As medical experts warn the coronavirus will likely arrive in New Zealand at some point, Prime Minister Ardern has anounced an extention of the coronavirus travel ban which sees travellers from mainland China excluded from entry into New Zealand.

While the health and wellbeing of staff and students remains a concern for Government, health professionals, and those in the education sector alike, concerns for the economic impacts of the virus continue to be expressed across New Zealand.

The travel ban which refuses entry to any foreign travellers who left or transited through mainland China after 2 February 2020 was originally set in place for 14 days, but was extended for a further eight days, and is reviewed every 48 hours. During a post-Cabinet press conference yesterday, Monday 24 February, Ardern announced an extention to the travel ban of a further 8 days. However, there are suggestions that Australia could relax its travel ban for students next Saturday and, if that happens, New Zealand may follow suit.

With figures from 2018 indicating around 18 per cent of university enrolments are international students, universities are estimated as standing to lose more than $100 million if travel restrictions in response to the threat of coronavirus continue. On the back of visa tightening and delays in processing in 2019, which the TEU estimates cost tertiary institutes between $100 and $120 million, it is likely the real impact of continued travel restrictions on our tertiary education inistitutions will be much worse, particularly for those insitutions that have become financially over-reliant on international students, something TEU has been warning employers and governments about for several years.

Last week Te Whare Wānanga o Murihiku | Southern Institute of Technology became the latest tertiary education provider to announce a potential loss of $1.5 million in tuition fees as a result of the travel ban, and the subsequent drop in the number of students from China enrolling at SIT.

While no coronavirus cases have been reported yet in New Zealand, precautions are still being taken and students and institutions are awaiting further directives from Government.