Universities New Zealand has strongly backed employment rights for international students, claiming it massively benefits New Zealand.
Chris Whelan, Chief Executive of Universities New Zealand, said in a press release that the long-term reputational and financial impact of offering employment rights to international students far exceeds any short-term benefits to New Zealanders, and makes the country an attractive migration destination for international students and skilled migrants.
He also said that obtaining work experience in NZ as an international student – particularly through research – allows them to drive innovation in the country and contribute towards creating new jobs for NZ residents, which consequently also boosts the country’s economy.
According to Education New Zealand’s economic analysis, the average value of each international student is around $320,000, which is crucial to the country’s economy.
The revenues generated by international students provide massive relief to the broader funding system and allows universities to offer a wider variety of courses to domestic students, for instance by making smaller programs viable which would otherwise be rendered insufficient by the enrolment of domestic students alone.
Moreover, international students who are given post-study work rights can also recommend NZ and its opportunities to fellow students, thus opening doors to possibilities such as joint-research with foreign universities, as well as promoting tourism.
International students who work in the hospitality, retail and food sectors provide a helping hand to the country’s employment levels, especially since there is usually a shortage of qualified New Zealanders in these occupations.
In addition, international students also enrich the cultural diversity of institutions they represent, and create more permanent jobs for New Zealanders than they themselves fill, which encourages adjusting New Zealand’s skilled migration policies to utilise the contributions of international students fully.
Mr Whelan also said that international students could satisfy New Zealand’s long-term labour market needs, and providing post-study work visas for PhD students benefits not only the development of their careers but also the universities and the country as a whole.