We have failed in every student test in nine years

Anil Sharma

New Zealand’s immigration system is broken. There is no doubt about it. And it is high time for reassessment.

As an educationist and Party Secretary of New Zealand People’s Party, one of the biggest issues that I see facing international students is the current immigration policy.

In recent years, the difficulty confronted by international students and the way the current government is handling the students after they have completed their tertiary studies is getting more and more bad reviews in the international press.

Shameful bottlenecks

Private sector visa caps, explanations from employers about hiring non-New Zealanders, employer unwillingness, WINZ-related formalities, unfamiliarity with the process, and costs rank as the most apparent barriers to hiring foreign national students.

In the case of international students who emerge from a world-class education system provided by New Zealand, the challenges associated with finding a job in the country after graduation and post-graduation courses are exacerbated by the difficulty thousands each year face, in finding an employer that is open to hiring non-New Zealand nationals.

I have heard students come to our Party office in distress at the end of their visa period complaining that their interviews almost always end with, “We would love to hire you, but you are not a New Zealander.”

Some argue that foreign students are a threat to the New Zealand workforce. But my question is, Why? What is it that is making us make it so difficult for them to live and work here?

Leader’s comments

Quoting our Party Leader Roshan Nauhria, “Preventing international students from working in New Zealand will not help our country. Creating barriers for them to be absorbed in the work force will not be a good sign. It will harm them. Encouraging employers to hire foreign nationals overseas, rather than in New Zealand, will push capital from New Zealand to locations where the foreign talent is hired. We are wasting our resources. Look at it this way: New Zealand colleges and universities spend four solid years teaching, influencing and cultivating the intellect of thousands of international students who choose to study here, but the country does not actively harness and embrace their talents. By making it difficult for these students to become part of the workforce, New Zealand loses out on much-needed revenue. They will provide their managerial and development expertise to organisations abroad. They will pay taxes abroad. Does this country really want to let someone with their trained skills, educational background and earning potential go?”

Foreign students are more likely to obtain higher-paying jobs, consequently paying more in taxes. But why stop there?

New Zealand tertiary education students for advanced degrees pay over $20,000 per year, per course, contributing significantly to tax revenues. Promises by New Zealand government are being broken.

Moral responsibility

New Zealand is known for its honesty and integrity and currently our ethics in honouring our word is questioned. We are sending a mixed message across.

By attracting and inviting students to come here, we have a moral responsibility towards seeing them through the process, not extract money and then desert them like they are some excess baggage for our economy.

We, at New Zealand People’s Party, will ensure that this process is completed smoothly.

We want to provide a rational solution to integrate people like these into the New Zealand workforce instead of opening the sphere for increased competition by pushing them out to other countries.

If New Zealand People’s Party comes in as government, we will simplify the visa process and make it transparent as well for the students to learn, work and live in New Zealand and bring back the country’s right name and policy gone wrong.

Anil Sharma is Secretary of New Zealand People’s Party.

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