Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway has announced plans to change student post-study work rights.
The proposals include changing the length of time students can stay on in New Zealand to work once they complete their studies.
Students completing a non-degree level 7 or below qualification will be eligible for a one-year post-study work visa. However, they will also be required to study for at least two years before they are eligible to apply. Those completing a degree level 7 or above qualification will be eligible to apply for a three-year work visa.
The Tertiary Education Union (TEU) urged the government to think carefully about the impact these changes could have on the sector. Over nine years, the previous National-led Government changed the tertiary education sector and cut funds by so much that many institutions now depend on attracting increasing numbers of international students to maintain financial viability.
Iain Lees-Galloway needs to be careful to ensure there are no knock-on effects on public institutions that National has made reliant on fees from international students, the TEU said.
Education Minister Chris Hipkins recently committed to reforming the tertiary education funding model. This work takes on even greater importance now the proposed changes to the immigration settings surrounding international education are known.
The TEU supports high quality tertiary education for all students including international students, and is concerned Minister Galloway’s proposals will put even further pressure on the viability and longer term sustainability of many institutions.
Minister Hipkins and Minister Galloway need to work together to ensure the challenging financial circumstances facing many tertiary institutions is not made even worse by these proposals, particularly after a Budget that provided no increase to the sector for the first time in many years.