By Matthew Knott, News Editor of Study Travel Magazine

Today’s announcement of extended work rights for international students in New Zealand could be a welcome boost for a sector struggling against an unfavourable exchange rate.

A pilot to allow students on courses of 14 weeks or more to work has been running for just over a year in Christchurch – a measure first introduced to assist the city’s educators in the post-earthquake recovery – and the government has now heeded calls from industry to extend this nationwide.

The New Zealand government also announced a pilot scheme with a select group of 25 providers that will allow those institutions to decide whether student visa applicants can be streamlined, with the institutions bearing responsibility for ensuring students meet visa conditions.

Education New Zealand Chief Executive, Grant McPherson, hailed the pilot scheme as “a significant potential step forward”. Some questions spring to mind, such as what would be the consequence if a student overstayed a visa – an institution can’t fully ensure they leave the country – but it will be interesting to see how the pilot scheme unfolds.

And a logical extension of this principle would be to streamline visas for students applying through highly trusted agents. Many of New Zealand’s key recruitment markets have national agency associations within Felca, and New Zealand has its own agent training scheme, so this is a measure that could easily be applied to the agency sector.

In other news this week, CIBT Education Group unveiled plans for a ‘Global Education City’ (GEC) in Greater Vancouver, Canada, a proposed development to create a single space for a range of private and public institutions, including CIBT’s own subsidiary colleges and international student hotels.

One of the most eye-catching elements of the plan was that 30 per cent of the office space would be offered to agents to establish a presence near the partner institutions. CIBT was explicit in the value of agents to their business: it said CAN$26 million of tuition income had been referred by agents during the previous fiscal year. The GEC project has entered into a due diligence stage and will be subject to several approvals before building can commence, but it was welcome to see the agent industry at the heart of such a scheme. 


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