NZ: Exploitation at the centre of post-study work changes


The New Zealand government has divulged new post-study work rights with a prominence on reducing exploitation in the workplace, with an aim to see the country upsurge others to offer the second most generous PSW rights in the world. This announced changes will come into force on November 26. Hence, the change will overhaul New Zealand’s post-study work rights, with the arrangements available to all current student and
post-study work visa holders.

According to the immigration minister Iain Lees-Galloway, “The government has acted on the feedback received in over 2,000 submissions.” Further, he added, changes to post-study work rights will boost New Zealand’s economy, reduce student exploitation and promote our regional
education offerings.

The new rights will see those who receive a study visa for Level 7 bachelor’s degree or higher provided a three-year open post-study work visa, while Level 4-6 students who have studied a minimum of 60 weeks will receive a one-year open visa. Level 7 will also be eligible for a two-year visa if they complete their qualification by December 2021.

The new arrangements have removed the employer-assisted work visa as the minister quoted that the government wanted to get rid of employer-assisted visa because they think it is a source of exploitation.

Students and workers already in New Zealand, those who currently hold a study visa will automatically receive a three-year open work visa. And those in their first year of a post-study work visa will be eligible for a two-year extension, or to have their employer removed from their visa if they already hold an employer-assisted extension.

These changes were welcomed by New Zealand’s international education industry, who are praising the government for taking consultation and changing their proposed work rights adjustments.

During the initial draft, there were several concerns related to those offering non-degree Level 7 qualifications but now one year Level 7 graduate diploma and non-degree qualifications will receive one-year work rights with an additional year if working towards recognition, which will help the country address skills shortages as quoted by John Diggins, head deputy chief executive at Early Childhood New Zealand. “This enables initial education providers to attract suitable international students who can then come study a graduate diploma,” he quoted further.

These new changes are a remarkable turnaround from those proposed during last year’s NZIEC, which appeared to clampdown and remove a significant number of work rights. Instead, New Zealand will sit behind only Canada in the least restrictive conditions, and surpass
Australia’s two-year offering for undergraduates. Also, they are aware of the fact that they are competing for these international students with a range of other countries around the world like Canada, Australia Universities, as quoted by New Zealand chief executive.
The frame that they’re looking at that through is ‘what are their opportunities to adjust their setting to improve outcomes for the students’, added by Lees-Galloway. But the news isn’t all positive, as the minister said the focus would shift away from a “bums on seats” and that of quality over quantity.

Below the degree level, where work rights have been limited, the government said the changes could lead to a reduction of 1,200 to 6,000 fewer students, which it estimates would mean between $12m-59m less in tuition fee revenue.
New Zealand experienced a dip in enrolments last year, however, the industry is viewing those numbers, as well as the changes as a readjustment to the industry.

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