Compulsory student services fees

The Government regulates the process that tertiary providers must follow to set compulsory student services fees (CSSFs) and decide on what they are spent on.

CSSFs are regulated differently to tuition fees. Instead of determining how much CSSFs can increase by each year, the Government regulates the process providers must follow to set these fees and decide on what they are spent. This provides flexibility for providers to charge a higher CSSF for services that students agree are of high value. This helps to ensure that tertiary providers are accountable to their students and transparent on what services are delivered through CSSFs that students pay.

The current ministerial direction issued in 2019 (available online through the link below) specifies that tertiary providers charging a CSSF must:

  • only charge a CSSF for activities within specified categories of student services, such as health and counselling services, and sporting and cultural activities;
  • ensure students form part of the decision-making process when setting a CSSF. This aims to ensure that providers and students work together to set student services fees and determine what services are delivered;
  • separately account for CSSF income and expenditure;
  • report on their use of the CSSF by service each year so that students and government know what services the CSSF is funding;
  • provide basic information on their websites on the amount of the CSSF and how students can be involved in decisions on the CSSF.

The TEC monitors whether or not tertiary providers are complying with their responsibilities set out in the ministerial direction. The TEC has published guidance for tertiary providers on how to comply with the ministerial direction. Students or tertiary providers can contact the TEC if they have any questions or concerns with compliance by a tertiary provider with CSSF settings by emailing cssf@tec.govt.nz.

The Cabinet papers and minutes relating to the Government’s decisions on student services fees in 2010 have been released under the Official Information Act 1982 and are available at the links below.

The summary of submissions that were made in response to the draft of the ministerial direction for 2012 and the most recent ministerial direction in 2019 are also available at the links below.

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