What is personal information?
Personal information is information about you that identifies you, or by which your identity can reasonably be ascertained. This includes your national student number, your eligibility status, any information you provide us relating to your eligibility, and the timestamp that you entered your NSN into this website.
How do we collect your personal information?
Information we collect from you We only ask for personal information if you use the tool on this website to check whether you meet the fees-free citizenship/residency criteria and the prior study criteria (even if you meet those criteria, you will only be able to access free-free tertiary education if you are enrolled in an eligible programme). To do that you need your own national student number (NSN). You don’t have to provide any personal information to us but, if you don’t and if we don’t already hold enough information about you to determine your eligibility, we won’t be able to determine whether you’re eligible. If we cannot determine this, you won’t be able to get some of your tertiary education fees-free.
If you don’t yet have an NSN or you do but you’ve not checked your eligibility before enrolment, and you believe you’re eligible, you’ll be able to have this confirmed at enrolment. If at that time you already had an NSN, we may have already been able to inform your tertiary education organisation of your eligibility. If you didn’t have an NSN or we need more information to confirm your eligibility, you’ll need to obtain official confirmation through this website then.
If you use the tool on this website to obtain confirmation of your eligibility, the information we ask for depends on whether we already hold enough information to determine whether you’re eligible for some of your tertiary education fees-free. We hold NSNs and, in most cases, can determine whether you’re eligible by reference to education-related information associated with your NSN. In some cases, we need to ask for more information.
If you have an NSN and we already hold enough information about your education to determine whether you’re eligible, you don’t need to do much. You’ll only need to enter your NSN to enable us to provide you with confirmation of your eligibility. We check your NSN against a Yes/No/Unknown database. If you are eligible, the database will also specify the date you started fees-free tertiary education (for example 2018 starter or 2019 starter). We collect a log of each NSN entered into the website, and the timestamp of that entry.
If you have an NSN but we don’t hold enough information to determine whether you’re eligible, we’ll ask you some questions to help us determine whether you are eligible. In that case we’ll ask you about:
- your citizenship, resident or refugee or protected person status;
- whether you were enrolled in a secondary school in 2017, 2018 or 2019 or, if not, whether you’ve done 0.5 or less equivalent full time tertiary education (60 points / credits) at NZQF level 3 or above; and
- whether, after 1 January 2018, you have achieved any credits as part of any industry training programme that consisted of fewer than 120 credits.
If we’ve asked you these questions and you meet the eligibility criteria, we’ll ask for your name, address, email address, date of birth, occupation (if any) and mobile phone number and you will be asked to complete a statutory declaration in front of a person described in section 9(1) of the Oaths and Declarations Act 1957 (such as a solicitor, barrister, Justice of the Peace, court registrar or MP) and return it to us. We ask you to do this because it’s important for us to know with confidence that you satisfy the eligibility criteria.
If you need to answer the additional questions to help us determine whether you’re eligible, and your answers indicate that you are eligible, a log associated with your name will be generated that records your “yes” answers to the relevant eligibility criteria.
If we determine that you are not eligible or have consumed some or all of your fees-free tertiary education entitlement and you appeal our decision, we may ask for more information to support your appeal case, such as a medical certificate or verification of your identity.
If you ask us a question relating to your eligibility or consumption of your fees-free tertiary education entitlement, we will hold a record of that communication, and the information you provide.
Information we collect from the tertiary education organisation at which you are enrolled
If we determine that you meet the eligibility criteria, we will collect some information about the courses you are enrolled in from each tertiary education organisation at which you are enrolled to determine whether you are enrolled in an eligible course, and if so, the fees-free entitlement you have consumed. In particular, we will collect:
- the code of the qualification you are enrolled in;
- the course(s) code(s) you are enrolled in;
- the start and end dates of the courses you are enrolled in;
- course equivalent full-time student (EFTS) factor;
- if you withdraw, the date you withdrew; and
- the amount of fees-free funding you have consumed.
We collect this information from the tertiary education organisation at which you are enrolled as we consider that it's not reasonably practical to collect the information directly from you.
Why we ask for your information
We collect your personal information for the following purposes::
- to help us check or determine whether you’re eligible for some of your tertiary education fees-free;
- if you are, to tell you that and the year you started fees-free tertiary education;
- if you answer the additional questions mentioned above and are eligible, to improve our understanding of who is eligible;
- to help us determine how much of your fees-free entitlement (if any) you have consumed;
- if you appeal our decision, to help us check or determine whether or not you are eligible, or the amount of your fees-free entitlement that you have consumed;
- to help some other agencies perform functions relating to tertiary education (we mention these below under “Who will have access to your personal information”); and
- to help us verify your identity.
How we use your information
We use the personal information you provide for the purposes above.
If you have an NSN and provide it, we’ll check your NSN against our existing records to determine whether we’re able to say, without more, that you’re eligible. If you’re eligible, this website will tell you that.
If we need to ask you the additional questions mentioned above and your answers indicate that you’re eligible, we’ll also use the information to update our records, including the records of those individuals who are eligible for some of their tertiary education fees-free. Doing this helps us to inform tertiary education organisations of all the students we know about who are eligible for some of their tertiary education fees-free.
If you appeal our decision, we will use your supporting information to determine whether you are eligible, or to determine your consumption of your fees-free tertiary education entitlement.
Who we may disclose your personal information to
We’ll have access to the personal information you provide.
We may disclose your personal information to Inland Revenue, the Ministry of Social Development (StudyLink) and the Ministry of Education to help them perform their functions relating to student allowances, student loans and administration of other aspects of the tertiary education sector. In addition, we may disclose it to Statistics New Zealand in connection with the statistical and research functions they perform under the Statistics Act 1975.
We’ll also disclose the information we have on the eligibility of students we know about to tertiary education organisations so that, if you’re eligible, you won’t be charged fees to the extent they’re covered by the fees-free scheme.
How we protect your information
If you enter personal information into this website, it’ll be encrypted while in transit from your browser to the hosting environment we use in Auckland. The hosting provider is not permitted to access or use the information for any purpose other than managing this website for us. If you’ve answered the additional questions to help us determine your eligibility, we’ll store the information you’ve provided in secure and access-controlled systems we use to help us administer parts of the tertiary education sector.
In our appeals process, the information you provide as evidence to support your case is restricted to use by members of our Appeals team, the Supporting Governance Committee, the Exceptional Case Board, and the TEC CEO.
We collect non-identifying statistical information about all visits to this website. Those statistics allow us to assess the number of visitors to different sections of the website, identify what information is of interest, monitor system performance and help us make the website more useful to visitors.
Cookies are small text files that are placed in your browser by the websites you visit. They are widely used to help users navigate websites efficiently, to perform certain functions on the sites and/or to provide site owners with information about how their sites are used.
Access and correction
You have the right to request access to, and correction of, the personal information we hold about you. To exercise that right, or to ask us anything else in relation to your privacy, please contact us:
The Privacy Officer
Tertiary Education Commission
PO Box 27-048
We may require proof of your identity before being able to provide you with any personal information.
If you have a privacy concern
If you're not satisfied with our response to any privacy-related concern you may have, you can contact the Privacy Commissioner.
Office of the Privacy Commissioner
PO Box 10094
Freephone: 0800 803 909 (NZ only)
Phone: +64 4 474 7590
Fax: +64 4 474 7595
Email: [email protected]