Coleman: No need to limit student entry
The New Zealand Herald, March 10, 2010
New Zealand has no plans to follow Britain in limiting the number of student visas, because the Government has taken action to close potential policy loopholes to stop people abusing the permit, says Immigration Minister Jonathan Coleman.
'There are no plans to limit student permits,' he said. 'The focus is on getting quality students for quality courses.'
Britain said last month that it would cut the number of visas to foreign students to try to stop people breaking the rules by working illegally.
The Weekend Herald reported that some international students were working as prostitutes in New Zealand.
Auckland City Central police area commander Andrew Coster said police were aware of such breaches of temporary permits, but they seemed isolated.
He said the district was working with the Ministry of Education and Immigration New Zealand to promote good outcomes for students who come to the country.
Immigration New Zealand said 134 student permits were revoked last year for students who failed to meet conditions and policy, but would not provide details about the breaches.
'Immigration's role is a fine balancing act, providing a legitimate stream of overseas students to support the export education industry and balance that against the risk of system abuse,' says Dr Coleman.
He said that last year, Immigration and the Ministry of Education learned that students changing courses with ease were becoming an issue.
A provision in the Education Act 1989 allowed students to obtain a refund of most of their tuition fees if they withdrew within seven days of their course start date, and this was affecting the integrity of the immigration system and reputation of the education sector.
The reasons for the change must now be considered when a new permit application is made, he said.
Full-time students can apply to work for up to 20 hours a week during the year, and full time during Christmas and New Year if their courses are for at least 12 months.
$2b earner draws more students for more courses
By Lincoln Tan
The New Zealand Herald, March 8, 2010
Export education has grown to become New Zealand's fifth biggest export earner, worth more than $2 billion a year to the economy.
It was once almost exclusively an English language study industry, with students coming mainly from Japan. But today, students come from all over the globe to take courses ranging from business to massage therapy and sports.
Education New Zealand says growth has been especially evident in the past 10 years.
In 1999, there were 8233 first-time student visas issued. Last year there were 30,726.
Immigration New Zealand says it approved nearly 73,000 student permits last year – but that does not include students who arrived on a visitor's permit for courses three months and shorter, which often include English language studies.
Despite the world recession, the industry continued to grow, generating $597 million in tuition fees paid directly to educational institutions, $242 million for the Government's coffers through taxes, and about $1.3 billion for local businesses.
Last year, the industry generated employment for 45,200 New Zealanders.
This was because of the sector's 'counter-cyclical nature', said Education New Zealand chief executive Robert Stevens.
'In a recession when jobs are scarce, people turn to further education to improve their skills or delay entering a competitive employment market.'
Traditionally, students came from China, South Korea and Japan – but numbers from these countries are falling. The industry was hit hard in 2002-2003 when crimes committed on and by Chinese students in New Zealand made headlines back home, leading to a sharp decline in students coming here.
However, diversifying the student market has led to continued growth.
Last year, Immigration NZ approved 8200 students from India to study here – a 42 per cent increase from the previous year.
Benefits of foreign students often overlooked
By Lincoln Tan
The New Zealand Herald, March 9, 2010
International students are worth $2 billion annually to the economy.
'If you want to put it crudely, they are seen only as cash cows,' said Professor Manying Ip, a professor of Asian studies at Auckland University.
'New Zealanders' attitudes towards international students today is very different to the days when we had the Colombo Plan, when they really wanted to share the benefits of New Zealand education with the developing world.'
International students support 45,000 jobs, pay more than $600 million in direct fees and the travel and tourism industry further benefits from their visiting friends and families.
Professor Ip says the value of international students are being equated by schools to getting a new IT room or a swimming pool, rather than any of the non-monetary benefits they bring.
Even local students feel uncomfortable in the presence of too many international students, another academic says.
Last year, head of Elam Art School Jonathan Mane-Wheoki, said: 'I know from my time in Canterbury, you can have too many international students and the Pakeha students take flight.'
Professor Ip says although her colleague's comments were regrettable, it was not an unknown kind of feeling.
'I try to convince my colleagues of the other benefits, like international connections and cultural awareness, to a university in an isolated country like New Zealand, but it has been a struggle.'
This year, Auckland University has 908 new international students, who will be paying tuition fees of more than $20 million.
Vice-chancellor Stuart McCutcheon says it is grossly inaccurate to say international students are being treated as cash cows.
Dr Christopher Tremewan, the university's international pro vice-chancellor, said issues sometimes arose because professors failed to distinguish between international students and immigrant students, who did not have to take strict language tests to enter the university and often struggled with the English language.
Professor McCutcheon said international students were valued and helped to build overseas connections.
The university's international graduates remained keen to maintain contact.
The Institute of International Education ranked New Zealand as having the 15th largest international student population in the world.
But Massey University sociologist Paul Spoonley says New Zealand would be ranked number one if the calculation was based on population.
'It is sometimes unfortunate that students are being treated here more as paying customers rather than guests in the country,' Professor Spoonley said.
'International students are changing the culture and look of New Zealand classrooms, and it's really up to us whether to see that as being a problem or an opportunity.'
Embracing international students would help broaden New Zealanders' horizons and help local students survive better in the new globalised environment.