Student numbers from India continue to rise

Student numbers from India continue to rise

More than 42,500 student visas approved since 2017
Venkat Raman, Auckland, January 17, 2020

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway with Immigration officials and staff at the Immigration New Zealand Mumbai Office on Wednesday, January 15, 2020 (Photo Supplied)

No, the immigration doors for students from India are neither shut nor ajar- in fact they are wide open, and the number of students has registered a significant rise- 33.3% ​in the past three years, if you were to analyse the figures that have just been received by Indian Newslink from Immigration New Zealand (INZ).

However, along with the number of approvals, the number of applications rejected for various reasons was high in 2019.

According to INZ, the total number of student applications approved for the three-year period covering January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2019 was 42,646 (as against 53,670 applications received). This figure represented a significant rise of 33.3% over the three-year period covering 2014 to 2016- a total of 32,024 applications approved (as against 61,564 applications received).

The number of student visas approved during 2019 was 14,751, compared to 13,450 in 2018 and 14,445 in 2017. During the previous three years, the number of student visas approved was 7503 (2016), 12,584 (2015) and 11,937 (2014).

Based on the above statistics, our analysis shows that the average approval rate rose from 52% during 2014-2016 to 79% during 2017-2019 three-year periods.

New Zealand not the first choice

A Radio New Zealand Report of July 11, 2016 said that New Zealand is not the first choice study destination for most Indian students.

“Countries like US, UK, Canada and Australia are usually on the top of the wish list. But when the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) decided to change the rules, the country experienced an unprecedented surge in Indian students wanting to study here – what started as a wave, quickly became a tsunami,” the report said.

RNZ also said that more students mean more money pumped into the New Zealand economy.

“The bad news is it is not exactly going to plan. Over the past few years, more and more accounts of cheating, immigration fraud, shoddy agents, exploitation of workers and low-quality education providers have emerged. However, much of its happens behind the scenes or even before students land on New Zealand soil,” the report said.

Rise in approval and decline

The number of student visa applications declined during 2019 was 5423, compared to 2276 in 2018 and 3415 in 2017. The approval rate in 2019 was therefore the lowest at 73% while it was 86% in 2018 and 81% the year before. The drop in approval rate could be attributed to several factors including incomplete applications, genuineness of qualification certificates, unverifiable financial arrangements and other factors.

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway told Indian Newslink that INZ now has additional 177 staff to ensure faster and more efficient processing of applications for all types of visas.

With Partnership visas now shifted to Hamilton, the Mumbai and Delhi offices of INZ will be able to concentrate on student visa and visitor visa applications, he said.

Student visa challenges

“Every application for student visas has to undergo a series of checks and verifications such as qualifications, work experience, financial arrangements and other criteria. An application could be approved in less than half hour or could take weeks depending on the information and documents provided. Not all information can be easily verified. The focus of INZ is to take the right decision and shift from volume to value and ensure that benefit accrues to New Zealand,” Mr Lees-Galloway had told us from Mumbai on Wednesday (January 15, 2020).

He said that there was a rise in the number of applications for university education, which is testified by statistics.

University education

The total number of student visa applications approved for university education stood at 2937 as at the end of December 2019, registering an increase of 44% over the previous year (2040) and about 79% over the approval numbers in 2017 (1758).

Polytechnics and Private Training Establishments (PTEs) accounted for a lion’s share of approvals during the three-year period – 11,814 in 2019, 11,410 in 2018 and 12,687 in 2017.

Commenting on the Indian Market, INZ said that India has a young, ambitious population who are becoming increasingly affluent and mobile.

“This has led to significant growth in the number of Indian nationals seeking to study internationally.

INZ Mumbai Area Office primarily assesses student visa applications from applicants in India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan. The visa approval rates reflect the relative ease or difficulty of verifying information across the respective countries, and the level of fraud and misrepresentation present,” it said.

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