Domestic Tertiary Student news

Partners of New Zealanders to gain domestic tertiary student status for ILN ESOL and ACE

Partners of New Zealanders to gain domestic tertiary student status for ILN ESOL and ACE

Last updated 21 December 2021
Last updated 21 December 2021

From 1 January 2022, partners of New Zealand citizens or residents, on specific partnership visas, can enrol as domestic tertiary students in courses funded from the Intensive Literacy and Numeracy (ILN) English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Fund or Adult Community Education (ACE) Fund.

This change enables those partners to access funded ESOL provision to improve their English and support their future life in New Zealand. It covers partners of New Zealand citizens or residents on two specific visas (‘eligible learners’):

  • Partner of a New Zealander Work Visa; and
  • Partner of a New Zealander Visitor Visa.

Courses funded through ILN ESOL and ACE funding

The change is only for courses funded under the ILN ESOL and ACE, where ESOL is a priority. This includes all funded ACE provisions, and is not limited to only ESOL. ACE provisions support general literacy and numeracy learning (which is broader than ESOL) as well as te reo Māori as these types of learning can still support settlement in New Zealand.

The change does not extend to other ESOL provision funded through the Student Achievement Component (SAC) fund as the priority is to support those with very high ESOL needs to start accessing support at foundation levels.

Same fee entitlement as New Zealand citizens and residents

The funding and fee settings for eligible learners on these two specific partnership visas will be the same as for New Zealand citizens or residents. Learners enrolled in ILN ESOL courses are eligible for tuition fee funding, and courses should be fees-free to them. For ACE courses, the learner is eligible for tuition fee funding, and if any fees are charged to learners enrolling, they should be charged the same fees that a New Zealand citizen or resident would be charged.

Verification of learner eligibility

Tertiary Education Organisations will need to verify that learners are on one of the two specific partnership visas listed above for eligibility requirements. The verification process should be the same process undertaken for New Zealand citizens and residents.

The exact wording on the visa may differ from what is stated here. If you are unsure, education providers can email Immigration New Zealand to check if the migrant holds the right visa to access this funding. Please note that you should attach evidence from the migrant that they authorise INZ to release this information to you, such as a signed privacy waiver. Email INZ at

Learners to meet immigration visa conditions    

Learners can enrol in ILN ESOL or ACE courses if they meet Immigration New Zealand’s study conditions that apply to a Partner of New Zealander visa. The Partner of a New Zealander work or visitor visa has, as a standard condition, a limit on study to under three months. However, holders of these two visas can apply for a variation of conditions to their visa, that includes provision for part-time study for over three months. The learner should seek advice from Immigration New Zealand to ensure the study they undertake complies with their Partner of New Zealander visa conditions.