International Students remaining in New Zealand over summer 2020/2021

Under current border settings, tertiary-level international students will need to make careful and informed decisions about their plans for the summer period.
Study providers are asked to ensure they are familiar with their ongoing Code obligations over the summer period, and to assist students to understand their options.

Students facing hardship will need to reconsider whether they should continue to stay in New Zealand or are better to return home.

Any international student who chooses to return home (or otherwise leave New Zealand) over the summer break needs to be aware that they are not eligible to re-enter the country to continue study in early 2021 under current border settings.

Options for students currently studying in New Zealand

International students studying in New Zealand who intended to continue study in 2021 have the following options at the end of this academic year. They can:

  • return home and cease their New Zealand study
  • return home and continue their New Zealand study online in 2021 if their institution has been approved to support this option
  • remain in New Zealand over summer break and continue their New Zealand study in 2021.

Immigration considerations

Immigration New Zealand has confirmed that international students studying at a tertiary level who have a valid student visa are able to remain in New Zealand over the summer break without changing their student visa, so long as their visa duration allows for this. Many current international students will hold a student visa that expires in March 2021.

Students who have a shorter duration visa will need to apply for a new visa before their current one expires so they can stay lawfully in New Zealand over the break period. Immigration New Zealand recommends that students who wish to continue studying in New Zealand apply for a new student visa at least two months before their current visa expires.

If a student visa holder wishes to do extra study over the summer period at a provider other than the one listed on their student visa, they may do so without changing their visa, as long as the courses are no more than twelve weeks in total duration.

Responsibilities under the Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016

If your enrolment contract with international students covers the entire break period, then you will remain responsible for the pastoral care of these students under the Code(external link) as per normal, including any relevant accommodation requirements.

International students must have the contact details of at least one staff member who is available at all times (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) in an emergency.

For students whose enrolment is interrupted over the break (i.e. ceases at the end of the 2020 academic year and resumes when the new semester commences), the specific compliance requirements providers need to consider include:

  • ensuring that the enrolment period is clearly defined in the student’s enrolment contract and that all relevant parties (i.e. provider, student, parent/legal guardian) are clear that the provider’s responsibility for pastoral care under the Code is for the duration of enrolment only
  • ensuring a student is covered by Code-compliant insurance (for the duration of their stay in New Zealand, including for travel to, from, and within New Zealand)
  • ensuring that a transfer of care plan is in place for students aged under 18 years as required by the Code. The party to whom care is transferred must be approved by the parent or legal guardian of the student, and the parent or legal guardian must be notified of each plan.
  • ensuring students have access to information and advice on the minimum wage and labour conditions in New Zealand, and the maximum hours of work permitted under visa conditions.

If an international student remains enrolled with you during the summer when they would normally return home, there may be new or increased pastoral care needs to address. Providers are encouraged to do some scenario planning in order to prepare, and to consider the following:

  • Accommodation over the summer break

    Code signatories must ensure that international students are given relevant advice, or assistance with arrangements, in regard to accommodation over the summer break. The advice or arrangements must follow the Code requirements accordingly.

  • Wellbeing, mental health, and financial hardship

    For some students and families, the prospect of remaining in New Zealand over summer break rather than travelling home to reconnect with family may be daunting. We suggest that you talk honestly with your students if you or they feel that a prolonged period away from family will cause significant distress. In these cases, returning home may be the best option.

    Financial hardship support that has been available to affected international students during the COVID-19 lockdown and subsequent months is meant to be temporary only. Students should not expect to rely on any financial assistance of this type to get through the summer break. If students are facing financial hardship and do not have a clear plan for getting through it (such as paid employment), they should return home.

    If students do not have the means to return home, they should contact Immigration New Zealand to see if they are eligible for assistance to pay for a flight home.

Please contact the Code team at NZQA should you have any concerns or questions regarding these matters: 0800 697 296 or

Summer study, skill development and recreation activities for students

Providers should continue to consider what programmes they offer, or connect students with, during the summer break. Many excellent programmes are already in development and will provide these study, skill development and recreation opportunities. You may be able to run extra courses over the summer for international students, and would be able to enrol students from other providers if the courses are shorter than twelve weeks.

Some regional development agencies will be facilitating programmes over the summer and in some regions this information may already be available. Some universities are considering offering special programmes for international students transitioning from school into university and these may be appropriate for some of your students.  Further information will be available in the coming weeks.

NauMai NZ, the website for international students studying in New Zealand, has a new section that is dedicated to helping international students make a decision on what to do over the summer. This includes activities and events provided by providers and regional development agencies that are taking place across New Zealand and how to look after their wellbeing.

Encourage your students to visit the Summer in NZ section of NauMai NZ(external link) for further information.

For updates and to contact ENZ, visit their website: link)

Managed isolation and quarantine for students

You will be aware that everyone entering New Zealand has to spend two weeks in managed isolation and quarantine within the current government system. It is not currently possible to use provider facilities for this purpose.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment continues to lead cross-government work on quarantine and managed isolation. The Ministry of Education is an active participant in these discussions to ensure that the needs and capabilities of the international education sector are considered as border systems and requirements evolve.

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