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NZ schools lobby for earlier opening

New Zealand language schools are working closely with government agencies and other sectors of international education to press for the early entry of some cohorts of students. This follows a government announcement that fully vaccinated international students will be let back into the country from 30 April 2022, five months later than arch-rival Australia.

Speaking to the New Zealand Herald, Darren Conway, chair of local language school association English New Zealand, pointed out that the April date was well after the beginning of the country’s academic year, which falls between late January and February.

“The problem is that we’re so much behind everybody else and New Zealand will just, I think, permanently lose market share to the rest of the world because of how slow we have been to act,” he said.

New figures from a survey of 1,000 agents bear out his fears. Figures released by Australian international education giant Navitas show New Zealand’s handling of Covid means it was placed fourth out of five in a list of attractive study destinations. New Zealand was slightly ahead of Australia, but well behind Canada and the UK and, in third place, the US – whose scores as a study destination have soared since the advent of the Biden administration. 

By contrast, a survey of the same agents in May 2020 put New Zealand in first place because of the country’s rapid and strict reaction at the start of the pandemic.

New Zealand’s language schools are now ‘hanging on by their fingernails’, with several school closures and eight going into official ‘hibernation’ wherein they are listed by the government as not currently operating while still accredited. These include five members of the 20-strong association, including local branches of two international chains: EF and Kaplan. At least two more English New Zealand schools are unofficially hibernating, the Gazette understands.

According to Darren Conway, pent-up demand will mean member schools will bounce back. “If we could get, say, 1,000 English language students into New Zealand before April next year, with additional students flowing in regularly after 1 May, it would have a very positive impact on our sub-sector,” a spokesperson for English New Zealand told the Gazette, adding that there would be “a positive flow-on affect for other sectors.”

Image courtesy of Lucas W from Pexels
Melanie Butler
Melanie Butler
Melanie started teaching EFL in Iran in 1975. She worked for the BBC World Service, Pearson/Longman and MET magazine before taking over at the Gazette in 1987 and also launching Study Travel magazine. Educated in ten schools in seven countries, she speaks fluent French and Spanish and rather rusty Italian.
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