Student exchange approvals

Student exchange approvals are undertaken by the Ministry of Education.

Applications for approval should be sent to the Ministry of Education using the application forms in the related downloads section at the bottom of this page.

Who are exchange students?

Exchange students are overseas students who are in New Zealand to study under an exchange programme approved by the Ministry of Education. This includes school-to-school (or sister school exchanges), as well as those organised by exchange programme organisations (EPOs).

What is the status of exchange students?

A change to the status of exchange students took effect from 1 July 2012, and from that date, exchange students are regarded as domestic students.

All secondary schools which host approved school-to-school (or sister school) exchange schemes need to be signatories to the Code of Practice (the Code).

Responsibility for students who are on an EPO exchange will be with the EPO. Those students can attend any secondary school, whether it is a Code signatory school or not.

For tertiary exchanges

The Ministry of Education and Immigration New Zealand registers one exchange scheme for each institution, rather than each partnership. For example, there would be one ‘Victoria University of Wellington (VUW) exchange scheme’, as opposed to each of VUW’s partnerships being approved individually. This means that institutions are not required to send new/amended/terminated exchange agreements to the Ministry for approval through the year. However, individual student visas are still subject to meeting immigration requirements.

To facilitate this process, institutions are required to provide an Annual Report to the Ministry by 31 March each year (for the previous calendar year), outlining the numbers of students by partner (inbound and outbound), and a list of any new or terminated agreements. A template for the Annual Report is available for download at the bottom of this page.

Any person or organisation wishing to make a formal proposal to establish an approved tertiary student exchange scheme must apply to the MOE. A template is available for download at the bottom of this page.

Approval of school-to-school exchange schemes

Use the school to school exchange student application form in the related downloads section at the bottom of this page. Schools which had approval before 1 July 2012 were able to continue as approved until 1 July 2013. From 1 July 2013 those schools need to have fresh approval under new policy requirements.

Approval of exchange programme organisations

Use the 'EPO application form' in the related downloads section at the bottom of this page. Organisations which had approval before 1 July 2012 were able to continue as approved until 1 July 2013. From 1 July 2013 those organisations need to have fresh approval under new policy requirements.

The process

The Ministry of Education will assess the application on all criteria and forward the application to Immigration New Zealand (INZ).

If the exchange agreement is approved, the Ministry will notify the applicant, log the scheme as Government approved in their records and notify INZ to do the same. The Ministry will maintain a master list of all Government approved exchange programmes.

If the exchange agreement is not approved, the Ministry will notify the applicant of the reason/s why.

Last reviewed: Has this been useful? Give us your feedback