Compulsory student services fees

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Last updated 17 January 2017
Last updated 17 January 2017

Tertiary education organisations (TEOs) can charge domestic students a compulsory student service fee (CSSF) to help fund the costs of delivering student services.

CSSFs are regulated through a Ministerial Direction (PDF, 35 Kb) that sets a clear and transparent framework for TEOs and students to work together to set the fee, resource and provide these services.

It is intended to:

  • increase the involvement of students in CSSF decision-making
  • ensure transparency in the setting and administration of the fee
  • set clear limits on what services should be funded through the fee 
  • ensure that appropriate limits are set on the amount that providers may charge.

If your TEO is charging a CSSF to help fund the costs of delivering student services, then you need to comply with the provisions set out in the Ministerial Direction.

These relate to:

Decision-making in consultation with students

Students should be involved in decisions about all aspects of the CSSF. TEOs must engage with their students to determine the maximum CSSF level, the types of services to be delivered, and to seek feedback on those services.

Accounting for the use of CSSFs

TEOs must either hold CSSFs in a separate bank account, or ensure that all income and expenditure associated with CSSFs is separately accounted for in their accounting system.

Reporting on CSSFs

Tertiary education institutions (TEIs) are to report on CSSFs in their annual reports, and registered private training establishments (PTEs) are required to provide a written report to their students (and must send the Ministry of Education (MoE) a copy each year).

The categories of student services that can be funded out of the fee

To help TEOs comply with the Ministerial Direction, we have published a guide on the requirements and an example (PDF, 355 Kb) of good practice reporting by one TEO.

Example of good practice reporting Compulsory student services fees guide (PDF, 1.8 Mb)


A new funding condition will apply from the beginning of 2017

The Minister responsible for tertiary education determined that, from 2017, it will be a condition of Student Achievement Component (SAC)  funding for TEOs that charge a CSSF to publish certain information on their websites.

The intent is to increase the transparency of CSSF processes and student involvement in decision-making processes. TEOs must provide the following information on their websites:

  • core CSSF information for the year, including the amount charged per equivalent full-time student (EFTS) and a description of the student services the fee supports
  • a description of the current year’s CSSF decision-making process, including a description of how the current CSSF level and the services offered were determined, how consultation with students occurred and what the decisions were
  • a description of how students can be involved in CSSF decisions for the following year, how TEOs propose to consult with their students and what issues might be considered.

This information must be displayed prominently on your website, in an accessible section on CSSFs, from the beginning of 2017.

Have a question?

For information or advice on CSSFs and your obligations, please contact us by email: