Tertiary and International Learners Code of Practice

The Education (Pastoral Care of Tertiary and International Learners) Code of Practice 2021 (the Code) supports the wellbeing of tertiary and international learners enrolled with New Zealand education providers.

It sets out the expectations that education providers must meet for the wellbeing and safety of their learners.

NZQA is the Code administrator, responsible for monitoring and supporting providers to give effect to the Code. We have published our plan for administering the Code in 2022. The plan outlines NZQA's priorities, monitoring and capability building activities, and what this means for each subsector in 2022.

Download a copy of the 2022 Code administration plan (PDF, 445KB).

Pastoral Care over summer

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 until 31 December 2021.

The new Code, information below, from 1 January 2022 (information below).

For schools, there are no new Code requirements for schools in New Zealand that enrol international students. However, requirements for schools have different outcome and clause numbers in the new Code. Please refer to the Code to Code Tool for School Signatories (PDF, 183KB).

For tertiary education providers, the new Code has retained some of the same, or similar, requirements from the previous international Code. Please refer to the Code to Code Tool for Tertiary Signatories (PDF, 167KB).

In the case of a critical incident over a term break, providers should check the Code 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:

2016 Int’l Code (by 31 Dec)

Both schools and tertiary providers

See the 2016 Code Guidance (PDF, 915KB)


2021 Code (from 1 Jan)

See the 2021 Code Guidance (PDF, 1.2MB)


2021 Code (from 1 Jan)

See the 2021 Code Guidance (PDF, 1.2MB)


See relevant guidelines for future advice.

Clause 25(1)a


Clause 75(1)a

Refer to 2021 Guidelines, Outcome 18


Outcome 4 and related clauses

Refer to 2021 Guidelines, Outcome 4

 Appropriate measures to address student needs and issues: you need to ensure adequate support for the wellbeing of students.

Outcome 3 and related clauses


Refer to 2016 Guidelines, Outcome 3

Outcome 15 and related clauses

Refer to 2021 Guidelines, Outcome 15

Outcome 10 and related clauses

Refer to 2021 Guidelines, Outcome 4

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.

Clause 16d


Refer to 2016 Guidelines, Outcome 3


Clause 65


Refer to 2021 Guidelines, Outcome 15

Clause 44


Refer to 2021 Guidelines, Outcome 10

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.

Clause 23(1c)


Refer to 2016 Guidelines, Outcome 6

Clause 73.1.c and 73.1.d

Refer to 2021 Guidelines, Outcome 18

Clause 50.1.b


Refer to 2021 Guidelines, Outcome 12

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

Clause 16e


Refer to 2016 Guidelines, Outcome 3

Clause 66


Refer to 2021 Guidelines, Outcome 15

Outcome 10 and related clauses

Refer to 2021 Guidelines, Outcome 10

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.

Clause 23 (1e)


Refer to 2016 Guidelines, Outcome 6

Clause 73.1.f

Refer to 2021 Guidelines, Outcome 18

Clause 50.1.d


Refer to 2021 Guidelines, Outcome 12

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.

Please ensure to:

  • follow critical incident plans (NZQA's template can be found here (PDF, 266KB)),
  • if you are a part of a membership organisation, they might also have resources and plans to follow, and
  • in the unfortunate case of the death of an international learner, 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 learner 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 school signatories, 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. 

Information on Covid-19

The Ministry of Education (MoE) releases bulletins as a central channel for communicating key Covid-19 information:

  • Tertiary provider bulletins can be found here.
  • School bulletins can be found here.
    • Some specific Covid-19 advice from MoE for international Code school signatories .

The Ministry of Health website contains a range of information and guidance on Covid-19, including locations of interest and self-isolation.

The Unite Against COVID-19 website contains information about vaccination requirements for education providers (including student accommodation) at different traffic lights under the COVID-19 Protection Framework.

Please check these websites for latest information and advice.   

For any questions, concerns or advice and support when responding to a critical incident, please contact the Code team via 0800 697 296 (and ask to be put through to the Code team) or code.enquiries@nzqa.govt.nz

This Code applies from 1 January 2022

This Code of Practice is effective from 1 January 2022, replacing the previous Codes of Practice:

the Education (Pastoral Care of Domestic Tertiary Students) Interim Code of Practice 2019 (PDF, 202KB); and

the Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016 (PDF, 736KB).

How do I get a copy of the Code?

You can download the Education (Pastoral Care of Tertiary and International Learners) Code of Practice 2021 in both English (PDF, 925KB), and Te Reo Māori (PDF, 939KB).

Information for learners

The information on this page is designed for education providers. Learners can use the following links for more information about this Code:

Know the Code - tertiary learners

Know the Code - learner videos  

Who does the Code apply to?

If your organisation does either of the following, some or all of the Code applies to you:

  • enrols international students at a primary or secondary school or a tertiary provider
  • enrols domestic students at a tertiary provider.

You need to be a signatory to the Code before you enrol international students

Your organisation must be an approved signatory to the current Code before you enrol any international students.

You can apply to NZQA to become a signatory.

If your organisation is already a signatory, you do not need to apply again.

What do I need to do?

You need to ensure your organisation is giving effect to the new Code from 1 January 2022. 

This means you need to undertake a gap analysis by: 

  • reviewing current practices against the new Code
  • identifying any gaps and planning to address them.

In 2022, the focus will be on capability building.

January to June 2022

You will need to update your practices and upskill, to address any gaps identified and ensure compliance with the Code.

July 2022 onwards

You need to undertake ongoing review of and improvement to your practices, as required by the Code.

From July we will resume the following quality assurance processes:

  • Self-review attestation (due dates to be set in collaboration with each sub-sector)
  • 'Monitoring for insights' to inform capability-building
  • Inclusion of the new Code in EERs.

What support is available?

To support providers and learners, we have created the following resources:

Code implementation guidance

We have developed implementation guidance to support your understanding on how to put the Code into practice in your organisation.

The guidance sets out NZQA’s expectations for interpreting and applying the new Code, including for learners based offshore and in workplaces.

It is pan-sector guidance that aims to address immediate information needs about applying the Code, with further tailored supplementary resources planned for next year.

We recommend reading the guidance, section by section, using the tool on the right of the document to navigate between the sections.  

  • Sections 1-3 are new as they focus on Outcomes 1-4.
  • Sections 4-5 are a reformatted version of existing Code guidelines (for student accommodation and international tertiary learners) and have minor updates from the previous guidance documents.

If you are reviewing your practice, we recommend reading the guidance in conjunction with the Code and the gap analysis toolkit, both of which can be found on this webpage.

Download the implementation guidance for the Code (PDF, 1.2MB)

Gap analysis toolkit

We have developed this optional toolkit to support tertiary education providers' gap analysis of current practices against the requirements of the Code. 

You do not have to use the toolkit, but it contains:

  • a gap analysis template
  • possible evidence examples
  • an action plan template.

Click on the links below to download the toolkit and any additional parts.

Code-to-code comparison tools

We created these tools to support you, if your organisation is a provider with student accommodation and/or enrols international learners, to match the clauses of the outgoing two Codes (international Code (2016) and interim domestic Code (2019) with those of the Code. 

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

Information session introducing the Code

In September and October of 2021, we hosted information sessions to provide an overview of the Code and our next planned actions as Code Administrator. Use the links below to access a recording and copies of the presentation materials.

See the information session recording

See the slides from the information session in Powerpoint (PPTX, 15MB) or pdf (PDF, 1.9MB)

Code 101 workshop

We facilitated the following workshop for staff at tertiary education providers over the course of 3 weeks at the end of 2021 (22 Nov - 10 Dec).

This workshop was developed to provide an overview of Outcomes 1-4 of the new Code of Pastoral Care, which is effective from 1 January 2022.

Outcomes 1-4 are for all tertiary education providers, and includes tertiary providers that enrol international learners.

This workshop is designed for any staff members that support tertiary learners, and in particular staff members who work within pastoral care, or student support teams.

Use the links below to access a recording and copies of the presentation materials.

See the slides from the workshop in PowerPoint (PPTX, 77MB) or pdf (PDF, 6.1MB)

Watch the Code 101 Workshop presentation

See the transcript of the Code 101 Workshop video (PDF, 299KB)

Further information

If you have any questions or concerns, email the Code team.

Code News is regularly released and is tailored to your sector - join our mailing list by filling out this form.

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