Advice for tertiary students

Alert Levels

The official Unite against COVID-19 website has up-to-date information on the current Alert Levels across New Zealand.

Current alert level - Unite against COVID-19(external link)

Alert System overview

At Alert Level 2:

  • Your provider will remain open, however necessary health control measures must be in place including social distancing and contact tracing
  • While it is not mandatory to wear a face mask or face covering, wearing them is advised where it is not possible to practice social distancing or to carry out contact tracing. This includes, for example, in crowded spaces on campuses, or teaching and learning situations where close physical contact cannot be avoided.

Other supports available are:

  • GP or local community health centre
  • Youthline 0800 376 633
  • Need To Talk by calling or texting 1737
  • In an emergency always call 111

In addition to the above guidelines, another point to note is:

  • Publicly funded COVID-19 related care – including diagnosis, testing and treatment – is provided to anyone who requires it, who has symptoms. This is irrespective of citizenship, visa status, nationality or level of medical insurance coverage. The only time a person should be charged is when they ask for a test in order to enter another country.

Health and wellbeing support for tertiary students

Travel advice across alert levels – NZ Transport(external link)

About free COVID-19 testing – Ministry of Health(external link)

About COVID-19 testing centres – Ministry of Health

COVID-19 mental health resources – Ministry of Health(external link)

COVID-19 bulletins for tertiary education providers and students(external link)

More tertiary students to get access to free mental health services

The government has announced a $25 million package to expand mental health and wellbeing services for tertiary students.

We recognise that tertiary students are facing challenges with disruption to their original plans, economic impacts and uncertainty about employment opportunities as a result of COVID-19. This package will help meet the immediate and ongoing mental health needs arising from these challenges.

These services will be embedded within tertiary providers, management and peer support and links to social and wellbeing supports.

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.

The expansion of these services will start next year and continue over the following four years and we expect that students will notice an expansion in services and increased choices from 2021.

In the meantime, students can talk to their education provider about the well-being services already available for them.

Face coverings

At Alert Level 2 and above students aged 12 and above are required to wear a face covering when on public transport (this does not include school transport).

There are some general exemptions for users of public transport, including for people where, for medical and health reasons, a face covering would not be appropriate and small passenger vehicles such as taxis and ubers (the drivers are required to wear a mask).

Further exemptions for this requirement are charter buses, group tours, inter-island ferries and private flights.

Read the FAQs on face coverings

Student hardship

  • 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:

Support package for tertiary students

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 online 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.

Further information is available on the StudyLink website(external link)

Support for 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 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.
  • 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)

Extending Interim Code of Practice for Pastoral Care of Domestic Tertiary Students until 1 January 2022 

The Government will allow more time to develop the on-going Code of Pastoral Care and accompanying dispute resolution scheme for domestic tertiary students. Plans for wide engagement and consultation on the development of an on-going Code of Pastoral Care and dispute resolution scheme are being drawn up now. Tertiary education organisations, students, sector peak bodies and networks, and others with a stake in this process will be advised how and when they can participate.

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