new zealand's borders
German tourists walk towards the departure gates to board a special flight for Frankfurt at Christchurch Airport in Christchurch on April 8, 2020. Source: Sanka Vidanagama/AFP

New Zealand’s borders are likely to remain shut to international students for the rest of the year.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said yesterday schools and other institutions should not expect to receive any international students until next year, reported Stuff. The government, however, will prioritise international students when New Zealand’s borders reopen.

The warning came as Hipkins announced a package worth 51.6 million New Zealand dollars in a bid to help the country’s international education sector. The long-term recovery plan includes a range of subsidies and subsidies to help the sector’s “recovery and rebuild,” whereby almost half the funds will be spent on retaining specialist staff teaching and providing pastoral care to international students who remain in New Zealand.

“This funding builds on the work the government has already been doing to support providers and students, including wage subsidies, enabling Private Training Establishments (PTEs) to hibernate, establishing an international student hardship fund, and removing the requirement for providers to pay the export education levy in 2020 and 2021,” Hipkins said.

New Zealand was one of the first countries in the world to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. On June 8, it largely returned to pre-pandemic normality, with most social and economic restrictions lifted, save for border controls. It reported only one new case of COVID-19 in managed isolation today, after three days with no new cases.

new zealand's borders

A couple wearing face masks wait for their flight at Wellington International Airport one day before the country goes on lockdown to stop any progress of the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Wellington on March 24, 2020. New Zealand’s borders will likely remain shut to travellers until next year. Source: Marty Melville/AFP

New Zealand’s borders and international students

Previously, there were talks about allowing students to begin or resume their education in New Zealand in the second half of the year. Last week, however, New Zealand’s Finance Minister Grant Robertson said international students are unlikely to return to New Zealand this year as the country will need time to establish the quarantine facilities needed to let students back in.

Yesterday, Hipkins said no set time frames have been made about the opening of New Zealand’s borders yet, but the government is working as quickly as it can to do so. He added that when borders reopen, low-risk cohorts of students will be first to be flown in and international students will have to pay for the costs of their isolation.

International students are a priority

The NZ$51.6 million package will go towards making up the fall in revenue at PTEs, including English language schools, and helping students work better from home using “future-focused products and services”.

It will also include initiatives to provide pastoral care and other activities for international students, ensure New Zealand education is delivered offshore, and keeping the sector’s brand visible.
Hipkins said, “We are sensitive to the impact the unexpected loss of revenue will have had on international education providers and the investment announced today will help cushion the blow.”

“Ultimately we want an international education system that’s mutually good for students, providers, and benefits New Zealand economically and socially.”

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