The five-stage border opening plan announced by New Zealand has been hailed as a “good milestone” for foreign education, with normal student visa procedures due to restart in October 2022.
The proposal specifies that up to 5,000 overseas students would be allowed to enter the country under a border exemption class beginning in April.

According to Education New Zealand Manapou ki te Ao, the resumption to normal visa procedures will allow overseas students to enrol for study in New Zealand in 2023.

“By the time we reopen our border, we’ll be one of the most vaccinated and boosted nations in the world, and the Covid-19 Protection Framework will be well established in assisting in the management of Covid outbreaks,” said Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins in a statement.

The border will be opened first to New Zealanders from Australia on February 27, followed by nations from the rest of the globe on March 13. The 5,000 spots for overseas students starting semester two are included in the third stage, which begins on April 12.

During the pandemic, the government has allowed certain overseas students to enter the country, with border exemption classes in 2021 and 2020.

According to ENZ chief executive Grant McPherson, the stages allow the foreign education industry to “progressively open through 2022 for the present cohorts, with a new considerably bigger cohort eligible to enter New Zealand for study before semester two.”

“More information about the new student cohort will be determined by the ministries of Education and Immigration and provided in due course,” he added.

According to Universities New Zealand, the news gave “much-needed security” for universities and their present and potential overseas students who “had been patiently waiting offshore for such a long time.”

“We appreciate the confidence that comes with the declaration that borders will be completely reopened to international students beginning in October.” It will mean that universities in Aotearoa New Zealand will be completely open to them again in time for the start of the academic year in 2023,” said Chris Whelan, chief executive of the apex organisation.

The PIE previously stated that students and stakeholders were concerned about the uncertainties surrounding visa processing and border reopening.

The partial reopening of the campus for 5,000 international students on April 13 suggests that “at least some international university students will be able to make it onshore for the start of semester two.”

Despite the fact that it is “just a small part of the people we know are clamouring to come here,” he added.

Students from visa-free nations such as Japan and South Korea will be able to enter New Zealand for up to three months beginning in July, according to McPherson.

“The government has shown its commitment to overseas students and educational institutions in 2023, with normal visa processing resumed in October 2022.” This implies that overseas students may plan to be in New Zealand for courses beginning in 2023,” he added.

“It has been a very difficult time for New Zealand education providers, overseas students, and those who assist them.” The industry has been patient as the borders were carefully controlled to reduce the threat presented by Covid-19.”

The announcement is “an chance to reform and reshape the industry in order to address the challenges ahead.”

“Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada are now all completely reopened to foreign students, but New Zealand won’t be until October, in time for 2023, placing us a year or more behind our competitors,” Whelan stated.

“As public health reasons become more clear in the following months, we hope that this allotment of 5,000 spaces may be raised so that we do not lose students to our competitors.”

Jason Cushen, the international office director at the University of Otago, recently informed the Otago Daily Times that the institution, which had 3,000 international students before the epidemic, has gotten permission for 148 students to return to the country since 2020.

Universities New Zealand anticipated in early 2021 that 10,000 overseas students would be the “best case” for the country’s campuses that year.

“After what will be two and a half years of Covid-19 border controls, New Zealand has a lot of catching up to do, so it’s great that the Minister of Education plans to go later this year to assist revive our international education markets,” Whelan said.
Stakeholders have already cautioned that the country’s border reopening plan will harm New Zealand’s education providers.

“Meanwhile, our institutions look forward to welcoming back as many foreign students as possible in 2022 and reaping the benefits of their significant presence in our communities, both on and off campus,” Whelan added.

McPherson went on to say that the country’s education providers will continue to incorporate the “innovation and variety” into online learning and course delivery from outside that they demonstrated during the epidemic into the country’s portfolio in the future.

He stated that NauMai NZ will give information for overseas students in New Zealand or planning to visit the country.

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