New Zealand sees ‘catastrophic’ drop in Indian student visas

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Wellington, Nov 30 (IANS) New Zealand has seen a sharp drop in new study visas issued to Indian students in the past five months compared to earlier mainly due to tighter visa rules, a media report said on Wednesday.

Between the start of July and the end of October Immigration New Zealand approved 3,102 visas, just 48 per cent of the 6,462 visas approved in the same period in 2015, said New Zealand’s public broadcaster Radio New Zealand.

The decline was due to tighter rules for, and monitoring of, study visa applications from India as many students were arriving with limited money and less proficiency of English to study in New Zealand.

The Auckland International Education Group, which represents 16 private tertiary institutions, said the government had gone too far. The group’s spokesman Paul Chalmers said Immigration New Zealand’s Mumbai office was turning down too many potential students.

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“It’s a matter of loosening up in Mumbai and saying ‘this is now a catastrophic collapse’,” Radio New Zealand quoted Chalmers as saying.

Chalmers said the government is right to tighten English language requirements, but in some cases it is not clear why students are being refused visas.

He also said he expected the number of visa approvals would rise, but not to the highs of previous years.

Richard Goodall, international education spokesperson of Independent Tertiary Education New Zealand (ITENZ), said good institutions would cope with the fall in enrolments from India, but others might go out of business. ITENZ represents several hundred private tertiary institutions.

Goodall also said the number of visa approvals was lower, but the calibre of students was higher. Polytechnics which enrol a lot of Indian students, were not as hard hit as the private sector.

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Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce said the lower number of new visa approvals was likely to continue for a while. He also said Immigration New Zealand was not being too tough.

“Don’t forget what we’re doing here is we’re focusing on the things that are important for students to succeed here in terms of their English-language capability and their ability to support themselves financially when they’re in New Zealand.

“So I make no apology for making sure that those things are followed up on and the declarations students make are correct.”

A correction to the Indian market was needed, Joyce said, and added that he expected numbers would grow again.

“It will probably be slower growth than what we saw in the previous two or three years. “But India is always going to be one of the top markets.”

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Joyce said he did not expect any institutions would go out of business because of the fall in the number of visas for new students from India.



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