A small group of international students have been able to return to New Zealand for study in 2021.
In January, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced that 1000 international students would be able to enter the country and isolate in managed isolation facilities in order to study at New Zealand universities this year.
A small number of students have so far been able to go through MIQ in order to begin study, including students at the University of Auckland.
Overall, international enrolments are estimated to more than halve to around 10,000 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and travel restrictions. Auckland University Students’ Association International Students Officer Kevin Guo told Craccum that this fall in enrolments has had a number of implications for the University and beyond.
“The financial implications the University has been facing as a result of the lack of international students coming to New Zealand has been huge. Because of this, we have seen an increase in the loss of jobs, faculty and departmental funding cuts, even the food vendors on campus are struggling.”
Guo also highlighted “the loss in revenue that local business and the tourism industry are facing too, international students have always made huge contributions in these areas.”
Liangyu, a media and sociology student from China, said that despite missing her family she feels that she is lucky to be in the position she is in as an international student. She returned to New Zealand in early 2020, before travellers were required to isolate in MIQ facilities.
“A couple weeks later, due to COVID-19 becoming more serious, some of my friends came back to New Zealand via a third country, such as Thailand, which cost them lots of money. After the coronavirus pandemic hit New Zealand, lots of my Chinese friends were unable to get back because New Zealand’s borders were closed. In fact, I know there are some Chinese international students who have never even been to New Zealand but have already done at least one third of their degree online.”
Last year, the University of Auckland established two learning centres in mainland China to provide support for offshore students.
“While this method suffices as a temporary solution, we know that students who are stuck overseas are all desperate to get a spot on the exemption visa to come back and resume their studies or research here in New Zealand,” says Guo.
In New Zealand, cuts to staffing at major universities have been attributed to the economic impact of decreasing international enrolments. However, the Tertiary Education Union has highlighted that domestic enrolments have increased, and the financial situation points to a larger problem with government funding for domestic students. Additionally, academics have highlighted that a lack of international PhD students will impact research projects that those students are usually involved with.