The international education sector and COVID-19

As with many sectors, there will be challenging times ahead for the international education industry.

Many education providers will have international students who are here in New Zealand studying but very worried about what is going on back home and requiring heightened pastoral care. There is increasing uncertainty around what will happen in relation to international students enrolled to start in later semesters.

While the wage subsidies and leave support in the Government’s economic support package announced today will help, issues are likely to arise regarding:

  • whether your international students have adequate insurance for you to continue to meet your requirements under the Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016;
  • what measures you should take to support social distancing (do you close or impose controls on communal areas like libraries, common rooms and cafes?);
  • what other measures you need to take to meet your continuing obligation to ensure the premises and sites you use remain “safe and adequate”;
  • maintaining sufficient staffing levels if a number of your staff need to self-isolate;
  • whether you cancel one or more cohorts of some of your programmes/training schemes; and
  • whether you increase your use of distance learning.

Please see our general COVID-2019 guidance which provides insights on:

  • health and safety obligations;
  • sports and major events;
  • mitigating the cyber security and privacy risks that arise from increased use of technology to work remotely;
  • reducing insolvency risks;
  • consequences for contracts; and
  • business disruption insurance.

For those of you who use homestay arrangements, the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) has issued some specific guidance, covering issues such as managing self-isolation.

In addition, if you do decide to cancel some cohorts of your programmes or training schemes you will need to work closely with the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, your student fee protection supplier and Immigration New Zealand and, if you also have domestic tertiary students the Tertiary Education Commission and Studylink, to manage the impact on students and appropriately manage student fee refunds, student funding and student loans.

Before you move to materially greater use of distance of learning you will need to notify NZQA and discuss with them whether you need approval to make that change for particular programmes or training schemes.

If we can be of any assistance with helping you determine or implement your COVID-2019 response, please let us know.

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