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New Zealand universities awaits government guidelines to welcome international students

23 July, 2020

Universities in New Zealand wait to welcome international students in 2021, but the government has thought otherwise. The universities want to make a quarantine model before September and await clear guidelines from the government. Universities New Zealand — the representative body for the country’s eight universities — chaired by Derek McCormack noted, “The universities have got good ideas and we’re in a position where we need to wait on [the] government to engage with us on what the regulations would be to satisfy everybody that it would be safe to bring in international students.” He also added that ‘international students pose less risk than returning New Zealanders because they can be chosen from countries with few COVID-19 cases and will be deported if they break quarantine’, reported the study-international.

There is however a lack of clarity for many students who look forward to making begin their studies in September. Earlier the government planned to allow international students only in the last half of next year. In May, Chris Hipkins, New Zealand education minister, said that ‘the government is looking to allow international students to return to New Zealand if they can be quarantined safely’, quoted by the New Zealand Herald. But in later June there were talks of making Queenstown of Otago into a ‘quarantine town’ for the international students who would fly in for 14 days. According to Penny Simmonds, chief executive of Southern Institute of Technology, “Queenstown has got the hotels free, it’s got the space free, it’s got an international airport — it’s a logical site to be bringing international students into for quarantine”, reported by the study international portal. It was also decided that the colleges and universities will run these facilities but the international students will pay for it. However, both universities and the government need public trust.

However, there is a strong campaign for the return of international students in the country. Many universities, like their counterparts in the west, earn a huge sum from the international students. Reports in the past have suggested that these universities are lobbying with the government on behalf of the students.

Tertiary Education Union (TEU) president Michael Gilchrist said noted that even without the international students this year the universities can cope but they have "too great a dependence on international students. There's a deficit in our domestic student funding, we believe that has to be made up. There has to be some strategy to reduce the dependence on international students ... and we are currently trying to get a sector-wide forum to work on the longer-term strategic issues." According to the Stuff portal, ‘the number of foreign students varies across the sector, from the University of Otago, which has about 14 percent of its intake coming from overseas, to Lincoln University with 48 percent.’ "Otago has some quite prudent strategic parameters around international students, that are worth other institutions looking at. They have a rule that they can't exceed 15 percent and not more than 25 percent can be from one country.”, noted Gilchrist.



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