Zero-fee courses

Zero fees may, but do not automatically, breach the inducement policy.  For the purposes of this policy, 'zero fees' includes nominal fees (for example $1).

The deciding factors in assessing new proposals are:

  • as for discounts and scholarships, adopting zero fees to increase access of particular groups of learners identified in the Tertiary Education Strategy (TES) is likely to be acceptable. As a guide, a TEO would need to clearly identify the particular group of learners within its regional catchment area and do one of the following, or similar:
    • Limit the zero fee offer to such students if it were likely that a significant number of students outside the particular group would enrol
    • Effectively confine the course to the particular group of learners, for example by the course content, design or location
    • Demonstrate that its student base is specifically drawn from the particular group of learners. Example: a TEO campus' catchment is primarily Maori/Pacific or of low socio-economic profile, and a zero-fee course aimed at their needs is proposed.
  • whether the purpose of the zero fees is to promote the goals of the TES or simply to compete with other TEOs for students - see Inducement policy principles.
    Zero-fee offers will be looked at with particular scrutiny in the case of a TEO entering another TEO's region and targetting the same learner groups with a zero-fee offer.
    Example: a TEO seeking to provide zero-fee courses in a low socio-economic area to increase access is likely to be acceptable; a TEO seeking to offer zero-fee courses in an area well supplied by a number of TEOs with that type of provision is likely to be unacceptable.

We have also allowed targeting school leavers to retain them in the TEO's region, in line with a regional strategy. Such strategies are generally supported by the TES.

Using introductory zero fees to establish a course is in breach of the policy.

  • Last changed: 27 October 2009
  • Last verified: 7 February 2011