Confidence in border security should precede student arrival

Confidence in border security should precede student arrival
Grant McPherson

Wellington, July 11, 2020

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to ramp up overseas, New Zealand is in the very fortunate position of being able to rebuild its economy.

At Education New Zealand (ENZ), we are shifting our focus from the immediate response phase to a longer view. Your insight and problem-solving on so many urgent matters, including student wellbeing and repatriation, has been invaluable.

I would like to reflect on how we have worked together so far.

Our activities together represent just a beginning on the long road ahead.

Significant measures

Within ENZ, we have (a) Created and administered the International Student Hardship Fund, which has allocated $1 million to 105 providers and community organisations, assisting approximately 11,000 students (b) Created the Future Focused Programme and invested $1.2 million of reallocated government funds into the future of the industry to encourage innovation (c) Stood up cross-organisation teams within ENZ to focus on student wellbeing and support the repatriation of school-aged students (d) Communicated and engaged intensively with peak bodies, education providers, agents and in-market partners (e) Invested in NauMai NZ and increased our communications to students within New Zealand (f) Continued to maintain visibility of New Zealand as a high quality study destination. 

We are continuing to work closely with other agencies, who have optimised policy settings to cushion the sector from the impacts of Covid-19 as far as possible.

Awaiting international students

Of course, a crucial step of the international education sector will be bringing in students.

International students remain a priority group in the government’s planning for any managed border entry agreements.

We are looking forward to welcoming international students into New Zealand again, but we need to make sure we do so in a way that is safe for everyone.

There are many details to be worked through, including practical quarantine and self-isolation arrangements, monitoring processes, and how the costs can be shared by those arriving.

As a result of this complexity, Education Minister Chris Hipkins has advised our sector leaders that international students will not be returning to New Zealand in July and August this year.

He hopes that we will be able to safely welcome small groups of students by the end of the year and begin building up towards 2021.

We need to have and retain public confidence in the managed border re-entry process, before we welcome cohorts of students to New Zealand.

Our work towards a sector recovery strategy continues and I look forward to sharing more with you this July.

Grant McPherson is Chief Executive of Education New Zealand based in Wellington. The above was taken from his recent speech.

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