Caring for International Students - The Code

When you come to New Zealand to study as an international student, education providers have a responsibility to ensure that you are well informed, safe and properly cared for.

In New Zealand we call this ‘pastoral care’. You are entitled to be treated fairly, at all ages and at all levels of education.

To support this, the New Zealand government has developed the Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016 (the Code).

The purpose of the Code

The Code describes the minimum standards of advice and care that you can expect as an international student. It provides a complaints procedure that you can follow if you have concerns about the pastoral treatment you have received from an education provider or from the agent of a provider. The Code does not apply to concerns about academic standards.

Only education providers who are signatories to the Code are allowed to enrol international students.

You can search for all signatories to the Code on the Search education organisations page.

How to get a copy of the Code

View the Code of Practice

If you want to know more about the Code, email NZQA at

If something goes wrong

Your education provider must treat you in a way that meets the requirements of the Code. If you have concerns about the way you have been treated by your education provider or by an agent of your provider, your first step is to talk to someone at the provider where you are studying.

  • If you are studying at a primary, intermediate or secondary school, talk to the Principal, the international student director, or another person who is responsible for dealing with complaints.

  • If you are studying at a tertiary education provider, your student handbook should tell you who will help you to resolve your complaint.

Your provider must have a complaints process in place for you to go through, and they must tell you what that process is. Follow your provider’s complaint process to see if your concerns can be resolved by the provider.

If your concerns are not resolved by your education provider

If your education provider has not resolved your concerns, you can make a complaint to NZQA. NZQA is part of the New Zealand government.

NZQA will make an independent assessment of your complaint and then:

  • investigate your complaint, or
  • refer your complaint to someone else who can better help you, or
  • advise you about any other options.

NZQA’s website provides information about making a complaint to NZQA.

Or, if your complaint is about money you have paid, or your contract with your education provider, you can contact iStudent Complaints, the dispute resolution scheme operator, at 0800 00 66 75.

iStudent Complaints is an independent service with experience in helping people to resolve disputes.

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