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NZ: work rights for all English students in Christchurch

All English language students studying in the Canterbury region of New Zealand will now be able to work part-time to supplement their income, as the New Zealand government moves to shore up the local industry, which suffered a 37% decline in business last year, in large part as a consequence of the earthquake in Christchurch.

As long as students are studying for at least 14 weeks at a quality institution, they will be able to work for 20 hours per week

“Foreign students are an important industry for Canterbury, but numbers have taken a hit since the major earthquakes,” said Immigration Minister, Nathan Guy, when announcing the new rule today. “This new initiative will help attract more international students to Christchurch, stimulating the industry and local economy.”

“It’s good for the language travel industry in general in New Zealand”

Work rights will initially be extended for an 18-month trial period. As long as students are studying for at least 14 weeks at a quality institution, they will be able to work for 20 hours per week – something the industry has campaigned for in the past, given Australia extends similar work rights to its English language students.

(Until now, only long-term students with good English skills have been able to work part-time).

Indeed, Rob McKay, Managing Director of CCEL in Auckland and Christchurch, said, “The English language industry here has been striving for automatic work-rights for its student visa holders for many years.  This is a very significant breakthrough.”

McKay told The PIE News that he thought “without doubt” the news would result in a growth in student numbers studying in Christchurch. “I think it will have across the board appeal in the same way as working holiday visas,” he said. “I believe that students want to have the option to work part-time rather than it being an essential part of their experience.”

He hoped that after this “cautious trial”, the scheme would be extended to more providers, “once the benefits are clear to be seen”.

Darren Conway of Languages International, which also operates in Christchurch and Auckland, was also pleased with the decision. He said it was good news for the city and area, because “students coming to Christchurch in particular do their spending in travel right across the South Island..

“And it’s good for the language travel industry in general in New Zealand, because this trial in Christchurch is being evaluated with a view to rolling it out across the rest of the country”.

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