Education and Training Bill - updates relating to Tertiary and International education

Tertiary Education Strategy remains valid until replaced

The Bill continues the ability for the Minister to issue a Tertiary Education Strategy (TES) and clarifies that any existing TES remains valid and does not expire until replaced by a new one. This clarification provides more certainty to the tertiary education sector, the Tertiary Education Commission, and New Zealand Qualifications Authority.

Workforce Development Council endorsement of programmes

The Bill provides further information about the Workforce Development Council (WDC) endorsement of programmes as the current legislation is not sufficiently clear, which creates uncertainty for the sector and risks for NZQA when determining this matter. The new arrangements will allow providers to seek WDC endorsement of any programme. The Minister may set parameters for the extent to which WDC endorsement of a programme is, or can be made, a pre-condition of NZQA programme approval.

Increased time limitation period for laying charges for certain student loan and allowances offences

The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) administers part 25 (and related provisions) of the Education Act 1989, which provides for the administration of student loans and allowances.

Under the 1989 Act, it is an offence for institutions and private training establishments to fail to provide information, or to provide false or misleading information, in response to information requests.

However, the 1989 Act does not specify the time period in which charges must be laid, which means the Criminal Procedure Act 2011 applies by default. Under this Act, charges for these offences must be laid within six months of the date that the offence was committed.

A six month time period for laying charges is problematic. These investigations can be complex and therefore challenging to complete within that time. The six month period is also inconsistent with similar offences under both the 1989 Act and the Social Security Act 2018. Both of these Acts allow charges to be laid up to 12 months after MSD becomes aware of the offence.

Clause 374 of the Bill provides that prosecutions relating to information requests must be commenced within 12 months of the date on which MSD becomes aware of the offence. This is consistent with other similar offences, and provides a reasonable time for these offences to be detected, investigated and prosecuted to enable effective enforcement.

Allowing student loan and allowance information to be kept with social housing information

Under the Education Act 1989, the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) can hold client information collected for the purposes of administering social security benefits and student loans and allowances in one place and use it for the different client assessments and related activities that are undertaken by MSD, including prosecuting offences and imposing penalties.

Under the 1989 Act, MSD cannot hold and use client information relating to social housing together with client information it holds for administering benefits and student loans and allowances. This is because the responsibility for social housing assessments was transferred to MSD after the relevant provisions in the 1989 Act were enacted.

This means that the original intention to provide authority to store and use client information collected for different purposes together cannot be realised. This is inefficient for MSD and inconvenient for clients, as MSD has to ask for client information again, even though it already holds this information for another purpose.

Clause 5 of Schedule 9 of the Bill allows MSD to hold client information relating to benefits, beneficiaries, social housing and student loans and allowances on the same system or systems, and about the same person on one file. This will enable MSD to use this information to assess entitlement to support, recovering debt, prosecuting offences and imposing penalties. This amendment will close the gap that currently exists in relation to social housing information.

Reform of Vocational Education (ROVE)

The Education (Vocational Education and Training Reform) Amendment Act established a new regulatory framework to create a unified and cohesive vocational education and training system. The Act instituted the new framework by amending the Education Act 1989 and revoking the Industry Training and Apprenticeships Act 1992.

Education (Vocational Education and Training Reform) Amendment Act

Reform of Vocational Education - New Zealand Parliament | Pāremata Aotearoa website(external link)  

The Education and Training Bill (as reported back from the Education and Workforce select committee) incorporates the enacted version of the Education (Vocational Education and Training Reform) Amendment Act.

The Education (Pastoral Care) Amendment Act 2019

The Education (Pastoral Care) Amendment Act amends the Education Act 1989 and enables the Minister of Education to issue a code of practice for the pastoral care of domestic tertiary students to ensure that those students are well informed, safe and properly cared for.

Education (Pastoral Care) Amendment Act

Education (Pastoral Care) Amendment Act - New Zealand Parliament | Pāremata Aotearoa website(external link)

The Education and Training Bill (as reported back from the Education and Workforce select committee) incorporates the enacted version of the Education (Pastoral Care) Amendment Act.

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