A total of 250 international postgraduate students will be allowed to continue their studies in New Zealand.
This is good news for international students of one of the most preferred destinations for higher education. New Zealand’s borders have been closed to almost all foreign travellers for most of 2020.
The government announced the news in October 2020 and said that the first group of students are expected to enter the country as early as November. Many will arrive in 2021.
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“These are students who hold or held a visa for 2020, and whose long-term commitment to study here was disrupted by Covid-19. Priority will be given first to those who need to be in the country for the practical components of their research and study,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said.
After they arrive in New Zealand, every student will have to stay in managed isolation for 14 days. There will be measures in place for their entry so that New Zealand citizens returning to their home country are not impacted.
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Local education experts acknowledged that the number of international students who will be able to continue their studies in person in New Zealand this year is small, but say that this is the necessary approach. Bringing students back is more complicated than it sounds, Chris Hipkins noted. The gradual return should help the country manage the situation and the demand for quarantine facilities, so more students can hopefully arrive in the future.
Universities New Zealand chief executive Chris Whelan said the organisation welcomes the decision and looks forward to “extending this to all our international students who remain overseas”.
Considering the uncertainty around Covid-19, the government will review other possible border exceptions when it is safe to do so, according to officials.
So far, about 10,400 exceptions have been granted for non-New Zealand citizens and residents. They include essential health workers and other critical workers and family of New Zealand citizens or permanent residents.