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Allow New International Students To Start Their Study Offshore

Urgent Government measures are needed to keep the international education sector alive and functioning as the 2021 academic year rapidly approaches, says an organisation representing ten top private tertiary providers.

QTI believes Immigration New Zealand should immediately re-start issuing student visas, and new international students should qualify for normal post-study work rights even if they initially study online and offshore, QTI Executive Director Tommy Honey says.

“We need to allow providers to recruit, enrol and train international students remotely, on the understanding they can continue their studies in New Zealand without any impact on their study visas, once the borders can be safely opened,” Mr Honey says.

“This is hugely important to be able to protect the pipeline of international students, for when students can return to New Zealand. Some of our competitor countries are doing it, and if we don’t New Zealand risks missing out.

“Universities, polytechnics and private institutions have all been greatly affected by the closure of New Zealand’s borders in 2020,” Mr Honey says. “QTI is not arguing for a premature opening of the borders, but we are arguing for some common-sense steps now that will assist the recovery of the sector, without compromising safety.”

The proposal to recognise online study for post-study work right purposes is one of seven key cross-sector policy initiatives proposed by QTI specifically in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, as part of its pre-election manifesto.

“The pandemic has been causing massive economic dislocation here and around the world,” Mr Honey says. “Tertiary education has been one of the sectors heavily affected, and yet it will also be required to step up dramatically in the post-covid world to meet much greater training and retraining needs for New Zealanders. This can only be done from a position of certainty and financial security.”

QTI recommends the incoming Government ensures that current domestic student funding levels are maintained through 2021 so that all providers can respond to and meet the need for training next year and into the future, despite the uncertainty as to when and how that demand will arrive.

“We caution political parties against removing funding for training in particular sectors that have experienced Covid-19 induced slowdowns, like tourism, hospitality and accommodation services,” Mr Honey says.

“Any wholesale reduction in training places in those industries will greatly limit their ability to have a large enough workforce once borders fully reopen again. It would also make it difficult for current staff to upskill on a full or part-time basis while they are not working or working reduced hours.”

QTI endorses the increased flexibility shown by the Government to the training needs of New Zealanders by advancing the work on micro-credentials and reducing the minimum EFTS requirement for tuition subsidies from 0.35 to 0.042 EFTS. These are timely moves to allow rapid retraining to occur.

“We completely understand and accept the measures the government has had to take to fight this pandemic, even though they have fallen heavily on the tertiary education sector. We now need to look forward and take some practical steps that will keep the sector alive while we await the reopening of our borders.”

The full set of QTI policy proposals is contained in QTI’s 2020 election manifesto released today.

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