Education and Training Act 2020 - updates relating to Tertiary and International education

Tertiary Education Strategy remains valid until replaced

Section 7 of the Act 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Strategy (TES) and clarifies that any existing TES remains valid and does not expire until replaced by a new one or withdrawn. 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

Section 366 of the Act allows the Minister to specify criteria, in a Gazette notice, about when a workforce development council must endorse a programme before it may be approved by New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA). The new arrangements provide further clarity to workforce development councils, tertiary education providers, and NZQA about the scope of WDC endorsement.  

WDCs will first focus on non-degree provision in their area of interest. Degree programmes will not require WDC endorsement as this could conflict with the principle of academic freedom.

Tertiary education providers will be able to seek WDC endorsement for their programme, even if only part of the programme is covered by the WDC. This is consistent with the industry-provider collaboration that the Reform of Vocational Education reforms are intended to encourage.

Further work will be undertaken on the criteria for Workforce Development Council approval of programmes. The Minister's criteria for Workforce Development Council endorsed of programmes will be published in the Gazette.

Increased period for laying charges

Sections 386 and 387 of the Act extend the limitation period for student loan and allowance offences to up to 12 months after the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) becomes aware of offending.

This is consistent with other similar offences and allows sufficient time for offences to be detected, investigated and prosecuted. 

These offences relate to the failure, by institutions and private training establishments, to provide information or who are providing false or misleading information in response to requests.

Student loan and allowance information

Schedule 9 of the Act allows the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) to hold social housing information in the same database as student loan and allowances information and social security benefit information. This will allow MSD to efficiently store information and provide better client services.

Extended expiration date for Education (Pastoral Care of Domestic Tertiary Students) Interim Code of Practice 2019

Under Clause 67 of Schedule 1 of the Act, the expiry date of the Education (Pastoral Care of Domestic Tertiary Students) Interim Code of Practice 2019 (Interim Code) has been extended by one year, until 1 January 2022.  The extension of the Interim Code reflects that the demands of COVID-19 have meant that tertiary learners, providers and employees have been unable to contribute to the development of a long-term Code within the original timeframe. The Minister of Education is now able to make minor and technical amendments to the interim code if needed.

Cancelled Export Education Levy Payment Obligations

Clause 69 of Schedule 1 of the Act cancels the requirement for providers to make Export Education Levy (EEL) payments for international fee-paying students in 2020 and 2021, to help providers affected by the loss of international students. This change will give additional opportunities for providers to remain viable and support the COVID-19 response and recovery. Levies already paid will be refunded and the Crown will cover the costs of the services funded by the EEL during this time.

Varying tertiary education funding determinations without a stand down when there is an emergency or epidemic

Section 423 of the Act allows the Minister to vary a funding determination immediately following consultation, when there is an epidemic notice issued or a national or local state of emergency. Prior to the legislation change, a revised funding mechanism would take effect three months after the variation or at the beginning of the next calendar year, whichever is later. 

The Minister will still be required to consult all organisations that would be affected by a proposed variation and all other persons and organisations that the Minister considers ought to be consulted. This change would improve the way that tertiary education organisations and the Tertiary Education Commission can respond to and support the recovery from epidemics or national/local states of emergency.

Private training establishment sub-categories

Section 342 of the Act allows the Minister to establish sub-categories of private training establishments (PTEs) by Gazette notice.

Under the previous legislation, the Minister of Education could recognise a registered establishment as a community tertiary education provider. This enables community tertiary education providers to be recognised for regulatory purposes as a distinct grouping of PTEs. 

Rather than continuing to establish new categories one-by-one through legislative change, the Act enables the Minister to identify PTE subcategories through a Gazette notice. 

Once Gazetted, the sub-categories of PTEs could be used as needed for regulatory purposes by New Zealand Qualifications Authority or the Ministry of Education in relation to things such as quality assurance, levy payment, etc. 

Any changes to regulatory provisions relating to individual categories will follow standard requirements for consultation and due process.

Education (Vocational Education and Training Reform) Amendment Act 2020

The Education and Training Act incorporates the enacted version of the Education (Vocational Education and Training Reform) Amendment Act 2020.

The Education (Vocational Education and Training Reform) Amendment Act 2020 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 (Pastoral Care) Amendment Act 2019

The Education and Training Act incorporates the enacted version of the Education (Pastoral Care) Amendment Act 2019.

The Education (Pastoral Care) Amendment Act 2019 amended 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)

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