Many attendees at Certificate of Approval training courses throughout New Zealand are international students who work part time in the security industry. As they can work up to twenty hours a week, security work often gives them a viable option to earn extra funds.

Any registered NZQA Private Training Establishment (PTE) that enrols international students into a training programme must, under the Education Act (1989), be signatories to the Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice. The Code of Practice is available, and can be downloaded as a pdf, on the New Zealand Legislation website. An international student is defined as “anyone who is not a domestic student” and a “domestic student is a person who is a NZ citizen or a holder of a residence class visa”.


Prior to 2012, this only applied to courses over 3 months in duration, in effect exempting COA training providers from having to be signatories to the Code. However, since July 2012, the Code has applied to any course, regardless of duration, that is mandated by law or leads to gaining a licence (e.g. Certificate of Approval). No-one can be exempted from having to be signatories to the Code as follows:

The Education (Exempt Training Schemes) Notice 2012 states:


“Exempt training schemes-The following classes of training schemes, which are of less than 3 months duration, are exempt for the purposes of section 232B(1)(b) of the Education Act 1989:
(a) Training schemes that are recreational in nature;
(b) corporate training, but not including corporate training schemes that are designed for the purpose of meeting regulatory requirements for occupational registration, occupational licensing, or health and safety in the workplace; and
(c) training schemes of less than a credit value of ten credits, but not including training schemes that are designed for the purpose of meeting regulatory requirements for occupational registration, occupational licencing, or health and safety in the workplace.”


Of the 32 training providers in NZ holding NZQA consent to assess against the mandatory unit standards (27360, 27361, 27364), 18 are signatories to the Code and 14 are not. It should be noted that not all the previously mentioned training provider group are currently active in delivering this training.

Unfortunately, this leaves many training providers in breach of both NZQA regulations and the Education Act 1989. To remedy this there are two options, both of which pose logistical issues for training organisations. Firstly, they can become signatories to the Code or secondly, they can cease enrolling international students into their courses. NZQA accepts that many providers of the COA training may be accidentally in breach, however their expectations are that all providers must be compliant to prevent sanctions under the Education Act 1989.

The application process to become a signatory to the Code is complicated, drawn out and onerous, and organisations applying must have very strong 360-degree systems to support international students. As one PTE recently discovered, the requirements of the Act virtually exclude small providers delivering mandatory training and whose interface with international students is brief. The Act requires, amongst other things, that the PTE must:

  • Have a designated employee who is responsible for international students 24/7
  • Sign a written contract with each international student which includes the beginning and end dates for enrolment, the conditions of terminating the enrolment, and the conditions for terminating the contract
  • Have policies and procedures in place to support international students with living arrangements, insurances, visas, health care, transport and course fees. The fact that this is the initial responsibility of their primary training provider (e.g. a business college) has no bearing on the situation and is not negotiable. “Signatories are obliged to provide insurance and visa requirements for receiving educational instruction”, (NZQA)
  • Provide NZQA with the marketing strategy for international students including all website marketing, brochures and physical approaches to students for the mandatory training. Also required is that all international students must be given written information regarding the course (websites are not acceptable)
  • Standard withdrawal and refund policies do not apply to international students who are entitled to refunds where domestic students aren’t
  • Providers must give international students a copy of the Code and the complaints process for international students (which is different from domestic students)

The above is only a very (very) brief indication of what is required to become a signatory to the Code and as can be seen, this is entirely problematic. NZSTA’s Chairperson has discussed this at length with NZQA’s Quality Assurance division, who, although sympathetic to the situation, are adamant that there are no exemptions under the law.

International students are still able to undertake the COA training with organisations that are signatories to the Code. However, the law shuts out the smaller organisations and provides a pecuniary and marketplace advantage to organisations such as polytechnics and large PTEs. These agencies enrol international students onto long term programmes and are therefore already signatories to the Code. They have the funding (generally from the international student or government), the policies and procedures and the staffing levels available to manage the requirements of the Code on an ongoing basis.

Interestingly, even though an organisation may already have a solid framework to support students (as with Category 1 and 2 providers), this has no bearing when international students are involved.

NZSTA intends to take this further with NZQA as it impacts not only on the providers but also on the students wishing to gain a COA and work in the security industry. With recent news items regarding international students being unable to feed themselves and sleeping in cars or cramped living quarters due to a lack of funds, this avenue is being closed.

Further information and support is available from the following:

NZQA Quality Assurance division – 0800 697296


Kathy Wright Chairperson

New Zealand Security Training Association