While usually, New Zealand sees around 21,000 international students preparing to start their studies on-campus during this time of the year, the number is likely to fall by 50% in 2021 according to Universities New Zealand.
Universities in New Zealand are preparing to welcome international students back to campus for Semester 1 in February, but with a reduced population.
Chief Executive of ENZ Chris Whelan said that they are not absolutely sure as to how much reduction in the overall numbers this year willwitness.
Currently, close to 13,000 to 14,000 students are still in New Zealand, although a good percentage of these students would not be continuing. They are most likely to be finishing their programme during summer or would be waiting to go home. In the best-case scenario, the numbers may go up to 10,000 or else it would be around 7,000 to 8,000, Whelan added.
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According to Radio New Zealand (RNZ), the figures put forward by Immigration New Zealand suggest that 8,201 international students are studying at the school level, 7,136 at private tertiary level and 6,662 at polytechnic level. An additional 3,354 international students are enrolled at unrecorded education provided, taking the total number of international students in NZ to 38,954 (excluding higher education students).
At a news conference, NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern mentioned that the country is likely to be impacted by the global pandemic for the rest of 2021 as it cannot take a chance at this stage.
It is estimated that more than 5,000 international students with a valid student visa are still stuck in New Zealand. The government has recently announced that plans are being implemented for their phased-return in April.
No new international students will be able to travel to New Zealand for now and only those who are returning to continue studies will be welcomed.
Whelan added that although in small numbers, this is a step towards the right direction, which is part of the government recovery strategy for the international education sector.
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Apart from this, a number of other elements such as diversifying into different countries and shifting to online learning are sensible, although not practical. Several workshops will be conducted over the next few months along with the commencement of the partnership with NCUK for the Global New Zealand Education Pathway initiative.
The programme was developed prior to COVID-19, with the aim to help students transition to an English speaking country through foundation skills that can make them ready.
Semester 1 classes are set to begin on March 1, with all campus activities at most universities starting on February 22, 2021.
Stay tuned for the latest news and updates on foreign education.