New Zealand allows students greater work rights

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In an attempt to attract a greater share of the world's international students, New Zealand education minister Steven Joyce and immigration minister Michael Woodhouse have announced reforms of New Zealand's rules governing students' work rights while in New Zealand.

They also announced a new 'streamlined and prioritised visa processing' system which will make it easier for some students to apply for visas.

Mr Joyce said international education…contributes NZ$2.6bn 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'. He added 'Competition for international students is intensifying around the world and it's important that we stay competitive'.

Students can work during all scheduled course breaks

The main changes are
  • Students studying full-time will be allowed to work during all scheduled course breaks (previously they were only allowed to work in the summer holidays)
  • Doctoral and masters students will be allowed to work full-time
  • English language students will be allowed to work part-time

Mr Joyce said that the changes were expected to result in a net increase in the number of jobs available to New Zealanders. He said that, while students would take some jobs that might otherwise have been taken by New Zealanders, this would be 'more than offset by the growth in the international education industry and the jobs it provides'.

Mr Woodhouse announced that the lowest category of education college –Category 4 colleges, would no longer be allowed to teach overseas students. He said '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'.

New 'streamlined and prioritised visa service

But for those studying at selected universities and polytechnics, there will be the possibility of being issued a visa via a new 'streamlined and prioritised' visa service. There will be a pilot of the scheme in 2014 and, if it is successful, all top-quality Category 1 providers will be using the new system in 2015.

The ministers also announced a new regime to ensure that international students who are ripped off by dishonest agents or colleges are able to get redress quickly. Mr Joyce announced a new 'Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students' to 'deal with bad apples in the system'.

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