Late last year IMSED (International Migration & Settlement Dynamics, a service of the Department of Labour) released results on a study of international students in New Zealand. The study had some significant findings that have shred some much needed light on New Zealand’s fifth largest export market, the $2.3 billion international student market. Despite baseless criticism that International students take up seats in New Zealand educational institutions, IMSEAD’s research helps to show the valuable contribution international students make to New Zealand’s economy.
International students choose to study in New Zealand because New Zealand is an English-speaking country, the cost of education is lower compared to other OECD countries, there are perceived work opportunities and you can apply for residence after study. Every year New Zealand receives 70,000 international students, with 75 % of these students originating from Asia. These students make up 2.1% of our tertiary enrolment, giving New Zealand the highest percentage of international students in the OECD on a per capita basis. With International students playing such an important part financially to New Zealand it is imperative that the Government through the Ministry of Education and Immigration New Zealand ensure that robust policies are in place to protect International Students from exploitation. Too often we find International Students, primarily those from Asia, coaxed into courses of study that will not achieve their long-term objectives. Some education institutes appear to ready to accept the student’s international fees without giving appropriate guidance and Immigration New Zealand appears to allow this to happen. Both the Ministry of Education and Immigration New Zealand need to ensure that there are robust procedures in place in order to protect vulnerable students and therefore the International Student market overall.
The study revealed that 31% of fee paying international students go on to work or apply for permanent residence in New Zealand after study. At 72%, Indian students were the most likely to work in New Zealand after study. This is most likely due attractive job opportunities in New Zealand compared to those in India. Chinese students transitioned to work at a rate of 43%. Based on the transition rate it was clear that country of origin had the greatest influence on the transition to work, where gender, age and field studied had lesser effects. This shows that those with the most incentive to achieve do so by their hard work and dedication.
The main reasons that students wanted to live in New Zealand were for the New Zealand lifestyle, safety, security as well further educational opportunities. Job opportunities were not cited as a reason for wanting to stay in New Zealand; there are more opportunities in their home countries, particularly China where it is more and more common for workers who have an International qualification to obtain better positions back home. With the high economic growth in China, there are better work opportunities for successful students who have studied overseas, a reversal of the perception held of Asian students previously.
According to ListNZ finding, 68% of international students were in full time employment within 18 months of receiving permanent residence, and 48% had continued their study after gaining residence. This shows that International students have a valuable contribution to make to New Zealand employers. This fact should not be underestimated by employers and recruitment agencies in particular. The fact that a work visa may be required does not necessarily present a barrier for employers who require the skills that these students have. Woburn International Limited, with over 21 years of busines is, very experienced in completing visa requirements.