The changes also sharpen the quality oversight of education providers by preventing the lowest quality providers from recruiting internationally.
Taking effect from January 2014, the changes mean tertiary international students studying for at least one academic year can work full-time during all scheduled holidays – previously only possible in the summer.
Work rights will be offered to more English language learners: new rules indicate those who are enrolled in a course of at least 14 weeks can work, down from the previous six-month threshold, and the English language proficiency requirement will cease.
“Any additional work taken up by the students is more than offset by the growth in the international education industry and the jobs it provides”
“The amendments to rules around international students working will bring New Zealand in line with policies of similar countries, especially Australia, and make it easier for students to choose to study here,” said Joyce.
He observed that the sector “contributes NZ$2.6 billion a year to our economy and 28,000 jobs for New Zealanders, plus it helps build strong linkages with the countries that are our trading future”.
“The changes are expected to bring a net increase of jobs for New Zealanders,” he added. “Any additional work taken up by the students is more than offset by the growth in the international education industry and the jobs it provides.”
In a tightening of quality, Immigration New Zealand will stop granting visas to students enrolling at “category 4” education providers – the lowest status granted by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA).
Immigration Minister, Michael Woodhouse, noted, “While we want more students to come to our shores to study, our focus has to be on providing them with the highest quality education New Zealand has to offer.”
It was not immediately clear how many institutions would be affected. In another move to safeguard New Zealand’s quality reputation, legislative amendments to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students were announced.
“Today’s announcements are great news for our international competitiveness,” said Grant McPherson,
Chief Executive of
Education New Zealand, who indicated that the pilot visa fast-track was “a significant potential step forward”.
The pilot will allow up to 25 pre-selected providers from a range of sectors, including schools, to offer streamlined and prioritised visa processing to students they’ve assessed as genuine and as having adequate financial resources. The pilot will run from 2014 before being rolled out to other high quality providers in 2015.
“This should be a win-win partnership that incentivises education providers to strive for high standards, select their students carefully and take more responsibility for good study outcomes,” said Woodhouse.
This year, the number of international students calculated over a four month period accounted for 56,000 students , a drop since 2003, which had 66,569 international fee-paying students enrolments over the same period.
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