Published: 05th May 2020
New Zealand Government ensures effective measures to support 51,000 international students
The measures include public healthcare and accommodation, relaxation of work rights and visa extensions for international students undergoing a difficult time
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, New Zealand institutions, the Government and communities are supporting the 51,000 international students currently studying at New Zealand institutions. New Zealand values international students and their health and well-being are top priority, and the government has implemented student care and support, accommodation, and healthcare initiatives, as well as visa and part-time work extensions. In such unprecedented times, a New Zealand government student support factsheet outlines support for international students:
Addressing visa concerns, students with a temporary visa due to expire between 1 April and 9 July 2020 will have their visas extended to 25 September. Adjustments are also being made for tertiary students who are unable to leave and are no longer enrolled.
Relaxed work rights and wage subsidies
New Zealand has also relaxed work rights for international students. As per the revised rights, international students in healthcare roles including aged residential care may work more than 20 hours per week for a period of three months. To help students cope with financial hardship, the Government is offering wage subsidies to those whose employment has been affected by COVID-19. Universities and student associations are offering budgeting or finance services, emergency payments from a hardship fund, or a food parcel. Students have been guided to their local Civil Defense Emergency Management (CDEM) Group for basic food, medicine and cleaning supplies. Free public healthcare is provided to international students if they think they have contracted COVID-19.
Hotline set-up and accommodation arrangements
Students have additional support by the Tertiary Education Commission on a hotline number dedicated to them. If students are feeling anxious or lonely, there are several free counselling services they can use and have been provided with the necessary contact details.
The hotline is a one-stop solution for international students with all kinds of queries. Students living in a hostel have been advised to check with their place of study to confirm accommodation arrangements that they have in place. Student hostels are strictly enforcing personal distancing and hygiene requirements, in accordance with Ministry of Health guidelines.
These measures continue New Zealand’s focus on international student support. In 2017, New Zealand launched the International Student Wellbeing Strategy that further elevates the standard of pastoral care for international students. New Zealand was the first country in the world to implement a Code of Practice for Pastoral Care of International Students, which by law requires education providers to provide certain standards of care for students – such as providing accommodation advice and airport transport options for students.