1 The Tertiary Education Sector

Legal framework

The legal framework within which TEOs operate includes legislation specific to the education sector – the Education Act 1989 (the Act) – and legislation, such as the Crown Entities Act 2004 and State Sector Act 1988, that applies to government agencies.

Education Act 1989

The Act provides most of the legal framework and objectives for the tertiary sector. Section 159AAA states that the objective is to foster and develop a tertiary education system that:

(a) fosters, in ways that are consistent with the efficient use of national resources, high quality learning and research outcomes, equity of access, and innovation; and
(b) contributes to the development of cultural and intellectual life in New Zealand; and
(c) responds to the needs of learners, stakeholders, and the nation, in order to foster a skilled and knowledgeable population over time; and
(d) contributes to the sustainable economic and social development of the nation; and
(e) strengthens New Zealand’s knowledge base and enhances the contribution of New Zealand’s research capabilities to national economic development, innovation, international competitiveness, and the attainment of social and environmental goals; and
​(f) provides for a diversity of teaching and research that fosters, throughout the system, the achievement of international standards of learning and, as relevant, scholarship.

Section 160 adds that the Act aims to give TEIs:

... as much independence and freedom to make academic, operational, and management decisions as is consistent with the nature of the services they provide, the efficient use of national resources, the national interest, and the demands of accountability.

These two sections of the Act provide the context for the operation of TEI councils, their activities and decision-making.

The Act:

Other relevant legislationTop

Act Comments
Crown Entities Act 2004 The Crown Entities Act 2004 provides the framework for establishing, governing and operating Crown entities, and clarifies the relationship between the entities, their council members, their responsible Ministers and the House of Representatives. Although TEIs are regarded as a category of Crown entities, only a limited number of governance rules set out in the Crown Entities Act 2004 apply to them. These are listed in Schedule 4 of the Act.
Public Finance Act 1989 The Public Finance Act 1989 provides the framework within which TEIs must manage financial resources, safeguard public assets and satisfy accountability requirements. It also places restrictions on how TEIs can invest money.
State Sector Act 1988 The State Sector Act 1988 contains provisions for appointing the Chief Executive, negotiating employment conditions with TEI staff and the role of the State Services Commission in these matters. It defines the meaning of “good employer”; it sets out that the TEI council, which employs the Chief Executive, does not employ other TEI staff who are employed by the Chief Executive.
Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 The Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 contains provisions for notifying TEI council meetings, public access to meetings and requests for, and release of, meeting papers.
Industry Training
Act 1992
The Industry Training Act 1992 establishes ITOs as bodies empowered to set skill standards and administer industry-based training.
Employment Relations Act 2000 The Employment Relations Act 2000 contains provisions concerning the employer and employee relationship in all TEOs.

Acts that also apply to all TEOs include: