Welcome to Mercury Advice

I will be posting periodically brief articles based on material published by the tertiary agencies and my own observations of working in the sector. Hopefully the articles will either amuse or inform you. Please let me know.

Let’s start with something that is, if anything, rather sad. You may be aware that it is possible to add a person to the National Student Index (NSI) and assign to them a gender of “U” for “Unknown”. Similarly Internal Affairs provides for three genders to be used on passports, with “X” being “Indeterminate/Unspecified”.

A problem arises when you have to report gender via the Single Data Return, which provides only for “M” and “F”. But, in order for a student record to be reported successfully through the SDR, the gender value in the SDR file must match the gender value in the NSI. If the values don’t match there will be an SDR validation error and you will not be able to submit your SDR.

When asked about the problem the Ministry of Education came up with a novel solution.

If the leaner prefers to use X [i.e. “U”] gender, as workaround providers will have to change the  learner’s gender to either Male or Female in NSI and also use the same gender accordingly for SDR reporting.”