Advice for tertiary providers/whare wānanga

Information for tertiary providers/whare wānanga about COVID-19 (novel coronavirus).

This section was updated on Wednesday 20 May at 3:10pm

Alert Level 2

Tertiary education is a safe environment for students and staff to return to at Alert level 2.

Tertiary education organisations (TEOs) will implement public health requirements and physical distancing as appropriate for the context, and will work closely to ensure a safe environment where students can continue their learning.

They will need to maintain distance learning capability to help manage within these constraints, and ensure safety of staff and students at risk of COVID-19.

Workplace-based learning will be conducted within the specific rules applicable to the relevant industry.

At Alert Level 2, all on-site activities at tertiary education organisations can resume, such as classes, lectures, labs, workshops, tutorials, noho, and meetings.

However, TEOs must maintain their ability to deliver courses remotely, and should be in a position to transition to fully remote learning (if required).

Tertiary education staff are no longer restricted to interacting face-to-face with one group of students. However, strict public health control measures should be in place. 

Check out the latest Tertiary Provider Bulletin [PDF, 739 KB].

More information about Public Health Requirements for Tertiary Education Organisations at Alert Level 2

Guidelines for Tertiary Education providers: how to operate under different Alert Levels [PDF, 678 KB]

For previous issues go to: COVID-19 bulletins for education providers and students (external link) .

Technology Access Fund for Learners (TAFL)

Education Minister Chris Hipkins has announced a $20 million fund to help eligible tertiary learners continue their education disrupted by COVID-19.

The Government wants to ensure learners in need can access support for distance learning as soon as possible as many don’t have the appropriate devices, internet connections and related support to undertake technology-enabled learning.

The Technology Access Fund for Learners will help make digital devices and internet connections available to eligible learners. It will be available to tertiary education organisations including Wānanga, transitional industry training organisations and private training establishments who will be required to ensure vulnerable students are prioritised.

Details on how tertiary providers can access the fund are available on the TEC website (external link) .

COVID: Support for tertiary students to learn online - (external link)

Pastoral care codes of practice

Much of the advice and information detailed below relates to requirements in the Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016 or the Education (Pastoral Care of Domestic Tertiary Students) Interim Code of Practice 2019, which are administered by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA).

While there are some differences in the specific requirements set out in the two codes, the principle informing the outcomes of each code is that students are able to make informed decisions about their health and wellbeing, and that students who are unwell or at risk are identified and supported to access appropriate help.

For more information on the Codes, visit:

(Pastoral Care of Domestic Tertiary Students) Interim Code of Practice 2019 – NZQA (external link)

(Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016 – NZQA (external link)

Temporary hardship fund for International students

We are aware that some international students are experiencing unusual hardship because of changes to their personal circumstances, due to the global impacts of COVID-19. The Government has established a hardship grant fund for international students to address urgent, temporary needs; for example, temporary inability to access cash or reduced part-time employment.

The $1M Fund may be used to:

  • scale up existing hardship initiatives that support international students,
  • support eligible students through direct cash grants up to $1000 per international student,
  • purchase resources on behalf of international students, such as food parcels, where this is appropriate.

The Fund will be administered by Education New Zealand. Providers and organisations will apply to Education New Zealand for funding. For full details about criteria, frequently asked questions and how to apply, visit ENZ's website (external link) .

If you have any further questions, email

Advice to an unwell student or staff member

If you have a particular concern about a student or staff member, ask the student or staff member to call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (or +64 9 358 5453 for international SIMS).

Healthline has translators and interpreters available 24/7 in 150 languages.

There are concerns some students may avoid going to a hospital for fear of cost. As COVID-19 is now a notifiable infectious disease, treatment for people who have, or who are suspected of having, COVID-19 is publicly funded under the infectious disease exception, to the extent appropriate in the circumstances to manage risks to other persons. This covers anyone in New Zealand, regardless of visa/citizenship status or length of time in the country.

Please note that the services are limited to:

  • Diagnosis.
  • Treatment of the person’s infectious or quarantinable disease.
  • Follow-up services.
  • Contact tracing services.
  • Surveillance of persons who are liable to quarantine under the Health Act 1956.

For more information visit:

People receiving treatment for infectious diseases - Ministry of Health (external link)

Who is responsible for the care of students who are diagnosed with COVID-19 but do not require hospitalisation?

If a student is diagnosed with COVID-19 but does not require hospitalisation, they will need to follow the advice of the appropriate health professionals (such as their GP) for health care.

Providers must comply with the requirements in the pastoral care codes of practice. These include requirements to support all students with information and oversight of students at risk, as well as the more detailed requirements for domestic and international students in accommodation arranged by the provider.

How can providers support student wellbeing?

Emotional and mental health is important. Students may be feeling stressed or lonely, especially if they are self-isolating or are worried about family and friends overseas.

Providers should encourage students to reach out to their usual supports, like family and friends, and to talk about how they feel.

Under the international Code, providers must ensure that appropriate measures are put in place to address the needs and issues of international students as risk or with special needs.

Helpful advice for working out what measures may be appropriate can be found in NZQA’s international Code guidelines under Clause 25:

(Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016: 25. Process: international students at risk or with special needs – NZQA (external link)

The Interim Code also requires providers to assist all domestic tertiary students to manage their physical and mental health. This includes promoting awareness of wellbeing and mental health and practices that support good mental health and providing information about accessing health services themselves. Providers must also identify students at risk and ensure that there are effective pathways for assisting those students to access health services.

More advice for managing mental wellbeing regarding COVID-19 is available on the Ministry of Health website:

Managing your mental wellbeing – Ministry of Health (external link)

The Ministry of Health also offers a 24-hour ‘Need to talk?’ helpline staffed by mental health professionals. This is a free number or call or text at 1737 at any time:

Need to talk? Free phone or text 1737 – Ministry of Health  (external link)  

There is also an NZ Government COVID-19 support factsheet, and more information on our website:

COVD-19 support factsheet – NZ Government (external link)     

More information about supporting the wellbeing of your community – Ministry of Education (external link)

What are the options for accommodation when self-isolating?

Self-isolation requires that someone has accommodation that is stable and limits their contact with any other people living in the same dwelling; e.g. a separate room and, if possible, separate bathroom.

A private home/flat is preferred over shared living arrangements such as hostels, boarding houses, residential halls, or even hotels.

In all cases, accommodation for international students must comply with the requirements in the Code by:

  • Ensuring that students aged under 18 are living with their parents or a residential caregiver who has been subject to safety checks; and
  • Ensuring that accommodation arranged by the signatory for students aged 18 and over is safe and in acceptable condition, and that effective communication is maintained with these students; and
  • Ensuring that other students aged 18 and over are directed to relevant advice and information that will enable the student to understand their rights and obligations as a tenant in New Zealand.

See Clause 26 of the Code for more information:

(Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016: 26. Process: accommodation – NZQA (external link)

NZQA’s Code of Practice guidelines can also be used to support compliance:

(Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016 – NZQA (external link)

For domestic students in student accommodation (which has an exemption under the Residential Tenancies Act) who are required to self-isolate, outcomes 7 and 8 in the Interim Code require providers (and their contracted accommodation services) to provide peer support, information and advice on self-care and positive well-being, what action to take in an emergency and how to report health and safety concerns.

Under both codes, providers should also ensure that they regularly check on the welfare of students in self-isolation.

What if the student is in shared accommodation?

Students can still share accommodation while self-isolating, so long as they follow the appropriate self-isolation procedures.

As much as possible, students should limit contact with people other than the family members/companions they travelled with. They should avoid having visitors, but it is okay for friends, family or delivery drivers to drop off food.

If students are in a home where the other residents have not travelled (e.g., home / flat, a homestay, student accommodation), they should minimise close contact with the other residents by avoiding situations where they may have face-to-face contact closer than 1 metre for more than 15 minutes. The other household residents do not need to self-isolate provided these precautions are followed.

Students in self-isolation should not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, pillows or other items with other people in the residence. After using these items, they should wash them thoroughly with soap and water, place them in the dishwasher for cleaning or wash them in the washing machine.

Providers should also give consideration to other residents, and support affected students into alternative temporary accommodation as appropriate

Self-isolation – Ministry of Health (external link)

Student requests to defer their study

All education providers should apply the principles of fairness to ensure students are not disadvantaged from the current situation through no fault of their own. Providers should advise affected students about arrangements if they want to defer, including how their fees will be protected and how to apply for an updated Confirmation of Study/Offer.

In the event a student decides to withdraw from their programme of study, providers should ensure students are made aware of any potential refunds.

If providers have concerns about how changes may affect a student’s visa, contact Immigration New Zealand or check their website for general information about student visas relating to COVID-19: 

Travel and visa advice for students – Immigration New Zealand (external link)

COVID-19 – Immigration New Zealand (external link)

Use this form if you need to notify Immigration New Zealand of changes to an international student’s circumstances as a result of COVID-19:

Student change notification form – Immigration New Zealand (external link)

Managing attendance records for students

If students are following New Zealand Ministry of Health guidelines for self-isolation and cannot participate, attendance records should note that the absence is due to genuine circumstances.

If providers have concerns about how changes may affect a student’s visa, contact Immigration New Zealand or check their website for general information about student visas relating to COVID-19:

Travel and visa advice for students – Immigration New Zealand (external link)

COVID-19 – Immigration New Zealand (external link)
(external link)

Visa-related questions

Temporary restrictions on travel remain in place as a precautionary measure.

If students or parents have visa-related questions, they should check Immigration New Zealand, which provides updates on the visa situation through its website:

Travel and visa advice for students – Immigration New Zealand (external link)

FAQs for signatories - students on commercial or repatriation flights

Financial assistance for the costs of changes to travel, fees, and accommodation for students

There is no direct government support available for costs incurred in relation to COVID-19. However, Code signatories have an important responsibility to ensure students are well informed, safe and properly cared for. This includes ensuring international students have the appropriate insurance in place.

NZQA advises Code signatories and international students to contact their insurance provider directly for up-to-date advice on any possible claims as a result of COVID-19. Providers may also choose to make financial aid available to students, and/or additional provision for students affected by COVID-19 and the related travel restrictions and self-isolation.

Signatories enrolling international students with exclusions on their insurance policies will need to weigh up all factors and the available information. There is an expectation that signatories ensure, as far as practicable, that the risks outlined in Clause 16D of the Code are covered.  

Pandemic planning

If you would like to review your pandemic plan, the Ministry of Education guidance will assist you through that process:

Review your pandemic plan

Emergency Management planning (includes advice for pandemics)

If you would like to review your pandemic plan, the Ministry of Education guidance will assist you through that process:

Review your pandemic plan (external link)

Emergency Management planning (includes advice for pandemics)

The Emergency Management Plan template also includes provision for pandemics:

Emergency management plan template (external link)  [DOC, 719 KB]

Keep an eye on our website and the Ministry of Health website for updates: 

COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) guidance – Ministry of Health (external link)


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