Normal visa processing will restart in October 2022, allowing international students to enroll for studies in New Zealand in 2023.
From February 27, the New Zealand government has permitted vaccinated New Zealand citizens and visa-holders from Australia to re-enter the country. The government said the same while outlining a five-step approach for restoring borders, starting with New Zealanders returning from Australia and then moving on to the rest of the globe. In addition to the prior batches granted in 2020 and 2021, the government has allowed up to 5,000 international students to enter New Zealand from April 2022 to study for semester two this year.
Normal visa processing will restart in October 2022, allowing international students to enroll for studies in New Zealand in 2023. From July, students from visa-exempt nations such as Japan and South Korea will be able to visit New Zealand for up to three months on short stays.
Additionally, from March 14, students entering New Zealand through the border exemption cohorts will be able to self-isolate rather than go through Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) facilities, provided they meet all health and border standards.
Education New Zealand lauds opening of borders for international students
Education New Zealand Manapou ki te Ao (ENZ) applauds the Government’s statement that New Zealand’s borders will be reopened. This is a step in the right direction for international education. Grant McPherson, Chief Executive of ENZ, believes the news is an essential step in rebuilding a stronger and more sustainable international education system.
The declaration specified a five-step strategy for restoring borders beginning on February 28, 2022, first for New Zealanders returning from Australia and subsequently for the rest of the globe.
In addition to the prior cohorts allowed in 2020 and 2021, the government announced a fourth border exemption class for up to 5,000 international students to enter New Zealand from April 2022 to study for semester two this year.
“The border reopening steps outlined today enable the international education sector to progressively open through 2022 for the existing cohorts, with a new much larger cohort able to enter New Zealand for study before semester two. More details of the new student cohort will be determined by the Ministers of Education and Immigration and advised in due course,” he said.
“There’s also an opportunity for students from Visa Waiver countries such as Japan and South Korea to enter New Zealand from July for short visits of up to three months.”
“The government has demonstrated their commitment to international students and educational institutions in 2023, with normal visa processing resuming in October 2022. This means international students can plan towards being in New Zealand for courses starting in 2023,” added McPherson.
Mr. McPherson stated that education providers may now prepare more confidently for the coming year.
“It has been an incredibly challenging period for New Zealand education providers, international students, and those who support them. The sector has shown considerable patience as the borders were carefully managed to minimize the threat posed by COVID-19. Today’s announcement is an opportunity to rebuild and reshape the sector to meet the challenges ahead.”
Mr. McPherson stated that the industry’s recent innovation and diversification into online learning and delivery of courses overseas, including pathway programs, will continue to be a highlight as it moved forward. Today’s announcement also paves the path for future New Zealand students to resume international studies overseas.
“All New Zealand education providers know the value of building international partnerships, and developing new ways of meeting student needs. These are important building blocks for future resilience and quality education outcomes.
“In addition, from 14 March 2022 students entering New Zealand through the border exception cohorts will have the opportunity to self-isolate, rather than going through Managed Isolation and Quarantine facilities – subject to complying with all the required health and border requirements.”
Mr McPherson emphasized the need of getting guidance before proceeding with enrolling applications. Students with inquiries regarding this border class exemption should first contact their agent or chosen education provider.
Students can also go to NauMai NZ, which gives important information for foreign students in New Zealand or who are planning to visit New Zealand.
New Zealand’s border opening for international students lags behind that of rival countries
While New Zealand is finally taking the much-needed step of extending its borders to international students, it will lag behind competitor study abroad destinations by a year.
International students are one of the country’s most significant sources of revenue, worth $5 billion NZD every year. The sector employed around 45,000 people and was New Zealand’s fifth-largest export earner. The border shutdown highlighted the importance of the country’s regular influx of international students to the economy.
Representatives from the industry have welcomed the latest New Zealand border opening statements, which came after international students requested greater certainty on their return date.
“This will mean at least some international university students will be able to make it onshore for the start of semester two, although only a small proportion of the number we know are clamouring to get here,” Chris Whelan, chief executive of Universities New Zealand, was quoted.
The delayed reopening date, on the other hand, has put New Zealand leagues behind. “Australia, the US, UK and Canada are now all fully reopened to international students, but New Zealand won’t be until October, in time for 2023, leaving us a year or more behind those competitor countries,” said Whelan.
The delay and uncertainty in reopening also frustrated locked out international students wanting to return to New Zealand.
Whelan expressed optimism that with clearer criteria on public health, the amount of 5,000 spaces may be raised “so we do not lose students to our competitors”.
According to Education New Zealand (ENZ) chief executive Grant McPherson, students from visa-free nations such as Japan and South Korea may be able to make brief visits to the country for up to three months.
“It has been an incredibly challenging period for New Zealand education providers, international students, and those who support them,” he said. “The sector has shown considerable patience as the borders were carefully managed to minimise the threat posed by COVID-19.”
The rules for pre-university international students entry are still unclear
Universities have reacted positively to the announcement of the return of international students. Pre-university institutions, such as high schools, are, on the other hand, unsure about the rules governing their students’ return.
Craig Rosengrave, foreign student director at Burnside High School in Christchurch, is more confident that “New Zealand is back in business.” Although information on the admittance criteria were “still a little sparse,” he projected that the first 5,000 will be tertiary students and expects that high school pupils will be admitted next year.
“If all things go well and there aren’t too many problems thrown in the way, it looks positive for 2023,” he said.
Burnside High School had roughly 200 fee-paying international students per year prior to the epidemic. The school had one of New Zealand’s highest foreign student populations.
Rosengrave went on to say that while New Zealand would “always be a desirable place” for international students, the “delay” may prompt some to explore other nations for their education.