Work rights extended in Christchurch
August 10, 2012
New Zealand’s Immigration Minister, Nathan Guy, has announced that work rights for English language students in Canterbury will be extended, in a bid to boost the sector as it recovers from the effects of last year’s earthquake.
Photo credit: Tourism New Zealand
The 18-month trial scheme comes into effect on August 27, from when students on an English language programme of at least 14 weeks in duration or a Level 4 Foundation Certificate of one academic year’s duration will be eligible to work 20 hours per week.
Current eligibility is restricted to students enrolled on a programme of at least six months and meeting a certain level of English proficiency.
As previously reported, the region suffered a 37 per cent drop in international student enrolments during 2011. “This new initiative will help attract more international students to Christchurch, stimulating the industry and local economy,” said Guy.
Rob McKay, Managing Director of English language school CCEL, one of the Christchurch schools whose students will be eligible for the new rights, said the announcement was excellent news for quality schools. “The English language industry here has been striving for automatic work rights for its student visa holders for many years. This is a very significant breakthrough.”
“The trial is quite narrow and restricted to the highest ranked schools, but it is a great start and a very positive signal from the NZ government,” McKay continued. “Without a doubt it will lead to a growth in student numbers studying English in Christchurch, which in turn will flow into our pathway partners.”
Students will need to be enrolled at a quality education provider: Category One status under the New Zealand Qualification Authority (NZQA) External Evaluation Review (EER) quality assurance system; on a three-year audit cycle (under the former NZQA quality assurance system; or a university. NZQA has said it will prioritise assessment of Canterbury English language providers that have not yet had an EER so that they are not disadvantaged, and may also consider requests for re-assessment from providers currently below Category One.
Education New Zealand Chair, Charles Finny, said the move was a valuable addition to the government’s NZ$5 million (US$4 million) promotion programme for the area. “International education is important to Christchurch, and all the players in the sector are working extremely well together to make sure the world knows Christchurch is a high-quality education destination.”
Finny added an initial NZ$1 million package was already underway, including NZ$170,000 to build a marketing plan, NZ$510,000 for sales and growth initiatives, NZ$155,000 to maintain a presence in the top five offshore markets, and NZ$165,000 to develop industry capability.
Immigration New Zealand said the work rights trial would be evaluated after 18 months, with the possibility that the rights may subsequently be rolled out nationwide.
At the time of writing, US$1 = NZ$1.23