New Zealand launches drive to attract more international students

by Ray Clancy on October 15, 2013

A package of new initiatives to encourage more international students to study in New Zealand have been announced by the government.

Changes will make it easier for some international students to work during their studies and there will be streamlined visa processing in partnership with selected high quality education establishments.

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Changes will make it easier for international students in New Zealand to work during their studies

Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce said that providing quality courses and degrees for overseas students will be the priority and the lowest quality providers will be prevented from enrolling international students.

Legislative changes will also strengthen the application of the Code of Practice for Pastoral Care of International students, and set up a new disputes resolution scheme to resolve contract disputes.

‘International education is very important to New Zealand. It contributes $2.6 billion a year to our economy and 28,000 jobs for New Zealanders, plus it helps build strong linkages with the countries that are our trading future,’ he explained.

‘Competition for international students is intensifying around the world, and it’s important we stay competitive. The amendments to rules around international students working while they are studying will bring New Zealand in line with policies of similar countries, especially Australia, and make it easier for students to choose to study here,’ he added.

Under the changes, students studying full time will be allowed to work during all their scheduled course breaks rather than just the summer months, doctoral and research masters students will be able to work full time, and English language students will be allowed to work part time during their study.

‘The changes are expected to bring a net increase of jobs for New Zealanders. Any additional work taken up by the students is more than offset by the growth in the international education industry and the jobs it provides,’ Joyce pointed out.

Immigration New Zealand will no longer grant visas to students seeking to enrol at the few providers in Category 4, the lowest status granted by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA).

‘While we want more students to come to our shores to study, our focus has to be on providing them with the highest quality education New Zealand has to offer,’ said Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse.

Immigration New Zealand will also be trialing an industry partnership initiative with New Zealand universities and a small group of polytechnics and private training providers. Providers that are part of the initiative will be able to offer streamlined and prioritised visa processing, and in return will be accountable for the immigration outcomes of their international students.

‘This should be a win-win partnership that incentivises education providers to strive for high standards, select their students carefully and take more responsibility for good study outcomes,’ Woodhouse explained.

‘We will initially be trialing this model as a pilot in 2014. The intention is that it would be rolled out to all of the top quality Category One providers in parallel with the new Immigration ONLINE system in 2015,’ he added.

Joyce also announced legislative amendments designed to enhance the protections afforded international students in New Zealand, by establishing a new legal framework for enforcing the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students.

‘It is important that New Zealand remains vigilant to the risks of unscrupulous agents and providers. We have already made a number of legislative changes to deal with the bad apples in the system, and the changes will further strengthen New Zealand’s regulatory framework. It is crucial that we regulate clearly and consistently this very important industry for New Zealand,’ he pointed out.

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