A schedule needs to be set for the safe return of international students to New Zealand, National’s Tertiary Education spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.
"International students play an incredibly important part in our economy, contributing about $5 billion a year and around 47,000 jobs," says Shane.
"Getting these students back in to our education system safely is a sensible way to help kick-start our economy.
"Universities had already agreed with the Ministry of Health on an isolation protocol prior to lockdown and this week Victoria University assured the Epidemic Response Committee that these protocols have been dusted off and tightened up and are ready to go with quarantine measures.
"Arrangements have been described as entry and exit testing for international students from low risk countries in managed physical quarantine facilities for 14 days, effectively the same quarantine as New Zealanders have right now at the border.
"Australia is well advanced towards returning international students and Canada maintained open borders for students during our lockdown. New Zealand competes with Australia and Canada for international students so we need to be timely in reassuring offshore students they can study in New Zealand and enable local education providers to plan and return to business," says Shane.
"Universities, polytechnics and private training establishments all identify international students as being the single biggest manageable factor in retaining jobs and getting up and running.
"The Education Minister needs to confirm the quarantine protocol and set a schedule for international students to return so our tertiary sector can stay afloat."