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Government dangles right to work in global student push, moves on shonky providers

Thursday 10th October 2013

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International students will be allowed to work part and full-time in New Zealand in the latest government move to double the nation's income from the education industry to $5 billion by 2025.

But they will no longer be allowed to enrol at education providers accorded a 'Category 4', or 'Not Confident' rating by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, in a move intended to deal with defending the reputation of New Zealand as a study venue for students, many from China.

The right-to-work policy puts New Zealand more on a par with Australia, with which it competes for international students while rating lower in global rankings than the best Australian universities.

The policy applies both to tertiary students and secondary school students from overseas.

The doubling of revenues from international students is a key element of the government's Business Growth Agenda, with Economic Development and Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce saying jobs taken by visiting students would be far outweighed by the jobs created in the New Zealand education sector.

International education employs 28,000 people at present and is worth around $2.6 billion a year, and its success is regarded as vital to better funding New Zealand universities.

"Competition for international students is intensifying around the world, and it's important we stay competitive," said Joyce in a joint announcement with Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse.

Under the new policy, students studying full-time will be allowed to work during all study breaks, instead of just the summer break, while doctoral and research masters students will be able to work full-time.

English-language students will be allowed to work part-time during their study, but "Immigration New Zealand will no longer grant visas to students seeking to enrol at the few providers in Category 4, the lowest status granted by NZQA," said Woodhouse, who did not publish a list of Category 4 institutions with the announcement.

A new system is also to be trialled, giving partner universities, polytechnics and private training providers access to visa fast-tracking in return for being "accountable for the immigration outcome of their international students."

If successful, it could be implemented in 2015.

Also published in the package of announcements on international education was proposed legislative amendment to reflect the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students.

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