The New Zealand government has recently launched an initial pilot scheme for a new student visa, which is designed to make the country more competitive for international students. Tertiary education, skills and employment minister Steven Joyce and immigration minister Michael Woodhouse jointly launched the visa, which will help New Zealand retain and attract top international students.
The pathway student visa, which has been implemented from December 7, allows international students to undertake up to three consecutive programmes of study with selected education providers. A pathway can be offered by a single education provider or in partnership with other selected education providers. The visa will be valid for a maximum of five years.
While launching the visa, minister Joyce said it was being implemented for an initial pilot period of 18 months to cover more than 500 primary, secondary and tertiary institutions. Figures released earlier showed the number of international students studying in New Zealand on student visas have gone up by 16% in the 2014-15 financial year to 84,856.
“Industry and government believe that pathway student visas will help retain more international students and make New Zealand more competitive with countries such as Australia which already offer pathway programmes,” Joyce said.
“Education providers will be required to have a 90% global student visa approval rate for entry into the pilot (over a 12-month period). Providers will enter into a formal agreement between themselves to manage pastoral care and education progress.
Qualifying students will then be provided an offer of place and paid tuition fees for the first programme of study/year (whichever is shorter) and conditional offers for subsequent programmes of study. Students will be expected to provide evidence of maintenance funds for the first year of study,” said Ziena Jalil, regional director, South and Southeast Asia, Education New Zealand.
While the pathway visas provide efficiency gains and marketing opportunities for higher education providers to package study pathways together, permanent residence or employment opportunities in New Zealand are not linked directly to them. “Work rights will be granted for the visa duration if the first programme of study qualifies for work rights under existing immigration instructions,” Jalil said.
Significantly, India is the second largest source market for international students for New Zealand. Between January and August 2015, 23,447 Indian student were enrolled across NZ campuses, according to official figures.
In the first pilot 18-month period, New Zealand immigration authorities will evaluate outcomes such as student transition rates from the first to the second programme of study and how well the arrangements between providers are working.
The education service providers will have entered into formal agreements between themselves to manage pastoral care and education progress of students enrolled under the pathways visa. A list of qualifying education providers participating in the pilot has been published on the Immigration New Zealand website.
To qualify for the pathways visa, students have to provide an offer of place and paid tuition fees for the first programme of study/year (whichever is shorter) and conditional offers for subsequent programmes of study.
The new visa provides assurance to students and leads to efficiency gains for Immigration New Zealand and the industry as students will not need to apply for as many visas as well as having a visa for their whole planned pathway of study.
While making the announcement about the pathway visa, immigration minister Woodhouse pointed out that the international education industry in the country was already worth $2.85 billion in foreign exchange each year and the pathway student visa was an important initiative that would help in the goal to double the value of international education to New Zealand by 2025.
“The new visas will provide assurance to students that they have a visa for their whole planned pathway of study. There are safeguards in place, including requirements for providers to have a 90% global student visa approval rate for entry into the pilot and entering into a formal agreement between themselves,” Woodhouse said.
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Pathway Study Visa will help New Zealand attract top international students
Posted on December 28, 2015