Advice for tertiary students
This section was updated on Wednesday 20 May at 2:20pm
All tertiary organisations are safe to attend for students and staff at Alert Level 2. Tertiary students should check their organisations’ onsite opening plans.
Most are organising a phased return to onsite learning, while maintaining distance learning options.
Tertiary education facilities 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 facilities 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.
For previous issues go to: COVID-19 bulletins for tertiary education providers and students (external link) .
What this means for you
The Government has said that education facilities, workplaces, and public and school transport are not considered gatherings. There are no restrictions on the number of students and staff on-site at a tertiary education facility, other than what the normal, and the new additional, health, hygiene and safety principles permit.
At Alert Level 2, the public health advice is that all education facilities are safe to open. Additional health and hygiene measures will be place in all tertiary institutions.
However, gatherings at tertiary organisations that are not directly education-related, such as speaking events open to the public, cultural events, social events, etc. should be limited to a maximum of 10 attendees and should follow public health control measures that apply to gatherings.
The Student support package will continue (external link) under Alert Level 2.
The government has also established a $20 million hardship fund to support domestic tertiary students, to be paid out through tertiary education organisations.
This fund provides temporary financial assistance for currently enrolled full-time and part time students who are facing hardship from the impacts of COVID-19. Learners will be able to receive money to pay for necessary expenses like food, utilities and rent, or access resources purchased on their behalf.
This fund will be available by the end of May through tertiary education organisations.
Learners should contact their provider to discuss what support they may require and be eligible for.
Industry trainees are not eligible for this specific fund. Support for industry training has been announced through the Trades and Apprenticeships Training Package. Students in Employer-led Workplace Literacy and Numeracy are also excluded.
Hardship support for International tertiary students is being explored separately.
- If you need extra help during this time you can find information about emergency assistance on the StudyLink's Urgent Costs page (external link)
- If you are an international student, the Government has established a hardship grant fund to address your urgent, temporary needs - for example, a temporary inability to access cash or reduced part-time employment. Assistance available includes direct financial relief or other support, including food parcels and support towards living costs.
- Read more on NauMai NZ (external link)
Stress counselling and support
Emergencies are usually unexpected, sudden and overwhelming. It's natural to feel emotionally and physically drained.
You’re not alone in this and you don’t need to cope on your own. Talk to your friends and family members to help you cope. You can get more help and also information from:
- Your education provider.
- Your GP or local community health centre.
- Youthline (external link) 0800 376 633.
- Need To Talk (external link) by calling or texting 1737.
- In an emergency always call 111.
Further support for vulnerable learners
Government has announced a package to support learners and ākonga to have the devices and connectivity they need to continue their tertiary learning programmes.
Under the package, tertiary education providers will lend devices with appropriate operating programmes and provide the connectivity and learning support needed for learners and ākonga to continue learning despite the disruption caused by Covid-19.
Tertiary education organisations will administer and determine how to prioritise use of the fund. Providers will be funded on the condition that the needs of vulnerable learners are prioritised, and the technological and skills barriers they may face in accessing technology-enabled tertiary education are targeted first.
This will help students, such as those for whom expanding debt is not an option or who study part time and therefore cannot pay for additional course related costs.
Most programmes of study delivered by different types of tertiary education providers are covered. Contact your provider to see if you are eligible.
How can vulnerable learners access this support?
Learners will need to contact their provider who will manage this fund and prioritise who they will support. They will also make decisions around suitability of device, connectivity and provide support on how to adapt to online learning.
Are part-time learners included in this package?
Yes. Your provider will develop a prioritisation strategy to direct funding to learners who are most in need of additional support, but this does not specifically exclude part-time learners.
Does the package apply to learners at wānanga, transitional industry training organisations (TITO’s) and community providers such as ACE?
Most types of tertiary education organisations, and programme types, are eligible. Contact your provider to see if they are eligible.
Our family has a digital device but the children are using it for school. Can I get another device for my tertiary study?
Your provider will make the decision about which learners are most in need of support.
How soon can I get the help I need to be able to study online?
This will depend on your provider, but many have already established initiatives to support online study. Check with your provider to find out what assistance is available.
Are international students eligible?
No. International students are not eligible unless your provider is eligible to receive funding from one of the funding sources for that learner’s enrolment.
Will I be able to keep the device?
No. Your provider owns the device. Once you have completed/finished your studies, the device should be returned to the provider so it can be re-distributed.
The Government has provided a support package to financially assist domestic tertiary students whose study has been affected by Covid-19.
The Government wants to give certainty to students as soon as possible that they can continue to be engaged in their education and will be supported adequately until such time that tertiary education providers can put in place alternative ways of delivering teaching and learning.
Key measures include:
- temporarily increasing student loan course-related costs from $1,000 to $2,000 (as a once only payment). These course-related costs must be spent on things to support your learning at home like internet costs and increased power bills.
- continue support payments for students unable to study on-line for up to 8 weeks
- make technical changes to ensure that:
- where students receive partial tuition fee refunds in 2020 because their course has been discontinued due to Covid-19, this will not affect their future entitlement to student loans
- where students are unable to complete a course of study in 2020 due to Covid-19, this will not affect their entitlement to Fees Free tertiary study.
These measures, together with the support the Ministry of Social Development can already give, provides an immediate response to the financial impact Covid-19 is having on tertiary students.
Who does this package apply to?
It applies to all fulltime domestic students studying at university, private training establishments, institutes of technology, polytechnics (ITPs) and Wānanga this year whether they are enrolled already or planning to enrol.
What do students have to do to apply for support?
Students can now apply through their MyStudyLink account. Students should receive the payment into their nominated bank account within 24 - 72 hours of the claim being received.
Why is the extended study break only for eight weeks?
It has been extended from a period of 3 weeks to 8 weeks, because some students’ study has been interrupted while providers reorganise their courses. At this stage, we expect all students to be continuing their studies within 8 weeks.
Do students have to extend their allowance or loan?
No, StudyLink will advise all affected students about the continuation of their student loan payments and provide students with an option to ‘opt-out’ if they do not wish to continue drawing on their student loans.
Will these supports apply to students who have withdrawn recently?
We have been advising students to stay enrolled so that they can access assistance packages such as this. If students have already withdrawn before 14th April, this package won’t be available to them. But, for students who were receiving Fees Free this year, their study so far will not affect their eligibility for their Fees Free entitlement in the future.
What if my parent’s income has reduced because of COVID-19?
StudyLink (MSD) has flexibility to reassess the support available to you based on your parent’s expected income. If your parent’s income has decreased because of COVID-19, then you may be able to access more financial support through StudyLink.
Does this package include support for additional costs for studying remotely?
Officials are still exploring some of the challenges that students are facing accessing study remotely.
However, the additional $1,000 that can be accessed for course related costs can be used to address some of these challenges such as internet and power bills.
What additional support is available for students’ mental health needs?
Students can access mental health support services through their providers. The way these services are delivered may have changed, for example interviews may now be online or by phone. Students should talk to their providers regarding how to access these services.
There is a range of other support available to New Zealander’s. This includes online resources like the: Low Down, Mental Health Foundation (external link) and Ministry of Health’s website (external link) .
Why are these changes needed?
These changes are to ensure income continuity and adequacy for tertiary domestic students during the Covid-19 outbreak. Many students’ incomes have been impacted because they have not been able to continue part-time work. Others have had to move from cities during the lockdown. Some are facing additional costs to connect to the digital technologies they need to continue studying their programmes in different ways.
Does this package apply to international students?
International students cannot access direct financial assistance in the same way as domestic students. In usual circumstances, international students are required to have supports in place during their study. However we want to make sure that you have access to the essential services that can provide for your basic needs. If you are in urgent need of essentials like food, medicine or cleaning products, here are some places that can help:
- Your place of study. Under the Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016, your place of study has an important responsibility for your health and wellbeing. Contact the international office (or your usual contact) in the first instance to see if they can help you.
- Embassies. You can contact your home country’s embassy in New Zealand. Find the list of embassies in New Zealand on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade website (external link)
- Local groups. Community, faith-based and cultural groups are providing support to those in need. To find out what is available in your area, contact Citizen’s Advice Bureau: complete the form at https://www.cab.org.nz/find-a-cab/contact-us/ (external link) or phone 0800 367 222.
- Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups. This service is intended for people who don’t have any other options available to them. It operates seven days a week from 7am to 7pm. You can find your local group on the CDEM website (external link) . You can also ask to speak with a translator if you need help.
- Foodbanks. If you are in urgent need of food or other essentials, you can get a free food parcel from a foodbank in your region on the New Zealand Foodbanks website. (external link) We suggest you have your student ID with you when you call.
How soon can students expect to see the course-related costs in their bank accounts?
Government is moving quickly on this and wants this processed promptly. Information about how to access the supports announced today, and when the payment will be processed, will be available from Studylink (external link) , or talk to your provider.
Will I receive a refund for my stay at the halls of residence?
Students in halls of residence have signed contracts with their provider. As these contracts differ between providers, it’s best to check your contract and then talk to your provider about what arrangements might be available to help you.
Will there be any extra support for students who have lost their part-time jobs?
This package is designed to keep you in study now. Further work is continuing to find out what options may help priority groups of learners but this is in its early stages.
Is the government planning on releasing any information outlining employment rights’ information for tertiary students?
Government is working to make sure that any entitlements and allowances – for study, for hardship, for employment – are transparent and readily available. MBIE is updating information on what support is available for employees and this is likely to cover information relevant to students who are studying part-time.
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