Indian students key in New Zealand's international education goals

While addressing the specific steps taken by the New Zealand government in addressing the concerns of Indian students, Andrew Craig, Manager of Immigration (Skills and Residence) Policy, Ministry of Business Innovation & Employment (MBIE) said that a specific pathway is being worked upon.

Abhishek NairUpdated: Monday, November 07, 2022, 11:16 AM IST
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1600 Indian students availed student visas to New Zealand in 2019 | Unsplash

Mumbai: Down Under has always been a lucrative option for Indian students who don’t find traditional options in the western hemisphere, which includes the US, UK, and Canada, as being kind to their pockets while also being difficult to get into. 

While both Australia and New Zealand boast of the advantage of having a strong international migrant community, which comprises thousands of students, the former has seen more success with 96,000 pupils from India entering the country, till July 2022.

Though New Zealand saw a 63% rise in first-time visas for Indian students, going up from 800 to 1600 visas, in 2019, the country’s Covid policies and closed borders made it difficult for many Indian students who faced a lot of challenges. 

EAM’s concerns about student visas to New Zealand

The matter was also raised by External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, who in his meeting with New Zealand’s counterpart Nanaia Mahuta in October 2022, raised the issues faced by Indian students due to the Covid pandemic and urged fairer treatment. "None of us had an easy time during COVID. But students perhaps took a bigger hit than most of us. So, I urged the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister to take a sympathetic view and understanding of students who enter and I was glad to be assured that they would approach the issue sympathetically," Jaishankar had said in the capital of Wellington.

While addressing the specific steps taken by the New Zealand government in addressing the concerns of Indian students, Andrew Craig, Manager of Immigration (Skills and Residence) Policy, Ministry of Business Innovation & Employment (MBIE) said that a specific pathway is being worked upon. 

“With the New Zealand border now fully open, people can now apply for work, student, visitor, and residence visas. The Minister of Immigration has heard from migrant community representatives, including the Indian community in New Zealand, about former visa holders who are offshore and have not returned. MBIE understands that the Minister is considering whether the current settings provide a sufficient pathway for the people within these groups,” Craig told the Free Press Journal.  

What are the changes in NZ post-study work visa policy? 

New Zealand recently announced a few changes to the post-study work visa regime, which includes curbs on work opportunities for international students coming on low-level courses unless they choose to work in courses related to Green List occupations. The Green List, which comprises highly skilled roles that are currently in shortage in New Zealand with recipients having a clear pathway to permanent residency, features occupations that cater mainly to medical, engineering, and Information technology fields.  

The country looks at the introduction of such changes as a way to protect migrants from exploitation, while also identifying the skills needed in New Zealand, according to Craig. 

“The changes to student visa settings were designed to address some unsustainable and concerning post-study working trends seen pre-COVID, including education being used as a pathway to the residence through lower-paid and lower-skilled jobs, which then put those migrants at risk of exploitation,” stated Craig, who highlighted that international students can also apply for an accredited employer work visa at the end of their study if they have an offer of skilled employment in New Zealand.

An accredited employer is an employer who is accredited by Immigration New Zealand (INZ) to employ persons under the Talent (Accredited Employer) work instructions. Students can work in New Zealand for an accredited employer who has offered them at least 30 hours of work a week, and they can also study for up to 3 months in any 12 months, or do any study required as part of their employment. A major benefit that students can avail if they have the qualifications and experience needed in the New Zealand labour market, according to Craig. 

Covid held back international education in NZ, but steps being taken 

New Zealand, which received praise worldwide for its Covid transmission policies aimed at stopping the community spread, also came under a tumultuous situation with international students who planned to study in the country. India, which is the second largest source of international students in New Zealand pursuing higher education in various disciplines such as information technology, hospitality, science, engineering, and architecture, was as a result severely affected by the same. 

To recover international education post-Covid-19, New Zealand is taking and more than willing to take certain steps which can put it back in a list featuring its Anglosphere counterparts, who are all benefiting from having Indian students as a major source of revenue to its universities. 

“The Government is promoting New Zealand’s international education brand through marketing and public relations activities to attract learners to study in New Zealand. The Government is also leveraging other diplomatic connections and travel activities to promote international education. Lastly, the Government is supporting education providers by providing information regarding visa processing time and key market trends,” New Zealand's Ministry of Education explained in a response.

The Kiwi homeland has approximately 2,50,000 persons of Indian origin and NRIs, a vast majority of which have made the country their permanent home.

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