New Zealand: Colleges stand to lose from Opposition's plan to slash student visas
Under Labour's plan, study visas will not be offered to incoming students for courses below a bachelor’s degree. Source: Shutterstock

Industry stakeholders predict close to 70 percent of New Zealand’s private training establishments (PTEs) could “collapse” if the New Zealand Labour Party’s proposed immigration reforms are implemented, reports Radio New Zealand.

According to Independent Tertiary Education New Zealand (Itenz), the main representative of the private higher education sector, Labour’s plans do little to solve the problems it aims to solve, such as the country’s housing crisis and road congestion.

Instead, it will cause up to 70 percent of the sector’s business to collapse, Itenz chairman Christine Clark said.

Labour’s leader Andrew Little announced on Monday the party’s plan to slash net immigration numbers by 20,000 to 30,000 a year by, among others, tightening the current student visa regime, particularly international students in “low-level courses”.

Under their plan, the party will stop giving out study visas to incoming students for courses below a bachelor’s degree. The popular one-year post-study work visa will also be limited to graduates with a bachelor’s degree.

And it’s not just the country’s private training establishments (PTEs) that stand to suffer.

The move will harm the country’s polytechnic institutes as well, according to Dave Guerin from Ed Insider, a company that provides advice to tertiary education groups.

“Polytechnics are heavily reliant on the Indian and Chinese market. In some places, they make up 80 to 90 percent of their international students.

“I’ve just gone through most of the polytechnic sector’s annual reports. Most of them are seeing growth in international students and declines in domestic students, so if they see a decline in international student numbers, then they’ll be in the red financially,” Guerin said.

Clark believes the opposition’s target on “low-level” courses is misplaced, saying Little had mixed up “low level” with “low quality” and by that, implying students at PTEs are “low-level” people.

“By saying low level, he’s also targeting the providers who are training the chefs, baristas, technicians, the horticultural people and the farmers as well as the caregivers.”

“New Zealand actually needs those people.”

Immigration data show the number of international students with visas in New Zealand is now at a record high, with more than 93,000 students holding visas this March, reports Radio New Zealand.

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