Offshore learning

Offshore learning

Providing Education and NCEA outside New Zealand during COVID-19.

Providing Education and NCEA outside New Zealand

State and State integrated schools are normally unable to provide education to students outside New Zealand, and the Education and Training Act 2020 prohibits the provision of NCEA outside New Zealand with two exceptions.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has created considerable uncertainty about the continuation of New Zealand study pathways for international fee-paying students who were studying in New Zealand in 2020, as well as for the New Zealand schools that host and educate them.

To provide more certainty for these students and schools, the Act temporarily allows State and State integrated schools, where approved by the Minister of Education, to provide education to their eligible students while they are based outside New Zealand. There is currently no restriction on the ability for private schools to provide education to students outside of New Zealand.

It also temporarily allows registered schools (State, State integrated and private) to provide NCEA to their eligible students while they are outside New Zealand, where approved by NZQA in accordance with their Rules.

Eligible students are those who were enrolled with their New Zealand school for the 2020 school year on or before 3 July. This includes those enrolled students who are currently overseas due to border restrictions, and those who are present now and may wish to go back to their home countries but are unsure if they will be able to re-enter New Zealand.

This policy is time-limited and will expire at the end of 31 December 2022. This is to allow affected students who were studying towards Level 1 in 2020 to continue their NCEA pathway.

In their application, schools will need to provide evidence of the eligibility of their students outside New Zealand. Schools must also demonstrate they have the capacity, capability and processes to provide suitable learning programmes, assessments, information and support to these students via distance delivery methods.

NZQA will also approve the standards against which a registered school may or may not assess students in this situation – focussing on those standards that are more suitable to teaching, learning and assessment by distance. They will also require course approval from NZQA for any courses established mainly and exclusively for international students (e.g. an English as a Second Language course) if they do not already have it.

Schools must have an existing consent to assess, and the standards they offer to these students must be suitable for a remote learning environment. They must also outline how they have considered the implications of this offshore learning to ensure their assessment and moderation processes will produce credible and authentic results for both internal and external standards. All NCEA results are quality assured by the schools before they are reported.

In the limited circumstances allowed for in these temporary provisions, the risks and challenges associated with providing New Zealand education, including NCEA, to students outside the country can be managed and mitigated.

Outside of this response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the policy settings relating to the provision of education and NCEA to students outside New Zealand have not changed.

Make an application

Schools can apply to both the Minister of Education and NZQA at the same time through a single form. Please read the guidance document and follow instructions on the form carefully, as some schools may not need to complete an answer for every question.

The Ministry will forward applications to NZQA from all registered schools that wish to provide NCEA offshore.

The Ministry will inform State and State integrated schools of the outcome of their application to provide education to their eligible students based offshore. This approval is required before NZQA can approve their provision of NCEA to these students.

NZQA will inform registered schools, including private schools, of the outcome of their application to provide NCEA to their eligible students based offshore.

There is no processing fee for applications to provide only education offshore. Schools will receive an invoice for a fee of $190 + GST per hour once their application to provide NCEA offshore has been processed.

For general queries and to submit completed applications to provide education and/or NCEA outside New Zealand, please email:

For NCEA-specific queries, please email NZQA:

For further information, read the Education Reports and cabinet paper.

How should schools set the fees for eligible international students while they are not physically present at the school?

Schools are responsible for setting their own international student fees, in line with Section 521 4B of the Act, which requires that international students cover the full cost of their education, including but not limited to:

  • tuition fees
  • additional tuition costs e.g. intensive English language classes
  • extracurricular activities
  • homestay costs (including placement and monitoring costs)
  • marketing and administration costs, including pastoral care
  • additional services e.g. airport pick-up or transport
  • the International Student Levy (for State and State integrated schools), which cover the costs of using government resources to educate the international students.

When calculating international student fees, schools might like to start with the average funding they receive for a domestic student, then add on the extra services they provide to international students.

The fees to sit NCEA assessments remain the same.