Wellington Scoop

Work begins to allow international students to return to NZ universities

Report from RNZ
Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said today that work is underway to allow international students to return to New Zealand.

“Anyone coming into the country needs to do so in a way that is complying with that 14 day quarantine, or managed self isolation, accept on very rare circumstances where we can be very confident the risk is low,” he said.

“So yes, that does open up the option of international students coming into the country.”

But when exactly foreign students will be able to travel to New Zealand is still unclear, though universities hope it will be in time for the second semester.

Universities across the country saw their income plummet in the early stages of the pandemic, as thousands of foreign students were stuck overseas. Foreign students are a $5 billion industry for New Zealand.

The University of Auckland is working with officials to figure out how international students could enter the country safely. It has sent a draft plan to Auckland Council on how this could work, a spokesperson said.

“Obviously this is in early stages and theoretical until a decision is made about when International Students are able to return. This will also be dependent on the provision of student visas, which can take months to process.”

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said foreign students could spend be quarantined at university hostels.

“We would have seperate hostels, or maybe using hotels with strict controls for 14 days… and at the end of the 14 days, we could have confidence that these are people who will not be bringing Covid-19 into the country.”

The University of Auckland has confirmed it is considering moving domestic students out of halls to make way for international students that could be quarantined in university managed facilities. But it said it is still considering its options and no student will be left without accommodation.

Manukau Institute of Technology chief executive Gus Gilmore said he had also spoken to council officials about the possible return of international students. The polytechnic lost about a thousand foreign students in the pandemic’s early stages, he said. Allowing them to return to New Zealand would not only benefit the institute, but the whole country, Gilmore added. “Given the shortages in the trades in New Zealand and, of course, Unitech and MIT are major suppliers of trained graduates.”

1 comment:

  1. Kelly, 12. June 2020, 16:02

    Bringing the international students back to New Zealand would be beneficial to the economy and the life of the students. The diversity from international students at university helps with cultural understanding, language learning, and a broader out look for students. The International students also play largely in the travel industry, helping the economy. With a safe quarantine and testing in place I do not see how this could go wrong.