By Gurbir Singh, Hamilton( New Zealand), 07 June, 2018:
NZ government’s proposed clampdown on the students’ rights to stay and work in the country after study has caused ripples across a wide segment of society and received criticism from some groups.
While those students who are currently here have welcomed the removal of employer assisted post-study work visa, but the announcement has shattered the dreams of those who were contemplating choosing New Zealand as their study destination.
But according to the Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway, students were being misled by some dodgy agents and PTEs into believing New Zealand was an easy option for residency. These changes aim to curb this and end exploitation of students by employers.
In 2016-17, 18,266 students were granted a post-study visa to work in New Zealand. Of those, an estimated 9000 to 12,000 would be affected with these proposed changes.
If these proposals are accepted, it may significantly reduce the number of international students in New Zealand, particularly those studying non-degree level 7 and below, and its education industry would lose $260 million according to the Immigration Minister himself.
Influx of students from India - which is one of the two main education markets, may reduce to a trickle as students would go to other countries to study.
It is anticipated that these changes will have a big impact on private training establishments, technical institutes, polytechnics, and on the business of offshore and onshore immigration agents. Universities, on the other hand, may gain with more enrolments expected at graduate and above levels.
Meanwhile, the proposed changes have not found favours with the opposition National Party.
While talking to this journalist yesterday from Wellington, National’s Immigration spokesperson, Michael Woodhouse expressed his concern at the “tremendous uncertainty and confusion” this “half baked announcement” will cause.
“This change in policy will cause tremendous uncertainty in an industry that is our second biggest service export earner,” he said.
He also referred to the huge impact it would have on students coming from India which is a major education market for New Zealand.
Disagreeing with the Immigration Minister, Woodhouse said, “Sub-degree qualifications are not necessarily low quality and include courses of foundation learning and English language that could lead to higher level courses. These changes could prevent that study occurring in New Zealand.”
When reminded that the removal of employer assisted work visa would be beneficial to vulnerable students, Woodhouse said, “There is no evidence that those on an employer assisted visas are more vulnerable to exploitation than those on open work visas. These changes could actually have the opposite effect and would reduce the likelihood that graduates work in an area related to their qualifications”
The local National party MP, David Bennett, when approached for comments, expressed similar views.
“These changes are not necessary and (are) an attack on the international education sector that will impact on many students, particularly from India. It will mean NZ will be less attractive as an education destination and ultimately the country will miss out on the vast potential those students could have provided”.
Universities New Zealand Executive Director Chris Whelan agreed with the announced changes. “These changes simplify things for students, while encouraging them to get qualifications that will open doors to more meaningful jobs. That is better for them; it is better for the employers who are constantly dealing with skill shortages. And it’s therefore ultimately better for the country”.
Whether these changes come into effect as is or are watered down will depend upon the feedback the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) receives from the public submissions that close on June 29, 2018.
Gurbir Singh is a Hamilton-based freelance Feature Writer & Journalist. This news-story was originally published in PressReader.Com