The Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016 (including Amendments 2019)

This information relates to pastoral care for international students. NZQA also administers an interim Code of Practice to support domestic students, and an ongoing Code of Practice for domestic students is in development.  

A new Code

Between 7 April – 21 May 2021, the Ministry of Education consulted on the Code of Pastoral Care for all international students and domestic tertiary students.

The Ministry of Education are now reviewing the feedback and submissions ahead of releasing a new Code in the coming months.

After this time, NZQA will focus on raising awareness of the new Code and building providers’ capability by delivering online and regional information sessions and workshops, and co-developing guidelines and other resources with learners and providers.

Our aim will be to support learners and providers to understand the new Code and to help providers prepare for when it comes into effect from 1 January 2022.

Pastoral care of international students over term breaks

Due to COVID-19, many international students may remain in New Zealand over term breaks, with increased pastoral care needs. Information and advice for providers can be found on the Ministry of Education’s website.

In the case of a critical incident over a term break, providers should check the international Code (PDF, 736KB) and guidelines (see below) to ensure your organisation is taking the actions needed.

The most relevant parts of the Code in an incident are typically:

  • Clause 25 (1)a - Appropriate measures to address student needs and issues: you need to ensure adequate support for the wellbeing of students. See our guidelines, Outcome 6 (PDF, 249KB) for further advice on implementing this clause.
  • Outcome 3 and related clauses - Enrolment contract: what have you agreed with students (and where relevant, their parents) to do in a critical incident? Use the international student enrolment contract as your guide. See our guidelines, Outcome 3 (PDF, 196KB) for further advice.
  • Clause 16d - Insurance: students should have appropriate insurance in place and their policy may cover some necessary support, such as mental health support, and must cover next of kin coming to NZ to support the student, and repatriation costs. Contact your student’s insurance provider as a source of guidance and support. See our guidelines, Outcome 3 (PDF, 196KB) for further advice.
  • Clause 23(1c) - Effective communication with parents and next of kin: ensure that you have a communications plan in place to easily and timely communication with parents/legal guardians. See our guidelines, Outcome 6 (PDF, 249KB) for further advice.
  • Clause 16e - Written permission from parents regarding any decisions affecting students aged under 18: for any decisions affecting students, please ensure that parents/legal guardians are informed – this includes permissions to go on school trips, changes to accommodation or in an unexpected event, such as a hospital appointment. See our guidelines, Outcomes 3 (PDF, 196KB) for further advice.
  • Clause 23 (1e) - Safe transfer of care: this applies to international students between 10 and 18 years in the care of a residential caregiver for each transfer of care during enrolment, or at the end of enrolment. See our guidelines, Outcome 6 (PDF, 249KB) (page 51) for further advice.

Please ensure to follow critical incident plans (NZQA’s template can be found here (PDF, 266KB) and if your organisation is a part of a membership organisation  they might have others). Please also refer to the emergency procedures information in our Code of Practice toolbox for checklists to follow.

If you are a part of a membership organisation, they might also have resources and plans to follow.

In the unfortunate case of an international student death, please refer to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade website and their list of Foreign Representatives to New Zealand.

Ensure that you, the staff, and the wider student community have services at hand to support you. For example, calling or texting 1737 will put you through to a trained counsellor for free, anytime day or night. 

The New Zealand Association of Counsellors website has a list of members who offer counselling in other languages. 

For the school sector, please refer to the Ministry of Education’s Emergencies and Traumatic Incidents website for additional resources. Their traumatic incident team can be contacted 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 0800 848 326.

To support this, the New Zealand government has developed the Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016, which was amended in 2019.

The 2019 amendments to the Code of Practice 2016 (PDF, 736KB) came into force on 1 July 2019.

Please refer to the Code guidelines below. The code guidelines are there to support signatories to establish practices and processes that meet the legislative outcomes of the code. They are there for you to refer to if you choose, it is not a requirement that you use them.

What is the Code of Practice?

The Code of Practice is a document that clearly outlines the full legal requirements that education providers enrolling international students must abide by.

The purpose of this code is to support the Government’s objectives for international education by:

  • requiring signatories to take all reasonable steps to protect international students; and
  • ensuring, so far as is possible, that international students have in New Zealand a positive experience that supports their educational achievement.

How do I get a copy of the 2016 Code of Practice?

Download the printable version of the Code of Practice including amendments 2019 (PDF, 736KB).

The full, legislative version is also available on the New Zealand Legislation website.

How do I get a copy of the 2016 Code of Practice guidelines?

The Code of Practice guidelines (PDF, 915KB) help signatories ensure they have appropriate practices and procedures in place to meet the outcomes of the Code of Practice. The guidelines reflect the 2019 amendments.

The guidelines are there for you to refer to if you choose. It is not a requirement that you use them.

Click on the links below for a pdf of each separate outcome:

Are there any other resources?

NZQA also offers Code 101 workshops, which provides an overview of the Code, throughout the year. Signatories will receive an invitation to sign up when dates are offered.

For more information about these resources, please email

Who needs to use the Code of Practice?

Education providers must be approved signatories to the Code of Practice to enrol international students (of any age). Education providers can become a signatory by applying to NZQA.

If an education provider is not a signatory to the Code of Practice it cannot enrol international students.

What do signatories have to do?

Each signatory needs to have policies and procedures to meet the outcomes of the Code of Practice. See the guidelines and toolbox for further support.

Each year signatories need to undertake, document and attest to self-review of their performance against the Code of Practice.

Which education providers are signatories to the Code of Practice?

You can search for education organisations that are approved signatories to the Code of Practice.

You can filter by:

  • Region
  • Type
  • Tertiary Education Organisation category
  • Signatories to the international Code of Practice
  • Any keyword, including trading name or MoE number.

Note that if an organisation has more than one delivery site, the result may be multiple entries for the same organisation. This is because different delivery sites may offer different programmes.

Further information for signatories


Frequently asked questions about the new Code of Practice

Student complaints about providers’ compliance with the Code of Practice

Brochure for international students about making a complaint (PDF, 120KB)

For other enquiries, please email

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