When an education provider receives a Verification of Study (VoS) request, they must respond to this. This is called a VoS response. A VoS response confirms to StudyLink the student’s enrolment details (where available).
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What a VoS response is
A VoS response must provide all enrolment details that commence on or after the VoS Study Start Date.
A VoS response will confirm the enrolment details of the individual student, not the entire programme. While the programme may have set dates, fees and EFTS, a student may have different dates, fees or EFTS for a number of reasons. The VoS response needs to contain the specific details of that student's enrolment details.
For example, the student may be studying a programme that runs from 1 February 2013 to 30 November 2013 and has 1.2 EFTS. However, a student may only be studying part of this programme from 13 March 2013 to 30 November 2013 and doing 1 EFTS (for whatever reason). StudyLink wants the details of the student – 13 March 2013 to 30 November 2013 and 1 EFTS.
Contents of a VoS response
A VoS response contains pre-filled information from the VoS request. This includes the student’s name, student ID number, date of birth, VoS Study Start Date and Client Number.
The education provider may be required to submit the following information in their VoS response:
- Student ID number
- Enrolment Status
- PC Code
- Start and end dates
- Fees (if requested)
- Vacation break information
More information about these areas is below.
Student ID number
Where a Student ID is not present in the VoS request, or the Student ID that is supplied is incorrect, the education provider can enter this into the VoS response and it will be updated in StudyLink’s system when the VoS response is applied.
Education providers can select the following from the status field:
- Blank – this field should be blank where the education provider is providing confirmed enrolment details.
- Not known – this is where the student on the VoS request is not known at all to the education provider.
- Unregistered – the student on the VoS request is known to the education provider, but they do not have an enrolment for the period that StudyLink is requesting.
- Pending – the student is enrolling for the period that StudyLink is requesting, but they have not fully completed their enrolment.
- Mismatch – some of the student's details on the VoS request do not match the details that the education provider holds.
- Withdrawn – the student has withdrawn from the study period that has been requested.
Where any status other than ‘blank’ is selected, no other information needs to be entered in the VoS response. For more information on what is deemed to be a mismatch, see the VoS matches section below.
A programme code (PC Code), is usually made up of six characters – usually two letters, and followed by four numbers. This is the code that is approved by the Ministry of Education (MoE), not the internal code that some education providers use to advertise programmes to students. The full programme code must be used. If the PC Code is PC1234, then this field in the VoS response must say PC1234, not just 1234.
The PC Code cannot contain any spaces either before, during, or after the typed code. This will cause the PC Code to be considered unrecognised.
For the student to be considered as enrolled on an active programme, the start date of the student's study must be on or after the TEC approval date for the programme. If the start date of the student's study is prior to the TEC approval date the student will be considered as enrolled on an inactive programme, regardless of whether the end date of the study is after the approval date, and the application will be declined.
A separate VoS response should be provided for each programme of study (PC Code) starting on or after the VoS Study Start Date. For example, if a student is studying a Bachelor of Arts and a Diploma in Sport (and this is not an approved conjoint programme) then the education provider must send back a VoS response with two separate lines, one for each programme code.
A confirmed VoS response must contain valid study start and end dates.
The study start date would generally be a Monday, and the study end date would generally be a Sunday.
The study dates that are reported must be the study dates of that student – not the generic study dates of that programme (if these are different). The study start date is the start date of the earliest commencing paper that the student is enrolled in, and the study end date is the end date of the latest finishing paper that the student is enrolled in.
Unless the programme has been approved by the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) as being over 52 weeks in length, the period between the start and end date must be no more than 52 weeks.
A VoS response will be deemed to be invalid, and will not apply, if one of the following issues occurs with the study dates:
- The start date is greater than the end date on the VoS.
- A segment start date is greater than a segment end date (see the ‘segments’ section below for more information).
- The vacation start date is greater than the vacation end date.
- The programme Start Date in the VoS response is greater than one calendar month prior to the VoS Study Start Date in application screen.
It is important that these dates are reported correctly. Where these dates are not reported correctly, the student may be incorrectly paid for periods where they were not entitled. When this happens, the student may incur an overpayment, and StudyLink may ask the education provider to meet the costs of the student’s overpayment where it is deemed that the cause of the overpayment was due to the incorrect information in the VoS response.
A VoS response with fees information must always include Total Compulsory Fees and the amount of Fees Requested for the study period.
The Total Compulsory Fees are the total of all fees for the particular student, for the reported programme(s), and only for the study period(s) listed in the VOS response.
The compulsory fees component of the loan comprises all the fees the student must pay to the provider for enrolment/registration in their chosen course. This includes:
- Tuition fees.
- Examination fees.
- Student health levies.
- Course-related costs that are common to all students.
- All students enrolling in a hairdressing programme must have a particular kit that the education provider will supply. This would be included as a compulsory fee.
- All students must have an appropriate hairdressing kit, but are free to purchase this from wherever they wish. This would not be included as a compulsory fee, as this cost would not be common to all students on this course (as they may get different kits from different sources, for different prices).
It does not include penalty fees for late enrolment/registration or other administrative fees or special charges, which would not normally be incurred by every student enrolling or registering in the same programme of study. It also does not include Student Association Membership fees.
The Fees Requested are the total requested fees for the particular student, for the reported programme(s), and only for the study period(s) listed in the VOS response. It may be that these amounts are different – for example, where the student has already paid some of their fees.
StudyLink can only pay up to the total fees amount (i.e. it cannot pay more than this amount).
If there are multiple programmes of study returned in a VoS response, each programme code in the VoS response MUST have the same Total Compulsory Fees and Fees Requested. This needs to be the totals of all the programmes. For example, the student is studying both a Bachelor of Law (fees of $5000) and a Bachelor of Science (fees of $4000) at the same time. The Total Compulsory Fees and the Total Requested Fees must be $9000 on both lines of study. If this is not done, and each programme contains only the fees for that programme, then the full fees amount will not be paid.
The VoS response will be deemed invalid, or may not be able to be used correctly if:
- the VoS response has negative Total Compulsory Fees
- the VoS response has a negative Fees Requested amount
- the Fees Request in a VoS response is greater than the Total Compulsory Fees
- there are Fees Requested but no Total Compulsory Fees.
In some of these cases, the VoS may not be able to be used at all. In other cases the study information can be used, but the fees information would not be able to be used.
EFTS (Equivalent Full-Time Students)
EFTS must be reported in a confirmed VoS. This cannot be left blank or set to zero.
The EFTS reported must be the EFTS of the individual student – not the EFTS approved by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) for the programme that they are studying.
For example, NZQA may have approved a Certificate in English to be 1.2 EFTS over a 36-week period and consisting of 10 papers. If a student is only taking three of these papers, then the EFTS value in the VoS response needs to be the equivalent of these three papers – for example, 0.375 EFTS, rather than the 1.2 EFTS of the programme.
The EFTS reported need to be the total of the papers that the student is studying for that period, for that programme.
Where the student has a vacation period that is longer than three weeks (21 days), the start and end date of this vacation period must be reported in the Vacation Date fields.
The start date should generally be the Monday following the last day of attendance, with the end date being the Sunday before the course recommences.
It is important that these vacation periods are reported as students are not entitled to receive Student Allowance or Student Loan living costs payments where the vacation break is over three weeks in length. Where these dates are not reported, the student may be incorrectly paid when they are not entitled. When this happens, the student may incur an overpayment, and StudyLink may ask the education provider to meet the costs of the student’s overpayment where it is deemed that the cause of the overpayment was due to the incorrect information in the VoS response.
There can be a maximum of two vacation periods per VoS response.
Where the student does not have any vacation periods that exceed three weeks – these fields can be left blank. Breaks of less than three weeks do not need to be declared on the VoS response.
Where an education provider offers component based study (e.g. semester or modular enrolments) they can provide details of the applicant’s study for each segment.
This information is recorded in the ‘segments’ section of the VoS response. There can be a maximum of four components per line of VoS response.
Segmented study can help StudyLink where the overall EFTS are part-time. The individual segments allow StudyLink to identify any periods of study where the student could be full-time. For example, the VoS returned may show that the student is part-time over the full year, but the segments show that the student is full-time for second semester.
When reporting segments, the study start and end dates must be supplied – as well as the EFTS value for that segment.
The start date of any segment must not be prior to the start date for the total study period. The end date of any segment must not be after the end date for the total study period. The total of all EFTS for the segments must equal the total EFTS for the VoS response.
Segments can overlap. For example, there may be a full year segment, and also a separate segment that reports only one semester.
Overall study period 10 Jan 2013 – 13 Nov 2013 0.8 EFTS
Segment One 10 Jan 2013 – 24 Jun 2013 0.5 EFTS
Segment Two 25 Jun 2013 – 13 Nov 2013 0.125 EFTS
Segment Three 10 Jan 2013 – 13 Nov 2013 0.175
In this example, the EFTS of all three segments add up to the EFTS of the overall study period. The start and end dates of the segments do not go over the start and end dates of the overall period.
The first two segments show the study details for semester one and semester two. The third segment would be a paper that is a full year paper (i.e. cannot be split into a semester).
Segments should only be used for a period where the student is actually studying. A ‘zero EFTS’ segment should not be used where the student is not studying for a period of time. Instead, that period of time should simply not be reported at all within the VoS response.
Withdrawn VoS responses
When submitting a withdrawn VoS response, no further information is required on the VoS response (e.g. study dates, EFTS, programmes of study etc.). However, it is recommended that this additional information is supplied to help StudyLink better determine the students correct eligibility.
Where a withdrawn VoS response has an end date, the withdrawal is effective from the end date provided in the VoS response.
It is StudyLink’s preference that an end date is reported, as this provides a more accurate withdrawal date for the student. Where a withdrawn VoS response contains both a start and end date, the end date used (i.e. the withdrawal date) cannot be prior to the study start date. The period between the study start and end dates cannot be longer than 52 weeks in length.
If no end date is provided, or the end date is in the future, the withdrawal is effective from the date the VoS response is received by StudyLink.
Youth Guarantee programmes
Students aged 16- 17 and studying a Youth Guarantee programme may be eligible for the Student Allowance. However, students aged 18-19 may also be eligible to receive the living costs and course-related costs components of the Student Loan. Currently, education providers need to set up a separate PC Code for Youth Guarantee programmes with TEC for each age range. This PC Code usually begins with CO, and will determine which forms of assistance can be granted by StudyLink.
This can mean that one course might have two different PC Codes – for example, a Certificate in English might have PC1234 for Student Allowance Component (SAC) funded students (eligible for both Student Allowance and Student Loan) and CO9876 (eligible for Student Allowance only). The education provider needs to ensure that they are returning the correct CO code for Youth Guarantee students.
Where the CO code has yet to be set up, or cannot be used, and the education provider receives a VoS request for a Youth Guarantee student, they should contact StudyLink to discuss how best to respond.