An immigration policy review by the New Zealand government has resulted in the decision to permit international students graduating from certain subjects a six-month open work permit, while English language students with a Toefl score of 5.0 or above, studying for more than six months, and secondary school students in years 12 or 13, with appropriate permission, can now also work part-time for up to 20 hours per week.
Previously, only tertiary students had been able to work for up to 15 hours per week this rule has also been revised up to 20 hours per week. "The changes in policy will allow New Zealand to compete far more effectively and allow NZ to better reap the benefits of having international students here," said Stuart Boag at Education New Zealand.
In addition, the right to work full-time in the long Christmas holiday period is offered to any student enrolled in a course of 12 months or more in duration, while eligible graduating students (who would gain points in the Skilled Migrant category), who find work using their open work permit, can also apply for a post-study two-year work permit. These changes come into effect on 4 July.
Immigration Minister, Paul Swain said, "The changes better align policy with the government's international education strategy as well as making sure New Zealand remains competitive in the global market for students."
At Languages International in Auckland, Darren Conway commented that the policy was "certainly a reasonable step in the right direction and places us on a more even footing with our competitors". However, he suggested that the high Toefl requirement favoured students learning English at tertiary institutions, who would be more likely to have a higher English language level.
Meanwhile, in Canada, international students studying a degree at a university can now work off-campus part-time, as well as on-campus, as a trial programme has been rolled out across the country. In addition, graduating students in some areas will now be eligible for work for two years rather than one upon graduation (see page 38).
"We have been listening to our stakeholders and are certain that these initiatives will help increase the global competitiveness of Canada," said Joe Volpe, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. However, as the new ruling does not affect short term students with lower English levels, "this doesn't mean anything for the language training sector", said Valerie Richmond at Capls. She added, "Capls has been working with [relevant bodies] to expand the initiative to include the language training sector and we are hopeful that this will be addressed in the near future."
Australasia builds off-shore business
International education earnt NZ$2.1 billion (US$1.4 billion) for New Zealand businesses in 2003/2004, according to figures released by Education New Zealand (EdNZ). This is just below the NZ$2.2 billion (US$1.5 billion) of the previous year. Given declines in international student arrivals, however, EdNZ is helping institutions expand their business off-shore, via the Export Education Innovation Programme (EEIP). Institutions are able to bid for grants to fund business expansion models, such as partnering with overseas institutions in cooperative ventures.
"The potential for offshore expansion is enormous," said Stuart Boag at EdNZ. "The challenge of taking up opportunities offshore is more about investment, risk management and practical implementation than about whether we have something to offer."
In Australia, Education Minister, Brendan Nelson, has also announced measures to enhance the Australian offshore education product. He pledged AUS$590,000 (US$450,000) to the Australian Universities Quality Agency (AUQA) to reimburse the cost of quality audits off-shore. He also promised increased debate on how to ensure quality in the sector through a discussion paper, A National Quality Strategy for Australian Transnational Education and Training.
"Each year, more than 100,000 international students are enrolled offshore in courses offered by Australian institutions," said Nelson. "Last year, income through tuition fees for these courses contributed more than AUS$374 million (US$285 million) in revenue. It is estimated that by 2012, income from offshore courses will exceed AUS$1.5 billion (US$1.1 billion) a year."
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