advice

Contact NZQA at or on 0800 697 296.

As the interim Code is implemented during 2020, NZQA will:

  • gather queries and answers to produce regularly updated FAQs, which will be available on the NZQA website
  • provide more detailed or targeted information based on queries and feedback from the sector
  • update this guidance as required.

The future of the Code

A long-term ongoing Code will replace the interim Code. It will be developed through working closely with the tertiary education sector and drawing on learnings and feedback from the implementation of the interim Code. This work will also consider how the Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016 will fit with the ongoing Code.

A continuous improvement approach will be taken to implementing the interim Code and developing and implementing the ongoing Code.

Updates on the development of the ongoing Code will be available on the Ministry of Education and NZQA websites.

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