$51.6m attempt to stabilise international education post-COVID

As many of our school leavers start fighting for university places, the Government has released a long-term strategic recovery plan, backed by $51.6 million investment from the COVID recovery and response fund, to help stabilise New Zealand’s international education sector.

“The Government is acutely aware of the challenges the sector is currently facing,” Chris Hipkins said.

We are sensitive to the impact the unexpected loss of revenue will have had on international education providers and the investment announced today will help cushion the blow.

“New Zealand’s international education sector has an opportunity to benefit from the strong international reputation we have gained through our handling of the COVID-19 crisis.”

The three parts of the recovery plan will run concurrently and include:

  • stabilising the international education sector,
  • strengthening the system by ensuring the regulatory settings, policies and practices to support the recovery and rebuild
  • accelerating the transformation of the sector signalled in the International Education Strategy launched in 2018.

“Ultimately we want an international education system that’s mutually good for students, providers, and benefits New Zealand economically and socially.

“This work sits within the Government’s final plank of our five point economic recovery plan to continue to position New Zealand globally as a place to trade with, to invest in, and eventually to visit again,” Chris Hipkins said.

To stabilise the international education system, Hipkins unveiled the following investments:

  • $20 million in support for state and state-integrated schools for the remainder of 2020 to continue to employ the specialist international workforce to continue teaching and providing pastoral care to international students who remain in New Zealand. $10 million for Private Training Establishments (PTEs) including English language schools to buffer the sharp decline in revenue and maintain a foundation of PTEs for the recovery phase.
  • $10 million to develop new future-focused products and services to drive growth in our system onshore and offshore, to ensure a more resilient sector. This will include:
    • Allowing students to begin studying from their home country to provide greater flexibility for learners and make our international education sector more resilient to shocks such as COVID-19.     
    • A unified digital platform to provide a single strong New Zealand brand and presence to enable providers to deliver study programmes to more people offshore.
  • $6.6 million to continue the pastoral care and other activities for international students, subject to the proposed cancellation of Export Education Levy payments until the end of 2021.
  • $3 million for marketing activities to keep New Zealand’s education brand visible in key markets while travel is restricted. 
  • $1.5 million for English Language Schools to deliver English language training to migrants to help them to succeed in our schools and communities. 
  • $500k to develop a quality assurance process to ensure the ongoing quality of a New Zealand education being delivered offshore.

“This funding builds on the work the Government has already been doing to support providers and students, including wage subsidies, enabling PTEs to hibernate, establishing an international student hardship fund, and removing the requirement for providers to pay the export education levy in 2020 and 2021,” Chris Hipkins said.

“I know much of the recovery is dependent on when New Zealand will open its borders to international students, and providers are eager to get timeframes on when any changes to the border closure will be made.

“While the pandemic is still raging overseas, our borders are our first line of defence against COVID-19. Given the current global situation, I would expect providers to plan for no international students for the rest of the year.

“I do, however, recognise the vital role international education will play as we recover and rebuild. The Government will allow international students to return when it’s safe to do so,” Chris Hipkins said.

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