Universities in New Zealand are asking from more detailed information regarding student quarantine requirements, before making any plans to welcome international students back to their premises.
Universities New Zealand’s chair, Derek McCormack, admitted that universities have been coming up with quite a few good ideas regarding international student returns, but that collaboration with the government is essential, according to RNZ.
“The universities have got good ideas and we’re in a position where we need to wait on government to engage with us on what the regulations would be to satisfy everybody that it would be safe to bring in international students,” Mr McCormack claimed.
International students in New Zealand contribute over $5 billion annually to the economy and the interest of these students to pursue their qualifications in the country is constantly on the rise. According to McCormack, universities will need the trust of the public, before bringing international students to the country.
McCormack also claimed that international students, when compared to returning New Zealanders, are less risky with regards to the spread of the virus. This is because they have the possibility of choosing students from countries with significantly lower COVID-19 cases, and deport them in case they break quarantine.
New Zealand universities wish to welcome international students into the country by early next year. However, some are interested in a trial quarantine system run by the end of this year. This is why universities are inquiring information of the requirements they must abide by in case they develop a quarantine plan.
The idea of losing international students means the country could also be affected financially. Only in 2019, there were more than 80,000 international students in the higher education institutions in New Zealand. Earlier in the month of June, some were considering the idea of making Queenstown in Otago a ‘quarantine town’ where intl students would stay for 14 days.
New Zealand’s Finance Minister, Grant Robertson, claimed recently that it is unlikely international students would return to the country this year, considering quarantine facilities which would be essential to let students in, are yet to be established.
Education Minister, Chris Hipkins, spoke to Stuff, admitting that education providers should not make plans to welcome international students back in New Zealand this year.
“A significant number of New Zealanders who have been living overseas are returning home, and they are our priority at the moment. Easing travel restrictions for other groups of people is a complex issue,” he said.
Essentially, this means that the possibility of international students entering New Zealand is quite low, however, plans remain for early in the year 2021.