The Government will grant 250 PhD and postgraduate international students entry into New Zealand after establishing a new category in its border exception policy.
Education minister Chris Hipkins said the exception recognised the “vital role” international education would play in the recovery and rebuild of the economy.
“It will enable us to welcome back a good portion of those PhD and Masters students who are caught off-shore, and who need to be in New Zealand to complete their work,” he said.
“These are students who hold or held a visa for 2020, and whose long-term commitment to study here was disrupted by Covid-19. Priority will be given first to those who need to be in the country for the practical components of their research and study.”
To date, the Government had granted 10,400 exceptions for people such as essential health workers, other critical workers and family of New Zealand citizens or permanent residents.
“Just last month, new exceptions were announced for some normally resident temporary visa holders, more partners of New Zealanders, and a limited number of veterinarians, deep water fishing crew and agricultural and horticultural mobile plant operators,” Hipkins said.
“The health, safety and wellbeing of people in New Zealand remains the Government’s top priority. Tight border restrictions remain critical to protecting New Zealanders against Covid-19 and ensuring that Kiwis can return home.”
Hipkins said the number of international students granted entry was a small proportion of what was normally seen in New Zealand.
“I acknowledge that other international education providers, such as schools and Private Training Establishments, will be disappointed that their students are not a part of this border exception group.
“Our approach is pragmatic and allows us to carefully manage the demand on our quarantine facilities and the complex nature of bringing students back into the country.”
Hipkins added the Government would review other possible border exceptions when it was safe to do so.
The first students were likely to arrive in November 2020, with the majority arriving in the new year.
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