NZ has been one of the world’s leading nations that has successfully battled the COVID-19 pandemic. The nation has only suffered 26 deaths to date, while COVID cases and casualties ravage the entire world. Despite the country trying to stay steady with its foolproof planning and execution, several sectors have been hit hard.
Amongst others, the academic sector has suffered a significant setback. Particularly international students, who come to New Zealand for educational and post-study career opportunities, have had a piece of bad luck. Another misfortune was for the domestic homestay providers across the country, who made some decent bucks by allowing international students to stay within their premises during their studies. During the pandemic, these homestay providers have majorly provided accommodation for local students. But the number of local students is a tiny fraction compared to the international guests housed each year.
While the Government and the Immigration Department have been extending specific visas, certain offshore visa processing has been stalled. So it is vital to gather a lot of relevant information regarding the Government’s decision to encourage the academic sector’s upsurge, especially the international academic sector.
Government Statistics and Predictions Concerning Academia
While the NZ universities are set to resume their courses from February, the student population will contain a tiny fraction of foreign nationals. Every year around this time, when the semesters resume, there are around 21,000 students on campus. Though the Universities New Zealand has provided this statistic, its chief executive Chris Whelan said there is no surety about those numbers for the 2021 academic session.
According to the UNZ chief executive, the present student population in the country is around 14,000. But a big chunk of those students will not continue their studies. Either they have wrapped up their courses in the summer or are awaiting departure. The worst-case scenario finds approximately 7000 to 8000 students continuing their academic pursuits. In comparison, the best-case scenario has 10,000 students doing the same.
The numbers given by INZ suggest that there are several international students beyond the higher education level who are still in the country. 8201 international students are going to schools. 7136 international students are stationed at private tertiary institutions, whereas 6662 are pursuing polytechnic education. Along with these, there are 3354 international students without recorded educational providers. This takes the tally of international students in NZ to 38,954.
Prime Minister Jacinda Arden has commented that the NZ border restrictions will continue for a large part of 2021. Hence, people in various professions and walks of life will be affected. She said that the country would continue ‘travel bubbles’ with Australia and a number of Pacific nations. But the Prime Minister expressed her concern over the pandemic situation across the rest of the world. She said that it would pose a significant threat to the health, security, and economy of the country if the border restrictions are entirely eased. So, they will continue to monitor the global situation with alertness.
The Government’s Decision Regarding International Students’ Return
The Government and the Immigration Department estimates more than 5000 international students stuck outside the country with valid student visas. As a result, the country is introducing a pilot program to bring the international students back gradually. The country’s borders will reopen in different stages, starting this April.
The month of April will witness 300 international students returning to their campuses for continuing education. There will be approximately 1000 international students spread across the year who will be returning on priority to their degree and post-graduate courses. The Immigration Department will also allow their families and depending members to return to NZ. If you too are one of those international students stuck outside NZ, you need to be aware of the latest announcements and regulations. Book a consultation with our NZ immigration experts to proceed to the next step.
Steps Taken to Welcome International Students Back in NZ
While the pandemic found the country barring international residents and non-citizens on an unprecedented level, the NZ Education Minister Chris Hipkins expressed concern over international student education. To help these unfortunate students continue their education, this pilot program will gradually bring in the grad-level and postgrad students.
International students aspiring to study in NZ have to cater to the living expenses in this country to get their visas approved. Earlier, the living expenses for international students were 15,000 NZD. But now it has been raised to 20,000 NZD. As a result, the international students should provide valid proof that they can support their studies and their stay in NZ by being able to afford these soaring expenses.
According to the Government’s decision, private tertiary institutions will contact the eligible international candidates. Students are not required to apply and press forward their candidature. But there are specific requirements if they want to continue their education in NZ. They need to hold a valid visa to study in 2019 or 2020, against their current academic qualifications. They also need to provide authentic proofs about their need to stay in NZ to complete their program.
It does not seem really bright and rosy. Still, the fact that the Government and its Immigration and Education Departments are working in tandem to revive the bland picture is confirmed. So pull up your socks and find your way back to NZ to continue your academic career!