The Government of New Zealand announced a package of new policy initiatives this week designed to make New Zealand a more attractive study destination for international students.
Tertiary Education, Skills, and Employment Minister Steven Joyce and Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse together introduced several changes to visa requirements to make it easier for visiting students to work during their studies, strengthen quality standards for education providers, and enable streamlined visa processing via an interesting partnership with education providers. The changes will take effect in January 2014.
Immigration New Zealand will also pilot a new partnership with educators, under which up to 25 selected institutions and schools will be able to offer streamlined and prioritised visa processing to students they have judged as genuine and as having adequate financial resources to carry out their planned programme of study in New Zealand. In return, participating education providers will be accountable for those assessments with respect to the “immigration outcomes” of their students.
Beginning with an initial group of universities, polytechnics, and private training providers, the pilot will begin in 2014 with the expectation that it will be expanded to a wider field of quality education providers in 2015. Both the pilot and any subsequent expansion of this streamlined processing model will be implemented via New Zealand’s recently announced Immigration Online system, a new initiative that will allow many visas to be processed entirely online.
In a bid to strengthen quality standards, Immigration New Zealand will no longer approve visas for students intending to study with the few education providers classed as 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,” Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse says.
Finally, Minister Joyce also announced legislative amendments designed to enhance the protections afforded international students via a new legal framework designed to strengthen enforcement for the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students. As the Ministry of Education website notes, “The Code of Practice sets out what standards of care education providers must provide to international students living and studying in New Zealand. The framework covers minimum standards, good practice and student complaint procedures. All education providers with international students must sign up to the Code.”
The Minister said, “It is important that New Zealand remains vigilant to the risks of unscrupulous agents and providers. We have already made a number of legislative changes to deal with the bad apples in the system, and the changes I am announcing today will further strengthen New Zealand’s regulatory framework. It is crucial that we regulate clearly and consistently this very important industry for New Zealand.”