In New Zealand, life is as normal as it can get despite the global COVID-19 pandemic, which broke out nearly a year ago. To the envy of many nations around the world, the country stemmed the spread of the disease, thanks to quick, decisive action of the government.
Which isn’t to say that New Zealand hasn’t paid a steep price to secure the health of its citizens. The country sealed its borders to most of the outside world, imposing very strict restrictions on travel. The needed measures have dampened economic activity, including the education sector, a major contributor to gross domestic product.
“The government is acutely aware of the challenges that the sector is currently facing. We are sensitive to the unexpected loss of revenue for international education providers and have made investments that will help cushion the blow,” said Minister of Education Chris Hipkins.
“And New Zealand’s international education sector will benefit from the strengthened global reputation which we gained because of our handling of the COVID-19 crisis,” he added.
The recovery plan announced by the government aims to stabilize the international education sector; to strengthen the educational system through new regulatory regimes, policies and practices; and to accelerate transformation of the entire sector.
“Ultimately we want an international education system that is mutually beneficial for students, providers and benefits New Zealand economically and socially. This coincides with the final plank of the government’s five point economic recovery plan, which aims to position New Zealand globally as a place to trade with, invest in, and eventually visit again,” Hipkins said.
“I know much of the recovery is dependent on when New Zealand will open its borders again tointernational students. Providers are eager to get timeframes on when any changes to the border closure will be made. The government will allow international students to return once it is safe to do so,” he also said.
In November, the government lifted the blanket ban on international students, allowing first the return of PhD and Masters students who were caught offshore and needed to return to New Zealand to complete their work. Priority will be given to those who must be in the country for the practical components of their research and study.