A National Government would be working hard to safely return tertiary international students back to New Zealand as quickly as possible, Deputy Leader and Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye and National’s Tertiary Education spokesperson Dr Shane Reti say.
“The Government is moving too slow when it comes to opening up our international students market. If it doesn’t move quickly, New Zealand is at risk of missing out on international students for the second half of 2020 which will cost the economy hundreds of millions of dollars,” Ms Kaye says.
“International students contribute about $5 billion a year to the New Zealand economy and support around 50,000 jobs. Most of this money doesn’t come from tuition fees but rather from spending on accommodation, food, tourism, entertainment and living costs, all of which support Kiwi businesses and Kiwi workers.
“New Zealand education providers have suffered a significant financial loss. Some estimates suggest our universities could see a combined loss of up to $400 million in revenue a year if they are not able to bring in international students. And that doesn’t include the hit polytechnics and Private Training Establishments (PTE) are also taking,” Ms Kaye says.
“This hurts the quality of education that can be provided to New Zealanders as it means there is less to pay for staff, facilities, research or to allow lower tuition fees for domestic students,” Dr Reti says.
“National is releasing our policy which would see a health check prior to departure and two lots of testing when entering and exiting quarantine in New Zealand and would be paid for by the students.
“We have also proposed that education providers would handle quarantine procedures. Their health protocols will need to be approved and audited by Ministry of Health officials. These processes are robust and more rigorous in our view than existing processes for returning New Zealanders.
“This policy may evolve depending on how technology evolves around testing. We also expect as country border arrangements are implemented that some international students may come through those arrangements.
“Bringing back international students is incredibly important for our universities, polytechnics and PTEs. A National Government would be working hard to ensure we had international students back in the country as quickly as possible so our education sector can stay afloat,” Dr Reti says.