Advice for tertiary providers/whare wānanga

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

Alert Level 1

New Zealand is now at Alert Level One.

Information about the four level alert system(external link)

At Alert Level 1, the main national control measures are border restrictions and managed isolation or quarantine for people entering the country.  

While we are at Alert Level 1, it will be critical that we all remain vigilant.

There is still a global pandemic, which is likely to continue for some time, and we therefore need to be in a state of readiness to respond quickly should a new case of COVID-19 be detected within the community.

This means that individuals should be continuing good hygiene practices, keeping track of where they go and who they meet.

Golden Rules for everyone at Alert Level 1 – Unite against COVID-19 website(external link)

Once we move to Alert Level 1, the general guidelines for TEOs are:

  • All on-site activities at tertiary education facilities can resume as normal, including classes, lectures, labs, workshops, tutorials, noho, meetings, etc.
  • All staff and students may return to on-campus activities.
  • TEOs are not required to maintain records to enable contact tracing, but may continue to collect this information as long as they protect peoples’ privacy and safety.
  • TEOs are encouraged to enable individuals (i.e. staff, students, and visitors) to keep track of where they have been by displaying QR codes so people can use the COVID Tracer app.
  • TEOs are not required to maintain physical distancing.
  • Remote learning and teaching systems should be maintained in case of a move to a higher alert level.
  • TEOs should be ready to move up alert levels at short notice (i.e. be ready to implement the required public health control measures of each level).
  • If a staff or student is concerned about their wellbeing, or has underlying health conditions, they should work with their GP or other health professional to understand how best to stay healthy.

Guidelines for Tertiary Education providers: how to operate under different Alert Levels [PDF, 690 KB]

For previous bulletins go to: COVID-19 bulletins for education providers and students

More tertiary students to get access to free mental health services

The Government has announced $25 million in new funding to expand front line mental health and wellbeing services for tertiary students.

National and international research tells us that students who feel safe and confident in themselves and in their learning environments, are those who best engage and achieve in education, in work and in life. In short, students who are happy and healthy learn better.

This funding will be used to meet the ongoing wellbeing needs of tertiary students in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. These new services will be embedded within tertiary settings to ensure ease of access and will include access to counselling and other treatments as well as peer support, self-management support and links to social and wellbeing supports.

The Ministry of Education will work closely with the Ministry of Health to facilitate the accelerated role out of the youth specific services of the Ministry of Health’s mental health, wellbeing and addiction initiatives to tertiary providers.

The initiative will be implemented via a Request for Proposals (RFP) process led by the Ministry of Health. Tertiary and health providers (District Health Boards, Primary Health Organisations, and non-governmental organisations) will partner to deliver the health services through a tertiary provider. The RFP process will get underway in November. We expect that students will notice an expansion in services and increased choices from 2021.

Q. How will this initiative be implemented?

A.  The Ministry of Education will work closely with the Ministry of Health to accelerate the Ministry of Health's roll-out of youth-specific wellbeing and addiction initiatives to tertiary students through their providers.

The initiative will be implemented through a Request for Proposals (RFP) process in which tertiary providers and health providers (District Health Boards, Primary Health.

Organisations, and non-governmental organisations) partner to deliver tailored primary level mental wellbeing supports to tertiary students. This approach would help ensure flexibility given individual tertiary providers' different contexts, needs, and student demographics.

The roll-out of services will likely give priority to students who currently have limited access or options for mental wellbeing services or where there is indication of higher levels of need.

Q. When will these mental wellbeing services be available and who will be able to access them?

A. This initiative aims to make more mental wellbeing services available to tertiary students. The initiative will focus on supporting tertiary students with mild to moderate levels of distress through primary-level supports, which may include evidence informed therapy and treatment services, peer support, cultural support, self-management support and access to a range of social supports. The services may be offered face-to-face, by virtual/digital service or a combination of these.

The expansion of these services will start next year and continue over the following four years as we continue to grow a diverse workforce, with both clinical and peer support for young people. This means we expect that students will notice an expansion in services and increased choices from 2021. Not all students will be able to access them at the same time. It will depend on when the services are established in their tertiary education provider.

Q. Why is the Government adopting a strategic and integrated approach to wellbeing?

A. People who are happy and healthy learn better.

Children and people who feel safe and confident in themselves and in their learning environments, are those who best engage and achieve in education, in work and in life.

Racism, discrimination, bullying, poverty and family violence are issues that affect wellbeing. They impact on confidence, achievement and sense of belonging.  

Māori parents, educators, whānau and students have also identified the fostering of Māori identity, language and culture as critical to Māori education success.

The Wellbeing Budget Package supports learners and whānau to address their immediate, as well as their medium to long term, wellbeing needs. This includes the impact of COVID-19.  We need this integrated approach to address wellbeing in partnership with learners and whānau in early learning, schooling and tertiary.

Q. How will this initiative be implemented?

A.  The Ministry of Education will work closely with the Ministry of Health to accelerate the Ministry of Health's roll-out of youth-specific primary mental health, wellbeing and addiction initiatives to tertiary providers.

The initiative will be implemented through a Request for Proposals (RFP) process in which tertiary providers and health providers (District Health Boards, Primary Health Organisations, and non-governmental organisations) partner to deliver tailored primary level mental wellbeing supports through a tertiary provider. This approach would help ensure flexibility given individual tertiary providers' different contexts, needs, and student demographics.

The roll-out of services will likely give priority to where students currently have limited access or options for mental wellbeing services or where there is indication of higher levels of need.

Q. When will these mental wellbeing services be available and who will be able to access them?

A. This initiative aims to make more mental wellbeing services available to all tertiary education students. The initiative will focus on supporting tertiary students with mild to moderate levels of distress through primary-level supports, which may include evidence informed therapy and treatment services, peer support, cultural support, self-management support and access to a range of social supports. Service provision may be offered face-to-face, by virtual/digital service or a combination of these.

The expansion of these services will start next year and continue over the following four years as we continue to grow a diverse workforce, with both clinical and peer support for young people. This means we expect that students will notice an expansion in services and increased choices from 2021. Not all students will be able to access them at the same time. It will depend on when the services are extended to and established in their given provider.


Q. How does this initiative 
support the response to and recovery from COVID-19 pandemic?

A. COVID-19 will have long-lasting impacts on the mental health and wellbeing of students and this will increase demand for services. There will be immediate and ongoing wellbeing  impacts of COVID-19, including for tertiary students. Tertiary students will face particular challenges with the potential disruption to their original plans, economic impacts and uncertainty about employment opportunities.

Rolling-out and expanding mental wellbeing services to tertiary providers at a faster rate will result in more tertiary students benefitting from these services in the medium-term (1-2 years) following the COVID-19 pandemic, during which high-demand for such services is anticipated.

Q. Why is funding being provided to roll out mental health services to tertiary providers when this is already funded under Budget '19?

A. There will be immediate and ongoing wellbeing impacts of Covid-19, including for tertiary students. We want to ensure students have access to a range of mental health, addiction and wellbeing supports to respond to the ongoing impacts of Covid-19.

This funding will build on the Ministry of Health's five-year roll-out of primary mental health and addiction services funded through Budget 2019, accelerating and expanding the youth-specific stream to include a specific focus on tertiary settings. This will enable more tertiary students to access mental wellbeing services in the medium-term after COVID-19 when demand for these services will be high.

Q. How will we work with providers?

A. Tertiary providers and health providers will work together to design services that are easily accessible and best meet the needs of their population.

Q. When will these mental wellbeing services be available and who will be able to access them?

A. Although the Government has already allocated funding to boost the immediate wellbeing response to COVID-19, including via wider and easier access to online support services, this funding will give tertiary students more choice of support services on a medium-to-longer-term basis.

Students can already access wellbeing services either from their existing health provider or through other community or national services. This initiative aims to make more mental wellbeing services available to all tertiary education students.

The initiative will focus on supporting tertiary students with mild to moderate levels of distress through primary-level supports, which may include evidence informed therapy and treatment services, peer support, cultural support, self-management support and access to a range of social supports. Service provision may be offered face-to-face, by virtual/digital service or a combination of these.

The expansion of these services will start next year and continue over the following four years. This means we expect that students will start to notice an expansion in services and increased choices from 2021, depending on when the services are extended and established by given provider.

In the meantime, there are initiatives that are already available to tertiary students. For example, the Ministry of Health recently launched a number of remote and online services as part of Government's immediate response to COVID-19. This includes Melon which has a youth-specific component for people up to 25, and Staying on Track, which is an E-CBT programme.

Fund to support learners to train in high demand areas

Education Minister Chris Hipkins has announced a $320 million fund to encourage and support New Zealanders to undertake and continue in vocational education and training in high-demand industries, at no cost to learners.

The Government has made it easier for New Zealanders who want to train in industries where demand is expected to grow as the country recovers from COVID-19 and have removed costs for learners, apprentices or employers – for the next two and a half years.

Hon. Chris Hipkins: Release of initial list of supported training to aid COVID-19 recovery – Beehive.govt.nz(external link)

Targeted Training and Apprenticeship Fund FAQs for Learners – Tertiary Education Commission(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 Tertiary Education Commission website(external link).

COVID-19: Support for tertiary students to learn online - Beehive.govt.nz(external link)

Pastoral care codes of practice

Extending the Interim Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of Domestic Students

The Minister of Education is proposing extending the Interim Code of Practice (Pastoral Care of Domestic Tertiary Students) by one year, to January 2022. In the interim, tertiary providers would continue implementing the Interim Code which aims to improve the wellbeing of students.

This extension would be done by making changes to the Education and Training Bill to allow for full consultation on a long-term Code of Pastoral Care, including a dispute resolution scheme.

If this becomes law, the current Interim Code could remain in place for another year. In the meantime, a new provision will allow the Minister to make minor and technical changes where needed.

The extension is because tertiary education providers, learners and those who work in the sector have had to focus their immediate energy into responding to COVID-19.

More information about the 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 assistance for foreign nationals programme

  • The Assistance to Foreign Nationals Impacted by COVID-19 Programme opened 1 July 2020.
  • Any foreign national in New Zealand – including international students – may apply for this support if they are experiencing temporary hardship due to the effects of COVID-19. More information here(external link) 

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 wellbeing:

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

COVID-19 and wellbeing

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)

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

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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