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Understand our Language


An adjudicator is an independent expert in the legal system who is experienced in resolving disputes. They resolve the dispute by listening to the learner and the tertiary education provider and then determining the outcome.

Agreement to use Talk - Meet - Resolve

The Agreement to use Talk – Meet – Resolve is the agreement that everyone must sign before we can start our consensus based dispute resolution process. It provides the right framework for us to start working together to help identify and resolve the issues in the dispute.


Tertiary Education Providers have to follow a code of practice that was made by the Minister for Education. This is called the The Education (Pastoral Care of Tertiary and International learners) Code of Practice 2021 but it is often called "the Code".  


A Conciliator is an independent expert in the legal system who is experienced in resolving disputes. They have been involved in thousands of disputes and they can rely on this experience and help the parties reach an understanding of each other's perspectives and the possible ways to resolve the issues. 

Contractual dispute

A contractual dispute is about what was agreed between the learner and the provider and whether the people have done what they agreed to do. This is generally set out in a a written agreement between the learner and the provider and the dispute can include what was written down and also what is implied by the agreement.

Domestic Tertiary Student

Domestic Tertiary Student has a special legal meaning. It includes all citizen and residents and quite a few other categories of students set out in the Domestic Tertiary Students Notice 2022. If you have any doubt about whether you meet the criteria, please apply and we will determine whether you meet the requirements to use our service and if not, we will put you in touch with the International Students service.

Financial dispute

A financial dispute is about money and it generally involves a dispute about who has to pay (or refund) money to the other person.

International Student

An international student is someone who has enrolled with an education provider and is not a domestic student. Usually, this means someone who has travelled from another country to study and is not a New Zealand resident or citizen. There is a separate scheme for international students called iStudent Complaints.


A learner is a current or former domestic tertiary student enrolled by the provider, or someone who is intending to enroll (or is in the process of being enrolled) by the provider.

You can also access our service if you are acting with the consent of a learner and you are a legal guardian, parent, caregiver, or family group member of that learner.

Listen – Decide

Listen - Decide is our adjudication service. It provides a timely, informal and accessible process that is normally used following our conciliation process. This is sometimes described as a process where people are trying to convince someone else (an independent adjudicator) that they are right and the other person involved in the dispute is wrong. The adjudicator listens to what people have to say and then the adjudicator decides the outcome of the dispute. This decision then become the resolution of the dispute.


Resolution is the technical term for the outcome of our processes. This includes a resolution agreement reached using Talk – Meet – Resolve and the decision of the adjudicator if you use the Listen – Decide service.


The legal rules that govern our process are set out in the Education (Domestic Tertiary Student Contract Dispute Resolution Scheme) Rules 2021. These set out the process that everyone involved must follow. They are sometimes called "the rules".

Talk - Meet - Resolve

Talk – Meet – Resolve is a timely, informal and accessible service that we provide to Learners and Providers. It is a different way to resolve disputes than most people in New Zealand will have experienced. It is a process where the people in the dispute are actively involved in trying to find a resolution. This is the opposite to a process where the people are trying to convince someone else (an adjudicator or a judge) that they are right and the other person is wrong. If people reach agreement, this is written up and signed and becomes the resolution of the dispute.

Tertiary Education Provider

Tertiary Education Provider has as special legal meaning that includes Universities, Te Pūkenga—New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology, Wānanga, registered training establishments, government training establishments and any other person or body that provides or proposes to provide tertiary education funded by the government. If you are not sure whether you are a Tertiary Education Provider or whether your provider is a Tertiary Education Provider, then please contact us.