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New initiatives to boost export education

I recently announced increased work rights for international students in the Canterbury region.

This 18-month trial scheme will apply to those attending quality education providers. Under the policy, students will be eligible to work 20 hours per week provided they are studying an English Language programme of at least 14 weeks duration or a Level 4 Foundation Certificate of one academic year’s duration.

The export education sector in Christchurch has taken a real hit because of the earthquakes.

I am confident that this pragmatic move will give students yet another reason to choose Christchurch, and have the bonus of stimulating other sectors of the economy.

Student fraud

The student visa fraud uncovered by Immigration New Zealand (INZ) officials in Beijing struck at the heart of one of the key things we are trying to do – boost the number of people who see New Zealand as the first choice for study because of our deserved reputation as a centre for academic excellence.

However, the discovery shows that there are robust systems in place.

It is always a delicate balance between processing applications as quickly as possible while ensuring that they are verified to ensure genuineness.

This is risk management that INZ officials apply all over the world.

The discovery of the fraud in Beijing shows that the system is working.

It is important that the investigation discovers what went wrong in this case so that we can learn from mistakes.

Exchange earner

The importance of export education to the New Zealand economy cannot be underestimated.

The industry generates $2.3 billion for our economy and we have an ambitious target to double the value of the sector over the next 15 years.

Other measures

There are other practical measures that we have put in place to encourage international students to come to New Zealand.

Changes to health screening which will cut costs and streamlined procedures have just come into effect. International fee-paying students no longer routinely need to provide full medical certificates and will only be screened for TB.

This will greatly reduce the cost and hassle for more than 60,000 students who will save around $17 million a year in medical costs.

To mitigate any impact on health services, INZ will require students to hold appropriate medical insurance. This will not be an issue for most students, as they are ineligible for health services in New Zealand and education providers are would be required to ensure that the students have proper insurance cover.

Nathan Guy is Immigration Minister of New Zealand. The above is an edited version of a speech that he delivered at the annual conference of the New Zealand Association of Migration and Investment in Auckland on August 31, 2012. (Read related reports under Businesslink).

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