Calls for PSW for sub-degree programs in NZ

 In News

Sub-degree programs in New Zealand need to be able to offer post-study work rights, the peak body representing the country’s private training providers has said.

The Independent Tertiary Education NZ says that degree level and above is currently able to see better growth than sub-degree level programs, with post-study work opportunities impacting students’ decisions.

“The visa settings are not favourable for sub-degree programs,” ITENZ chief executive, Wayne Dyer, told The PIE.

“The post-study work rights have been more restrictive for the sub-degree programs and that has impacted quite a lot of providers – for them, that’s a critical issue.”

The association, which represents some 140 private training establishments in New Zealand (between 43-50 of whom actively recruit for international students), is lobbying the government for increased work opportunities.

New rules were brought in for non-degree level courses in 2022, meaning that students on courses below level 7 – unless the qualification is included in a specific skill shortage list – could no longer gain access to work in the country after finishing their studies.

The decision came in after a consultation process was announced in 2018. However, ITENZ is understood to be buoyed by a change in government last year, with the National party’s manifesto featuring post-study work pledges.

Christopher Luxon’s party, which went on to win the election, said it would raise the number of work hours during studies from 20 to 24 per week and expanded work rights for international students and their partners.

During the election campaign, the party’s tertiary education spokesperson Penny Simmonds said that New Zealand needed to “get sectors that can provide much-needed export earnings like international education back on their feet as soon as possible”.

Chief executive officer at Latin America New Zealand Business CouncilGiuliana Silveira, who is also working with ITENZ, said that visa settings were top of mind for its members.

“Immigration New Zealand [needs to] process visas in a timely manner, visa refusal [must be] minimal, especially after the investment that providers are making after Covid. They are beginning to rebuild their capability within their own schools,” she said.

Providers are seeking to rehire staff, rebuild relationships with agents and build marketing and sales capabilities, she detailed.

“With the new government, visa settings are something we are lobbying for on behalf of the members. Post-study work rights for sub-degree need to change so that the sector can better attract international students.”

“Post-study work rights for sub-degree need to change so that the sector can better attract international students”

According to Dyer, government has talked about doubling its export earnings from international education, although exact targets have not yet been clarified.

“It’s not really clear from what point the doubling happens, but basically to bring it back to where it used to be,” he told The PIE.

“In order for that to happen, we need to rebuild awareness of New Zealand internationally because we disappeared off some agent menus because we were closed. Getting back on those menus is important.”

Work after study is an expectation from some learners, but not all, Dyer acknowledged.

The PTE sector also needs to build its messaging around the fact it offers small classes, is “learner-centred”, connected to industry and that it is flexible and adaptable, he said.

But for maximum efficacy, post-study work rights are “critical”.

The government needs to have a joined up approach ensuring education and immigration are giving the same message, he continued.

“It’s important that government understands that post-study work is not necessarily the same as migration, but sometimes they conflate it. And I think sometimes there’s concern that post-study work rights equals migration, whereas it doesn’t.”

The post Calls for PSW for sub-degree programs in NZ appeared first on The PIE News.

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