Immigration New Zealand (INZ) is hoping that changes to student visa requirements will make it easier for international students to work while studying, raise the quality standards required from education providers enrolling international students, and enable streamlined and prioritised visa processing in partnership with education providers.
The changes, which will take effect from January 2014, were announced yesterday by Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce and Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse.
Changes to working rights will allow more English language students studying at high-quality education providers to work part-time. The changes also provide full-time work rights during all scheduled holidays to international students who take a course of one academic year or more, and give unlimited work rights to international PhD and Masters by research students.
“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,” explained Minister Joyce. “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.”
However, INZ will no longer grant visas to students seeking to enrol at the few providers ranked 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 Minister Woodhouse.
Immigration New Zealand will also be trialling 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,” Mr Woodhouse added.