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.
27 October 2009
7 February 2011