How to make a complaint

What should you do first?

Before coming to NZQA you should try to resolve the issue with the education provider itself.

Many education providers have a formal complaints process. You may be able to find this online, in the student handbook, or by asking a member of staff. If you can’t find the formal complaint process, write to the head of the education provider, such as the chief executive, director, or the board of trustees.

NZQA may decide not to investigate unless you’ve tried to do this first.

Tips for resolving a complaint with your education provider.

If you cannot sort your problem with the education provider, you might be able to make a complaint to NZQA.

Making a complaint to NZQA

Your complaint should be about a specific process or practice that your education provider did that was unfair or inequitable – and as such, might need to be improved to be compliant with NZQA regulations.

  • NZQA is not a dispute resolution service and generally cannot assist you to get a refund or personal remedy.
  • NZQA’s complaints process cannot provide individual remedies to a complainant, as that is outside of our powers.

If you are looking for a specific remedy, we recommend you contact:

Tertiary Education Dispute Resolution (for domestic students)

iStudent Complaints (for international students)

Alternatively, you can look for independent legal advice.

How to submit a complaint

You can make a complaint to NZQA by:

  1. Filling in the formal complaint form (PDF, 170KB)
  2. Collecting the evidence to support your complaint
  3. Sending this to NZQA by:

Risk Management, NZQA

PO Box 160

Wellington, 6140

NZQA’s complaint process

Receiving and assessing your complaint

When you complain to NZQA, we will let you know that we’ve received it.

We’ll then assess your complaint to see if NZQA can investigate it.

In some cases, we can help informally by contacting your education provider and asking them to take another look at your complaint. If this resolves your complaint, you can withdraw it. If we can’t resolve your complaint this way, we will continue to do a formal assessment of your complaint.

What we can investigate

We may not be able to investigate if your complaint falls outside of our scope.

To determine if your complaint is within our scope to investigate, we assess your complaint issues against the requirements in the:

NZQA Rules

Education (Pastoral Care of Tertiary and International Learners) Code of Practice 2021 (PDF, 925KB)

Education and Training Act 2020.

If NZQA can’t investigate your complaint, we will let you know we will let you know and suggest another complaint body that might be able to investigate your concerns.

Other complaint bodies that may be able to help

If your concerns relate to:

You can contact:

An international student’s financial or contractual dispute with their education provider

iStudent Complaints

A domestic learner's financial or contractual dispute with their education provider

Tertiary Education Dispute Resolution

The quality of a university programme or qualification

Universities New Zealand

Administrative acts and decisions of a public education provider (universities, wānanga, or Te Pūkenga institutions)

Office of the Ombudsman

Student loans and allowances


Fees free or government funding for your course

Tertiary Education Commission

A primary or secondary school

The school board

Local Ministry of Education offices

Someone’s safety being at risk

New Zealand Police

WorkSafe New Zealand


Human Rights Commission

How information about you has been stored or used

Privacy Commissioner

Investigating your complaint

If NZQA can investigate your complaint, we will write to you and your education provider to let you know that we have started a formal investigation of your complaint. When we write to your education provider, we will send them a copy of the documents that you’ve sent to us and ask them to respond to the complaint issues. The education provider will then send us their version of events, along with any evidence they have to support this.

Once received, NZQA weighs up the information and evidence, and forms its initial findings on your complaint. The initial findings are sent to you and the education provider to see if we’ve missed anything important.

NZQA will carefully consider any further information that we’ve received before making our final findings.

NZQA then sends you our final findings on your complaint, which may include requirements or recommendations to ensure the education provider improves their processes and practices for future students.

NZQA aims to complete its complaint investigations within 65 working days, but complex cases may take more time.

After the complaint investigation

After investigating a complaint, NZQA will form an initial opinion on whether the education provider has been fair and reasonable, or if it has breached any NZQA regulations.

If we think the education provider has complied with NZQA regulations, you’ll have the opportunity to point out any errors of fact or send in any evidence that might not have been included and considered. If you do send something thing, we may do a reconsideration of our findings.

If we think the education provider has acted unfairly, inequitably, or is in breach of any NZQA regulations, we will make requirements or recommendations to make sure the education provider doesn’t do it again, and future students have a better experience.

NZQA may publish information about the outcome of a complaint, or include your complaint in any reporting we do at an aggregate level, or at a disaggregated by student groups (e.g. age, ethnicity, international status). Your privacy will be protected where necessary.

Tips on making your complaint

First, try to sort out your problem with your education provider.

They should have a complaint process available which tells you the right way to make a complaint. Find out what that process is and follow the steps.

If the education provider does not have a complaints process, write to the head of the organisation, and tell them why you are unhappy.

If you cannot sort your problem with the education provider, you might be able to make a complaint to NZQA.

Make you complaint as soon as you can. It makes it hard for us to look at your complaint if it is about something that happened more than a year ago.

Tell us:

  • What process you went through and want to complaint about.
  • Why you think it is unfair.
  • What the education provider has said about your complaint.

Show us:

  • Documents about your complaint e.g. letter and emails to/from your provider.
  • Anything else you think we need to see about your complaint, e.g. advertising material, your enrolment contract.

Don’t give us extra information that is not about your complaint, as we cannot use that.

Tell us what you would like to happen to fix your complaint.

  • If you want to talk it through before sending us your formal complaint, call our Risk Management team on 0800 697 296.
  • Alternatively, you can use our student complaint enquiry form to send us your question, and we'll email you back.
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