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Stronger protection for international students

Stronger protection for international students

A strengthened Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students was released today by Education Minister Trevor Mallard, aimed at further protecting international students and the billion-dollar export education industry.

“The strengthened code will add significantly to the quality of international education in New Zealand,” Trevor Mallard said.

“The revised code also puts New Zealand at the forefront of best practice in the care and well-being of international students from around the world.

“I expect the changes to the code will greatly improve pastoral care provisions for all international students including those on short courses, giving them the same guaranteed minimum standards of care as their longer-term counterparts.

“The code has been in force since March 2002. Practical experiences since then, including the tragic death of a student at the now defunct boarding establishment, the Columbus Academy, revealed areas for possible improvement and strengthening of the code of practice.”

Trevor Mallard said a draft revised code had been circulated to the industry, and submissions from the sector had raised concerns about proposed pre-checking of boarding establishments and homestays for all international students, regardless of a student’s age.

There had also been concerns about the on-going monitoring of accommodation and welfare for all international students.

“These concerns have been addressed. The Ministry of Education worked closely with the Human Rights Commission to provide greater protection for international students and better target those at risk in the revised code.

“I would like to thank those who took the time to make submissions. I also encourage all education providers enrolling international students, who by law must comply with the code, to take note of the changes,” Trevor Mallard said.

Important improvements to the revised code include:

· Extension of the code to international students on short courses, regardless of their length of stay or whether they are alone or in study groups;
· Tightened definitions of caregiver and tightened definitions of the types of accommodation international students may live in, in order to better manage risks to students’ wellbeing;
· Greater protections for international students who are unable to protect themselves against significant harm or exploitation and/or unable to adequately safeguard their personal welfare; and
· A new requirement to report concerns about accommodation to the Code Administrator (Ministry of Education).

Trevor Mallard said the Ministry of Education was in the final stages of work around future policy on very young international students who are at the primary or intermediate level of schooling.

“I continue to have concerns about the well-being of very young international students studying in New Zealand without adequate parental guidance and support, and I will be looking to address this issue within the next few months.”

E-copies of the final revised code together with the analysis of submissions are available on-line at http:// http://www.minedu.govt.nz/goto/international or by e-mailing mailto: mailto:international.unit@minedu.govt.nz.

Background Information on revised code

The Ministry of Education received 60 submissions on the draft revised code circulated in late May, and over 300 submissions in the initial consultation phase in April.

Improvements to the code include:

Extension of the Code to international students on short courses

Not all international students are in New Zealand to undertake long-term university degree study, or complete the National Certificate of Education Achievement (NCEA). The changes extend the code’s coverage to those international students here short-term, undertaking introductory English language courses or part-semester programmes, for example.

Tightening definitions of types of accommodation international students may live in

For example, the code now better ensures that a boarding establishment cannot be classified as a homestay, and it has been aligned with existing local government and building laws in relation to boarding-type accommodation.

The changes make it explicit that accommodation situations with large numbers of international students must be defined as boarding establishments under the code and therefore must meet the minimum pastoral care quality requirements.

A person unknown to the family of an international student, or a boarding establishment owner or manager, will not be able to be appointed as a designated caregiver.

Greater protections for international students who are unable to protect themselves against significant harm or exploitation and/or unable to adequately safeguard their personal welfare

The new requirements include regular communication with these students, regular communication with parents or next of kin (where appropriate), liaison with other agencies (such as health bodies), and assistance or appropriate referral if a student is not considered to be living in an appropriate accommodation situation.

Reporting concerns about accommodation to the Code Administrator

New provisions will also require providers to report any serious concerns relating to accommodation provision to the Code Administrator (Ministry of Education). The Code Administrator is also given the ability to refer matters to the International Education Appeal Authority (IEAA).

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