The debate over whether international students should seek and get jobs as a ‘matter of right’ continues to rage but according to many residents and citizens, while they can be accorded ‘the privilege’ for no more than 20 hours a week, there is an increasing view that they pose a threat to homegrown graduates and job seekers.
Over the years, we have seen thousands of students from India arriving here, not just for pursuing their higher education but also to land on a job and settle here as permanent residents and become citizens. Many of them have the ulterior motive of moving across to Australia – a benefit that their New Zealand passport brings with it.
Cause for concern
While export education is a profitable enterprise, providing thousands of jobs for people here, the increasing number of international students competing for jobs with nationals and other permanent residents has become an issue of concern.
Many New Zealanders have begun to feel that students, with their ability to be flexible and accept lower salaries, have depressed the income levels, creating socio-economic problems. The rising number of work permits issued to students is also a matter of concern, according to some people.
Hostility to immigrants is rising all over Europe, but opinion polls suggest it is worse in Britain than in any other rich country. David Cameron’s government came to power promising to cut net migration to “tens of thousands” by the next election. This was not only wrong, in terms of both Britain’s obligations and its economic needs, but also impractical, since last year the number was 216,000. Since many immigrants are entitled to entry, because, for instance, they come from the European Union, turning away students, who account for about 40% of the total, is the only way of cutting numbers significantly.
Export education is good- for businesses, educational institutions and the economy. But a system has to be in place to ensure that incoming students, welcome as they are, do not upset the applecart, and bring down the standard of living, which is easily achieved by unfair competition.