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10,000 international students is New Zealand's best case scenario this year

The new semester begins in February-March for most universities.
BY BrainGain Magazine Staff Writer |   29-01-2021

BrainGain Magazine
Image Credit - New Scientist

According to Universities New Zealand, the average number of international students that arrive in the country at this time is 21,000. But Chris Whelan, UNZ Chief Executive, said he is not sure about the overall numbers this year. He told The Pie News that “Worst case, it might be about 7,000 or 8,000 students starting this semester, best case it’s going to be around 10,000.” Radio New Zealand reported him as saying that the number would cause serious financial difficulties for the universities.

But the government is being cautious. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told the media that she expected New Zealand’s borders to be impacted for most of the year. She added that while the country was exploring travel arrangements with Australia and the Pacific, opening up the country to the rest of the world posed “too great a risk to our health and our economy.”

Approximately 5000 international students are stuck outside the borders. But the government has announced plans to gradually allow 1000 students to re-enter. This will only include students already accepted for study at NZ institutions. That means new international students will be ineligible.

Chris Whelan said he was happy at the step forward however small, “It’s so fantastic to get them coming into, it’s a little late and certainly in smaller numbers than we’d like. But it’s a step in the right direction.” However, he told media that he hoped the government would collaborate more closely with industry in opening up the borders.

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