COVID-19 update for Tertiary Providers - 23 March

The Prime Minister has announced that we are now at COVID-19 alert level 3, and will be moving to alert level 4 in 48 hours.

Our observation is that the sector has, by and large, implemented most changes required for alert level 3. You should be directing all of your efforts to preparing for alert level 4.

The general guidelines on alert level 4 are as follows:

  • People are instructed to stay at home.
  • All educational facilities are to close and provide distance learning where this can be reasonably managed by staff working from home.
  • Businesses closed except for essential services (e.g. supermarkets, pharmacies, clinics) and lifeline utilities.
  • Travel severely limited.
  • Major reprioritisation of healthcare services.

Under level 4, the following guidelines apply to all Tertiary Education Organisations:

  • Your number one priority should be the welfare of your students and staff, and ensuring that they can self-isolate in accordance with new Ministry of Health guidelines as per the PM’s announcement.
  • All education and research services requiring face to face contact should be suspended immediately.  As much delivery as possible should be shifted online, so long as this can be managed by staff working at home.
  • Many students (including international students) are likely to have to remain in residential accommodation, either because this is their only available accommodation, or because they are unable to travel home.  Providing services to these students so that they can self-isolate is an essential service.  This includes on-campus medical services, catering, pastoral care and other services.
  • Residential facilities must support remaining students to self-isolate and must strictly enforce personal distancing and hygiene requirements, in accordance with Ministry of Health guidelines.
  • Medical research required for combatting COVID-19 is an essential service. 
  • All staff not working in essential services should be sent home.  This includes all senior executives.  Vulnerable staff who are providing essential services should be sent home and their roles filled by others.
  • All TEOs should comply with any instructions from authorised government officials including in relation to requisitions and rationing.

All TEOs should assume that they will continue to be funded at their 2020 Investment Plan and Fees Free levels until further notice.

Government education agencies are moving to remote working and will remain in operation.

Government agencies are working on a range of ways to support TEOs and students through this stage of COVID-19 and we will announce further guidance and measures as these are developed. 

In the first instance we are giving considerable thought to how we support distance delivery.  We will send out a separate bulletin with some advice on this. 

We will send out a separate bulletin for TEOs with international students.

For health advice, please refer to the Ministry of Health’s website:

Covid-19 - Ministry of Health(external link)

For Cross-agency information about COVID-19 (novel coronavirus), including health advice and travel restrictions visit the All-of-Government website: link)

To keep updated on travel restrictions and visa information visit the Immigration New Zealand website:

Covid-19 response - Immigration NZ(external link)

For additional advice for tertiary providers/whare wānanga visit the Te Mahau website: 

Covid-19 page - Te Mahau(external link)

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