After a long wait, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has announced changes to the student visa policy, initially as a 12-month Pilot Programme.
The new initiative, called, The Pathway Student Visa Pilot,’ has the potential of culling the Indian student market, which currently accounts for about 50% of our international student market.
Let us see how they propose to do this.
According to INZ, the ‘Pathway Student Visa Pilot’ will operate for 18 months from December 7. 2015. This type of visa allows a student to undertake up to three consecutive programmes of study on a single student visa. It can be granted up to a maximum of five years, removing the need to apply for a new student visa each time as they progress on their education pathway.
INZ stated that participating education providers can offer a range of consecutive programmes of study either within their own institution or in conjunction with other selected education providers.
The key features of the Programme are (1) More than 400 education providers have been invited to participate in the Pilot (2) Participating education providers who intend offering a study pathway in conjunction with one another must enter into a formal agreement to manage pastoral care and education progress (3) Most study pathways will be eligible under the pilot. A number of study pathways that are made up entirely of lower level programs will be excluded.
The Pathway does not include (a) Any English language programme of study to any Level 1-4 Certificate on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF) (b) All pathways within and between NZQF Levels 1-4 Certificates and (c) Secondary school to any NZQF Levels 1–4 Certificates
One of the Pathway student visa requirements is English language. It states that an applicant must submit an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test with the pathway student visa application if the intention is (1) To undertake a study pathway that begins with an English language course leading to a programme of study at levels 5 to 8 on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (2) and if the students are from a country that has an annual decline rate of more than 20% for student visa applications.
However, a number of other equivalent tests will be acceptable to INZ. They include Test of English as a Foreign Language internet-Based Test (TOEFL iBT); Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic; Cambridge English: First (FCE) test; and Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) test.
Reducing Indian students
India had a decline rate in the last financial year close to 50%. This is the case despite the highest numbers of international students in New Zealand being from India. Student applicants from this country must now meet the above requirements.
They must demonstrate that they need an improvement of an IELTS 0.5 band score (or equivalent) to gain entry in to the intended level 5 to 8 course.
INZ accepts English language tests as mentioned above but the English language course must be completed within a 16-week period.
This policy is an attempt to control the overwhelming interest from the Indian student market. The attempt is to control the intake by selecting those that are interested in an education outcome rather than an immigration outcome but given the length of this pathway the immigration pathway should be plausible to achieve as an outcome.
Secondly, it aims to provide incentives to education providers to engage with education recruiters who provide them with students that are the right fit and who are enrolling in high value courses and who meet the English requirement. These education providers have acquired a preferred status via virtue of being on this list.
New Zealand encourages international students, preferably from a wealthy background. seeking with English language ability seeking high education and not those using the education process as a pathway to achieve Permanent Residence status and are exploited in the process.
There are still many ‘troublesome aspects’ which the new Policy does not address.
I will explain those in another issue.
Time will tell how the new Policy will work.
Kamil Lakshman is a Lawyer & Principal of Wellington based law firm Idesi Legal Limited. She can be contacted on (04) 4616018 or 021-1598803. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org; The opinions expressed in her article above are her own and not that of Idesi Legal Limited or the New Zealand Law Society, or its Wellington Branch, or its affiliated bodies and committees or Indian Newslink. Readers can send their comments (names can be withheld) to email@example.com