Provider responsibilities for international students

This outcome covers the systems you have to manage the offer, enrolment and contract for each international student.

The intent

The intent of this outcome is to ensure you have good systems and documentation set up to manage the offer, enrolment and contract for each new student, and ensure that students and their families are clear on their obligations and responsibilities.

Resources and examples

Any and all material supplied in this toolbox is or will be supplied as an EXAMPLE ONLY and will not necessarily be appropriate for a signatory's particular circumstances.

All documents used should be approved by a signatory's governing board and independent legal advice should also be sought.

Provider responsibilities for international students

There are a wide variety of scenarios for which schools and tertiary education organisations (TEOs) may host international student visitors and/or enrol international students. For example, as an individual or as part of a group, short-stay or long-term, with an agent, with or without parents, initiated by the provider or by an agent, from a ‘sister school’, or combining tourist activity with study (before, during or after).

Guidance for signatories

The provider responsibilities for international students page provides specific guidance on how a school or tertiary education organisation (TEO) can determine the extent of their responsibility to an international student, or group of international students.

International student insurance

International students and their education providers may have obligations regarding insurance.

For international students, these obligations are set out in Immigration New Zealand’s (INZ) immigration instructions (statements of government policy which set out the rules and criteria that people who want to come to New Zealand must meet to be granted a visa or entry permission).

Education providers who wish to enrol international students must be signatories to the Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016 (the Code of Practice) and the obligations for education providers regarding insurance are set out in the Code of Practice.

This note provides specific guidance on obligations for both international students and education providers and how those obligations intersect with each other.

Read this note in conjunction with:

What do international students need to do?

International students’ insurance obligations depend on the type of visa the student holds while enrolled with an education provider.

  • For student visa holders, holding appropriate insurance is a condition of their visa. Student visa applicants must declare that they will make the necessary arrangements to hold insurance which complies with the Code of Practice and that is considered acceptable by their education provider, from the period of their enrolment until the expiry of their student visa.
  • The Student Visa Guide (INZ 1013) explains that INZ recognises that students often arrange insurance through their education provider once they have arrived in New Zealand and the enrolment process has been completed. Therefore, a student is required to hold insurance from the date the enrolment process is finalised with an education provider.
  • For work visa holders, INZ normally does not require insurance unless they apply under a specific work visa category for which this is a requirement.
  • Some work visa holders will be eligible for publicly-funded health services. This covers the Code of Practice requirement for medical care in New Zealand but not the other three aspects that the Code of Practice states must be covered (travel, repatriation, death). See the Ministry of Health’s eligibility guidance or contact INZ for more information.
  • For visitor visa holders, INZ has no insurance requirements.

What do providers need to do?

Minimum specified requirements

Education providers have obligations regarding international student insurance under Clause 16 (5) of the Code of Practice.

Under the Code of Practice, an education provider (signatory) must ensure “as far as practicable” that international students, including students travelling in a group, have “appropriate insurance” while enrolled with a signatory for educational instruction of two weeks’ duration or longer. Clause 16 (5) sets out the minimum requirements of this insurance.

During the period of enrolment (as defined in the international student contract) this obligation remains the same for all signatories, regardless of the type of visa held by the international student.

For international students studying with a signatory for less than two weeks’ duration, there is no obligation on the signatory to ensure any insurance coverage.

Recommendations for good practice

The Code does not specify processes that signatories must follow to comply with Clause 16 (5). Each signatory needs to confirm its own processes.

NZQA’s expectation is that “ensuring as far as practicable” will include processes for:

  • checking that a student has cover for the minimum Clause 16 (5) requirements; and
  • clearly asking a student (or their parents/legal guardians if the student is under 18) whether they have any pre-existing conditions (to make sure that the insurance offered is “appropriate”. This question may also be asked by the insurance company); and
  • if a pre-existing condition is disclosed by a student/parent, considering whether an additional premium can and should be paid to have the pre-existing condition covered and if so, determining whether the student (or parents/legal guardians if the student is under 18) should be required to pay this premium as part of their insurance (making sure the insurance is “appropriate” to the student’s needs); and
  • advising all students (or parents/legal guardians of students under 18) of the limitations of their insurance policy (there are some things insurance policies do not cover, regardless of whether there is a pre-existing condition); and
  • making all students (or parents/legal guardians of students under 18) aware that they will be responsible for any costs not covered by insurance.

It is at a signatory’s discretion to enrol an international student who has an exclusion on their medical insurance for a pre-existing condition.

However, if a signatory chooses to enrol an international student who has an exclusion on their medical insurance for a pre-existing condition, the Signatory must:

  • ensure that the student’s programme is appropriate for the student (Clause 16 (2) of the Code of Practice); and
  • have obtained written agreement from the parent or legal guardian of a student about any decisions made that affect an international student under 18 years (Clause 16 (6) and 25 (1) (b) of the Code); and
  • still meet the standard requirements of the Code as for any international student, including taking “all reasonable steps” to protect the student’s safety and wellbeing (Clause 5 (a) of the Code).

In this instance, NZQA’s expectation is that “reasonable steps” will include:

  • assessing any risk to be confident that there are appropriate measures in place to ensure that the student will be well-supported in their study, have access to any additional support required as per Clause 25 of the Code (“international students at risk or with special needs”), and that the condition will not unduly impede the student’s study; and
  • making it clear to the student (and their parents or legal guardians if they are under 18) that they must cover any costs arising from the excluded condition.

Such assessment by a signatory should form part of the offer of place process and should be clearly communicated to students.

If student travel to, from, or within New Zealand occurs outside the enrolment period (as defined in the student contract), signatories must ensure “as far as practicable” that the travel is covered by Code of Practice appropriate insurance.

The intent of this clause of the Code of Practice is to ensure that international students have Code of Practice appropriate insurance coverage from the day they leave their home country to the day they depart New Zealand to return home. This is to effectively manage risk to the safety and wellbeing of an international student embarking on study in New Zealand. When the opportunity arises, the current wording of the Code at Clause 16 (5) will be clarified and aligned with any related immigration instructions to better reflect the intent of the Code.

This intent is reflected in INZ’s requirements for student visa holders (see above).

For international students studying with a signatory for two weeks or longer, who are student visa holders (or holders of other visa types whose primary reason for visiting New Zealand is study), it is expected that it will be “practicable”, in most instances, for Signatories to ensure that these students have Code of Practice appropriate insurance for travel to, from, and within New Zealand, even if the travel occurs outside the enrolment period.

In an instance where it is not “practicable”, a signatory should document the steps they have taken to ensure “appropriate insurance” and at which point it was no longer practicable to do so and why.

For non-student visa holders, i.e. students who are holders of visitor, work, working holiday or other types of visas, and for whom study is not the primary purpose of visiting New Zealand, it is unlikely to be “practicable”, in most instances, for a signatory to ensure appropriate insurance for travel to, from, and within New Zealand outside of the enrolment period. Again, this aligns with INZ’s requirements for holders of these visa types (see above).

For international students studying with a signatory for less than two weeks’ duration, there is no obligation on the provider to ensure Code of Practice appropriate insurance.

Example scenarios

The following scenarios demonstrate how the above guidance should be applied.

1. [no tuition fees received; enrolled less than two weeks; TEO; tourism after enrolment]

A group of students aged 16-18 visit a Code signatory tertiary provider for ten days to experience student life, including 8 days of educational instruction and a weekend in a homestay organised by the provider. The provider receives payment for the homestay but not for any tuition services. The students are visitor-visa holders but the primary purpose of their visit is study. The students are high-school students coming on a recruitment visit to decide whether they wish to enrol in tertiary studies at this provider. After the time with the provider, the students undertake some tourist activities in Queenstown, including bungee-jumping.

  • The students are enrolled for less than two weeks and the TEO is not receiving payment for any tuition services, so these students do not have to be considered as or enrolled as international students.
  • The Code of Practice does not apply and the TEO does not have any insurance obligations under the Code of Practice.
  • The TEO may, however, have their own policies for insurance, accommodation, and expectations of behaviour for short-term students. If so, these should be communicated to the relevant parties, such as agents, students and their families, as soon as possible.

2. [long-term individual student; TEO; significant travel in Australia and New Zealand before enrolling with the signatory provider]

A 19-year-old Indonesian international student intending to study a one-year programme at a Code signatory tertiary provider commencing in March pays his tuition fees in full and is issued a New Zealand student visa in October of the preceding year. The international student departs Indonesia for Australia in early November, and backpacks around Australia until mid-December. He then arrives in New Zealand for two months’ travel. He settles into accommodation arranged by the tertiary provider a couple of weeks before international enrolment in late February. His international student contract states that the provider is responsible for his pastoral care from international enrolment until the end of his programme (defined as the last scheduled class, assignment deadline or exam, whichever is the later).

  • The international student has paid full tuition fees and will be studying with the provider for more than two weeks, so must be enrolled as an international student.
  • The provider has an arrangement with its preferred insurance company for international students to receive a ‘backdated’ insurance policy upon enrolment. This policy covers their travel to and within New Zealand for a period of four weeks prior to formal enrolment.
  • In this instance, it is “not practicable” for the provider to ensure Code of Practice appropriate insurance for the international student’s travel to New Zealand and for some of the travel within New Zealand, as he travelled to New Zealand more than four weeks before the international enrolment day.
  • The provider can, however, ensure Code of Practice appropriate insurance for the international student for any travel in the four weeks prior to his enrolment in late February.
  • The provider must ensure that the international student has appropriate insurance until his last day of enrolment as defined in the enrolment contract, and for travel within and from New Zealand (even if this is after the last day of enrolment).
  • The international student has an obligation under his student visa conditions to ensure that he has insurance for the duration of his student visa.

3. [short-stay international student; work visa, working holiday scheme; TEO]

A Vietnamese woman in her 20s travels to New Zealand on a working holiday visa. After travelling around New Zealand for a month, she enrols in an English language school for four weeks’ intensive English-language training. After her studies, she continues travelling around New Zealand, taking odd jobs in bars, cafes and on farms.

  • This international student is studying with the Code signatory provider for more than two weeks and paying full fees, so she must be enrolled as an international student.
  • The provider must ensure that the international student has Code of Practice appropriate insurance for the four weeks during which she is enrolled. As a working holiday visa holder from Vietnam, the international student should already have insurance, so the provider will need to check that her insurance policy complies with the requirements of the Code of Practice.
  • In this instance, it was not practicable for the provider to have ensured that the woman had cover for her travel to and within New Zealand, as the provider did not know she was planning to travel to New Zealand or that she was in New Zealand until just before her course commenced.
  • The provider also decides that it is not practicable to ensure Code-appropriate insurance cover for the international student after her period of enrolment has ceased as she will be travelling around New Zealand with no enduring relationship to the provider.
  • The provider makes clear in the enrolment contract that it takes no responsibility for the international student’s insurance cover beyond the last day of enrolment.
  • The signatory documents all the above in their file for the international student.

4. [less than two weeks, agent organising accommodation, tourist activities during and after enrolment, tuition fees received]

An agent approaches a Signatory (school) to host twenty 12-13 year-old international students for five school days, as part of a three-week trip to New Zealand. The agent has requested the Signatory focus on ESOL, and will pay the usual weekly rate per student. The agent has said that they will organise the accommodation, and that the Signatory only needs to be responsible for the students while attending classes. The international students will also be undertaking tourist activities, both while at the Signatory and before and after enrolment.

  • As the international students are enrolled for less than two weeks, the Code of Practice does not require the Signatory to ensure that the international students have insurance (Clause 16 (5)).
  • The Signatory may, however, have their own policies about insurance for short-term international students. If so, these should be communicated to the agent as soon as possible.

5. [sister school relationship, students are participating in a weekend school trip, tourism after enrolment]

A Signatory (school) has a “sister school” relationship with a school in Japan. Each year, the Japanese school sends 8 students, aged 14-15, to the Signatory for 6 weeks, accompanied by their class teacher. The Japanese school makes one payment to cover the whole group. The international students go on a school ski trip over a long weekend after the third week, and at the end of their educational instruction, have a weekend in Auckland before they fly home.

  • The students are enrolled for more than two weeks and the signatory is receiving payment, so these students must be enrolled as international students and are covered by the Code of Practice.
  • The Signatory must ensure, as far as practicable, that the students have appropriate insurance which covers their travel to and from New Zealand, and within New Zealand, i.e. the tourist activity (the ski trip and the weekend in Auckland, even if the Signatory has decided the Auckland weekend is outside the period of enrolment/educational instruction).
  • Even if the Signatory has decided that the weekend in Auckland sits outside the period of educational instruction, and that it is, therefore, not responsible for pastoral care of the students under the Code of Practice for that weekend, the Code of Practice still requires that signatories ensure that, as far as practicable, students have appropriate insurance. In this case, it is “practicable” to ensure that the students have appropriate insurance for the Auckland weekend, as the trip is immediately after the period of educational instruction.

Offer of place

Immigration New Zealand prescribes the requirements of what needs to be included in the offer of place that a student can use to apply for a visa.

International student profile

Providers will collect information when an international student enrols.

This can be more than basic personal and contact information, especially if the provider will be arranging homestay accommodation or wants additional information on the student's home culture or preferences.

See an example: International student profile (DOCX, 29KB)

Email any suggestions for and contributions to this page to code.enquiries@nzqa.govt.nz.

 
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