Minister of Education Chris Hipkins has introduced amendments to the Education Act (1989) (the Act) to address regulatory gaps relating to the pastoral care of domestic tertiary students.
Amendments involve a mandatory Code of Practice that establishes the duty of pastoral care tertiary education providers have for their students.
The mandatory code will replace the voluntary code that was created in 2004. “The self-regulation approach has failed to maintain adequate and consistent standards across the board,” Mr Hipkins says.
Breaches to the code which result in serious harm or death of a student will be punishable by a new offence allowing the Crown to take legal action.
The offence will carry penalties of up to $100,000.
The ministry says it will work with the sector to create a mandatory permanent code which will come into effect in 2021.
An interim code based on the existing voluntary code will be developed by the beginning of the 2020 Academic year.
New offences and penalties will apply to both tertiary and international codes of practice from January 2020.
Changes in the Act will be aimed at ensuring minimum standards of safety for tertiary education students who choose to live in a hall of residence or hostel during their studies.
The changes follow the discovery of the death of a student at a university residence in Christchurch.
Police reported the male student was found dead at University of Canterbury’s Sonoda Village on Monday, 23 September.
Sonoda is a location of third-party student accommodation provider, Campus Living Villages, who operate in 60 education institutions in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and United States.
Former Judge Kit Toogood QC to lead independent enquiry into death
The University of Canterbury Chancellor, Sue McCormack, has appointed former High Court Judge Kit Toogood QC to lead the investigation into the delay in discovering the death of the student at Sonoda Village residential hall.
Mr Toogood has been granted full independence to conduct the inquiry.
The Investigation’s Terms of Reference, devised by Mr Toogood, include the circumstances surrounding the delay in the discovery of the person’s death.
The Terms also include the goal to have the Investigator’s Report completed in 6 weeks from the date the Terms were published (2 October).