Universities welcome much-needed earlier border reopening
11 May 2022 | news
Aotearoa New Zealand’s eight universities look forward to welcoming back their international students after today’s announcement that the final part of the Government’s staged border reopening will be brought forward from October to 31 July.
“This announcement brings much-needed certainty for our existing and prospective international students after an anxious and stressful two years stranded outside the country because of border restrictions,” says Universities New Zealand – Te Pōkai Tara Chief Executive Chris Whelan.
“They can now be sure, Immigration New Zealand visa processing capacity permitting, that they will be in New Zealand and at their chosen university in time for the start of the 2023 academic year and in some cases to study later in 2022.
“Universities have long argued for an earlier border reopening for international students so are delighted by this announcement.”
Mr Whelan says universities are also pleased the Government’s simultaneous immigration rebalance announcement included the continuation of three-year post-study work rights for degree-qualified international graduates.
“We would like to acknowledge too that the Government listened to the sector in setting the updated cost-of-living funds required by international students at $20,000 a year rather than any higher, which would have been difficult for students.”
The sector is now awaiting tomorrow’s announcement of the details of the Government’s international education strategy refresh.
“It was good to hear Minister of Education Chris Hipkins say today the Government is committed to going out to the world to sell New Zealand international education and the attractive offering it is. We look forward to hearing more about this and the wider international education strategy refresh.”
Pre-Covid, universities and the other international education sub-sectors were New Zealand’s fourth largest export market, contributing around $5.1 billion in economic activity.
Although international university student enrolments were at a better-than-expected 72% of pre-Covid levels in 2021, they are this year at around 30%.
“We have a lot of catching up to do,” says Mr Whelan. “Our main competitor countries, the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, reopened to international students last year.
“But New Zealand and our universities are attractive for international students. All the universities are ranked in the top 500 of the more than 18,000 universities around the world and we know New Zealand being so welcoming, inclusive and safe with a stunning natural environment is an important factor in our international students’ decision-making.”
International university students bring New Zealand many benefits both during and after their studies, including the irreplaceable contribution international postgraduates make to our research and innovation system, says Mr Whelan.
“Universities are excited and fully prepared to welcome our international students back,” he says.
“We have missed the vibrancy and diversity they add to our communities, both on campus and off. We look forward to seeing again the mixing of viewpoints and the enhanced learning experience that come when you bring people together from different cultures and backgrounds.”