Concern continues over impact of coronavirus

Following the implementation of restrictions imposed to reduce the spread of the deadly coronavirus, New Zealand’s tertiary education institutions continue working closely with the Government to ensure all international students will be able to successfully carry on with their studies in New Zealand.

Last week, the New Zealand Government implemented temporary travel restrictions, refusing entry to any foreign travellers who left or transited through mainland China after 2 February 2020. As the situation continues to be reviewed, there are concerns within our tertiary education institutions about the welfare of staff and students, but also of the impact on enrolments and likely financial losses incurred as a result.

While ITPs and universities continue to work closely with the Government on managing the potential impact of the travel restrictions, tumu whakarae TEU national president Michael Gilchrist says it is important tertiary education providers, staff, and students continue to be fully informed of the changing situation, but that concerns for likely financial losses are not unwarranted.

“As the health and wellbeing of staff and students remains a priority, our ITPs and universities continue to keep their communities up to speed on the coronanvirus. However the likely loss in revenue as a result of restrictions on travel from China remains a major concern, particularly for our ITPs that after years of underfunding rely on international enrolments”.

As concerns over the impact of the coronavirus on tertiary education institutions increase, Gilchrist says measures may need to be put in place to protect those institutions worst impacted by the drop in enrolments and revenue,

“It’s vital that those institutions already struggling financially are supported and that this doesn’t impact their capacity to continue serving their communities down the track. TEU has been warning for years now that a flawed funding system that relies on revenue from international students was always going to expose us to this kind of situation. Now that these concerns are being realised, our tertiary education institutions need assurances”.

Gilchrist continued, “In the short-term, a meeting of the tertiary education sector may be in order to allay any concerns there may be around the health of staff and students at this time, and so that institutions can voice their concerns and know they are being heard”.

For health information: Ministry of Health.

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