July 2005 issue

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Work rights extended in New Zealand

Certain English language students in New Zealand will now be able to work part-time, in line with many other English-speaking study destinations.

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."

Canada's one-stop web resource

A number of Canadian government departments have been working together to produce a comprehensive web portal for students interested in studying in Canada. The "Study in Canada" portal, which is not, in fact, a website because it will only be accessible via other relevant websites, is currently being trialled at four Canadian embassies worldwide.

"["Study in Canada"] is very well received and many other Canadian embassies are clamouring to obtain the portal as soon as possible," related Jean-Philippe Tachdjian at the Education Marketing Group of International Trade Canada, which is one of the government departments responsible for the project. He said the web resource "creates a common brand for Canada's education marketing efforts". It offers information about all types of tertiary courses available in Canada with lists of institutions, cost comparisons and the pertinent immigration advice, dependent on the nationality of the student visitor.

There are hopes for a listing of language schools to be added to the web portal, and Tachdjian explained that accredited institutions would hopefully be added to the list early next year. "Only institutions that have been accredited through a rigorous quality assurance mechanism run by the Canadian language training industry will be presented on the site," he said.

While there are accreditation schemes run by two associations in Canada, there is a plan to establish one national scheme agreed by all stakeholders in time for Canada Day on July 1. There was no further information about this available at the time of going to press.

At present, the web portal includes information regarding Canada's 92 universities and 150 community colleges. Scheduled to be rolled out early next year to all Canadian consulates, high commissions and embassies, the Study in Canada portal is currently available through the websites of Canadian embassies in Italy, Morocco, Korea and Australia.

Sevis has teething troubles

Sevis – the Internet-based student tracking system that was introduced in 2004 – is improving in efficiency but some problems still remain, according to a report from the USA's Government Accountability Office (GAO).

One main stumbling block is the fact that institutional personnel are currently unable to make changes to a student's record, but have to ask federal authorities to make any amendments, which can slow down the information process and ultimately delay a student's ability to travel.

Victor Cerda, from the Department of Homeland Security, said his department was keen to improve Sevis further and allow college staff to be able to make some changes.

"Indications are that Sevis performance has improved and continues to improve," said Randolph Hite at the GAO, which prepared the report for a congressional hearing about Sevis.

Help-desk problems were noted as causing possible delays for students but the well-documented decline in international students was attributed to changing visa policies and competition, rather than Sevis issues, according to the govexec.com website.

USA pushes study abroad to US students

A new commission has been formed in the USA to encourage more American students to study abroad. The Commission on the Abraham Lincoln Study Abroad Fellowship Programme hopes to lessen the financial burden of studying abroad to encourage more students to apply, although no details of funding had been decided at the time of going to press. Chairperson of the commission, Peter McPherson, is the former president of Michigan State University, where two-thirds of senior students are said to study overseas, well above the national average. "Study abroad must be a central part of the curriculum and we can and must make it affordable," said McPherson.

An article published in the Chronicle of Higher Education earlier this year revealed that 65 per cent of students and 58 per cent of parents surveyed actually overestimated the cost of studying abroad by 25 per cent.

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