Education and Training Act 2020: Prohibiting the provision of NCEA offshore

The provision of NCEA offshore is generally prohibited

Section 455 of the Act prohibits the provision of NCEA offshore, with two exceptions:

  • to allow for the continued provision of NCEA to domestic students through distance school enrolment gateways,
  • to allow for NCEA qualifications to continue to be provided in jurisdictions where the Government has enabled this through government-to-government agreements.

A third, COVID-19 related temporary exception (Schedule 1, Part 1, subpart 3, clause 12) allows NZQA to approve schools to provide NCEA to their students who were enrolled for 2020 on or before 3 July, but are unable to enter New Zealand due to boarder restrictions. Further information about this temporary exception is set out below.

Currently, Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu (Te Kura) is New Zealand’s only distance school, and only the Cook Islands and Niue have a government agreement that allows for the provision of NCEA outside of New Zealand.

Tertiary education institutions offering unit standards that may also lead to NCEA can continue to offer these standards, as long as they lead to qualifications other than NCEA.

Section 541 of the Act makes it an offence to breach the prohibition, with a maximum penalty of $10,000. This penalty is consistent with pre-existing penalties for similar offences. NZQA is responsible for enforcing compliance, with the offence and penalty provisions, which are designed to complement NZQA’s existing monitoring and enforcement powers.

NCEA is designed to be delivered in New Zealand

NCEA was developed for New Zealand students or those living in New Zealand. It is not intended to be an international qualification. The assessment of achievement standards requires teacher understanding of the National Curriculum and competence in delivering the learning outcomes. This cannot be guaranteed in an offshore setting.

The widespread provision of NCEA outside New Zealand would create significant risks to the international reputation and credibility of New Zealand’s national qualifications and wider education system.

COVID-19 related temporary exception to the prohibition for 2020 enrolled students

Allowing the provision of distance education and NCEA to students based offshore

The COVID-19 pandemic has created considerable uncertainty about the continuation of New Zealand study pathways for international fee-paying students studying in New Zealand in 2020, as well as for the New Zealand schools that host and educate them.

To provide more certainty for these students and schools, the Act temporarily allows State and State-integrated schools, where approved by the Minister of Education, to provide education to their eligible students while they are based outside New Zealand. It also allows registered schools to provide NCEA to their students while they are based offshore, where approved by NZQA in accordance with their Rules.

NZQA has the authority to specify the standards against which a school may or may not assess students based offshore. NZQA, schools and students will have to focus on those standards that are more suitable for quality teaching, learning and assessment by distance.

Further information, including about applying to provide NCEA offshore(external link)

Exceptions are time limited and only available to students already enrolled in school in 2020

The temporary exception only applies to students who have a 2020 enrolment with a New Zealand school, on or before 3 July 2020. All exceptions are time-limited and will expire at the end of 31 December 2022. This is to allow affected students who are studying towards Level 1 in 2020 to continue their NCEA pathway through to Level 3, while preventing any new provision of NCEA offshore.

Outside of this response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the basic policy principles relating to the provision of education and NCEA to students based offshore have not changed.

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