National Student Index (NSI)

The NSI is a database maintained by the Ministry of Education and allocate a unique identifier, the National Student Number, to every student enrolled at an education provider in New Zealand. Learn more about the database and how to access it.

Level of complianceMain audienceOther


  • Boards
  • Principals and Tumuaki
  • Boards
  • Education Organisations
  • Parents, Caregivers and Whānau

Education organisations can learn how to access and use the NSI. Also, students can find information about the NSI that has been tailored for them.

Accessing the National Student Index (NSI)

Tertiary Education Organisations (TEO's) that receive EFTS (Equivalent Full Time Students)-based funding, or that offer qualifications approved for student loans and/or allowances, will have access to the NSI system. This may be either through an interface with their Student Management System (SMS) or through the NSI web application.

These TEOs will be able to assign NSNs for their students and update existing NSI records that their students may already have. NZQA also assigns NSNs for students that they interact with who do not currently have an NSN.

There are several different options for accessing the NSI:

These different options are offered so that TEOs can select the option(s) best suited to their needs - depending upon student numbers, the nature of enrolment processing and the general nature of student management processes and systems.

Web Application

The NSI web application is available for authorised NSI users to log in and perform any of the NSI functions over the Internet. A valid user ID and password (obtained from the Ministry of Education Service Desk) are required to log in. Actions performed against the NSI database using this interface are effected immediately, with users undertaking NSI processing interactively with the central NSI system.

As the web application is not designed to be integrated with a Student Management System, organisations that decide to use the web application as their sole means of accessing the NSI will need to transfer data between their SMS and the NSI manually. This interface is best suited to TEOs with a small number of students and/or TEOs that have spread out enrolment periods. This interface is also well suited to ad hoc queries or processing. As NSI activity reports will only be able to be viewed via the web site, it is expected that most organisations will make some use of the web application.

The National Student Index Web Application User Guide explains the prerequisites to enable a valid user to use the web interface of the NSI system. It provides instructions for the web functionality and advice on how to navigate your way through the web interface.

REST Interface

The NSI has a new REST interface which enables Student Management Systems to 'talk' with the NSI over the Internet. The REST interface allows SMS systems to integrate with NSI data and functionality, over a standardised protocol. This allows the maintenance of student records to remain in SMS software, while sending and retrieving data from NSI in the background. This means that systems which use this interface option can expect to send requests and receive responses from the NSI over the Internet, but the direct user interaction will be only with their SMS. In order for this interface to work, the organisation will need to be connected to the Internet, sending information and waiting for a response.

Integration with the REST interface requires custom development.

XML/Soap Interfaces (for existing client base only)

Note, the XML and SOAP interfaces are to be phased out and replaced with the REST interface.

The use of the XML or SOAP interfaces enables Student Management Systems to 'talk' with the NSI over the Internet. From the perspective of a Student Management System user the interfaces are seamless, as the SMS will interface with the NSI 'behind the scenes'. Users perform NSI-based actions interactively, via their SMS. For the XML and SOAP options, SMS software will need to be modified to include calls to the XML/SOAP interface to perform the required functions and to interpret the returned results. Limited SMS screen changes will also be required in the SMS - for example, an 'add/create NSI record' button could be added to the appropriate SMS enrolment screen.

These interface options are appropriate for larger organisations, and are well suited to `real-time' and `in person' enrolments given the direct, live communication between the SMS and the NSI. The XML interface is suitable for Student Management Systems that use a non-Microsoft Windows operating system. Given that the SOAP interface is both platform and operating system independent, it is suitable for organisations that are likely to change the operating system that their SMS runs on.

Batch File Interface

A batch file interface is available to process TEO requests for NSI record searches, additions, updates and merges. As actions are carried out on a Student Management System, batch files will accumulate the requests. The upload of the batch files for processing by the NSI system can be done manually through the NSI web application or automatically via the interface. Uploaded batch files will be processed at assigned intervals by the NSI system.

Result files will be generated that report the outcome of batch file processing. These result files will be available for organisations to download from the NSI web site. Organisations will then need to load the result files into their SMS, with any errors or exceptions being processed manually.

This interface option is best suited to organisations with a large number of students and a `bulk' enrolment period. Organisations that have available Internet bandwidth of less than 56kbs may also prefer to use this interface option.

National Student Index Web User Interface

The National Student Index (NSI) Web User Interface (UI) is available for organisations to perform searches on existing records, add new records, update existing records and to request that two or more duplicate NSI records be merged.

  • Organisations can use student information from the NSI for enrolment purposes as well as for reporting to the Ministry, TEC and NZQA.
  • The NSI Web UI Guide explains the prerequisites to enable a valid user to use the web interface of the NSI system.
  • It provides instructions for the web functionality and advice on how to navigate your way through the web interface.
  • Users who mainly access the NSI via their Student Management System (SMS) will find the concepts and advice in this guide very useful.
  • There are also some areas of NSI functionality that can only be accessed via the NSI website.

Requests for support in using the web interface of the NSI system should be made to the Ministry of Education Service Desk 0800422 599.

The complete guide and quick reference can be downloaded:

NSI Web User Interface Guide [PDF, 2.1 MB]

NSI Web User Interface Quick Reference Guide [PDF, 209 KB]

The Guide to Integrating with NSI

The Guide to Integrating with NSI (GINs) document explains the necessary requirements to enable a student management system (SMS) to integrate with the National Student Index (NSI) system. It explains the NSI functionality and details each of the options available for integration with the NSI.

If you would like an electronic copy of the GINs document, please contact

Access the NSI (requires login): National Student Index (NSI) database(external link)

Information for students

What is an 'information matching programme'?

An information matching programme is where one government agency compares the information it holds about you with information another government agency holds.

Who's doing it?

The Ministry of Education (MoE) is going to match data held on the National Student Index (NSI) with that on the New Zealand Birth Register held by the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA).

The NSI is a system in which every tertiary student and NCEA candidate in New Zealand is allocated a unique identifier called a National Student Number (NSN). For more information about the NSI please visit National Student Index (NSI).

What are we doing?

In this information matching programme we will firstly check to see if a person is on both databases. If we find that they are, and that the details on the NSI match the details on the birth register, a note will be put on the matched NSI record to indicate that the name and date of birth details have been verified by the birth register.

Why are we doing it?

The purpose of this information matching programme is to lessen the chances of a student who already has an NSN being allocated a second one. If a student is allocated more than one NSN it adversely affects the quality of the data on the NSI. As the NSI data is used to verify a student's enrolment for reporting and/or funding purposes and to analyse trends and set policy we want to make sure that the data is as accurate as possible.

Is it legal?

Section 78A and Schedule 1A of the Births, Deaths, and Marriages Registration Act 1995 allow us to carry out this information matching programme.

An agreement between MoE and DIA sets out how the programme will be run. This agreement has to be lodged with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, and will be reviewed as part of their normal function.

Pursuant to Rule 1 of the Information Matching Rules (Schedule 5, Privacy Act 2020) we have to try and let everyone who might be affected know what's going on. This page is one of the ways that we are letting you know.

How will this affect you?

The MoE receives a data return from your tertiary institution every four months. Part of this process involves the inclusion of an NSN for each student enrolment. Through your institution's access to the NSI they will be informed of any match made between your NSI record and the Birth Register.

This information matching programme will not affect where you can study, what you can study or any money you might get or have to pay.

Can you check the information we have on you?

We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the data that is held on the NSI. You can request a copy of your student information, and corrections to your information, through the school or education provider you're currently enrolled with.

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