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New Zealand continues to refine visa processing and quality controls

Today we turn to New Zealand to discover which markets the country is prioritising to grow the international education industry. We also offer a reminder that Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has some upcoming changes to visa processing for the Americas and Europe. In addition, we alert our readers to the news that four private tertiary education providers are no longer able to process student visa applications until they are fully compliant.

Changes to visa processing for the Americas and Europe

In an effort to improve processing timeliness, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) will no longer provide visa services in three South American locations as well as in five European locations. The provision of these services will transition from MFAT to INZ.

  • On 27 November 2012, a Visa Application Centre (VAC) will be established in Washington DC and this will be the receiving office for the applications that are currently submitted to Brasilia, Buenos Aires, and Santiago.
  • On 10 December 2012, a VAC will be established in London and this will be the receiving office for the applications that are currently submitted to Berlin, Brussels, Geneva, Paris and Rome.

Any applications lodged prior to 27 November 2012 (for the Americas) and 10 December 2012 (for Europe) will continue to be processed and assessed as currently.

INZ has already established VACs in India, Russia, the Philippines, China, the Pacific and most recently in North Asia.

These transition plans are part of INZ’s movement towards a new global service delivery model for visa processing; this new online system is known as IGMS (Immigration Global Management System).

The first delivery from IGMS will be online student applications from late 2013.

More information on applying for student visas is on the INZ website.

Strict on standards

Editor’s Note: In late November, reported that four private tertiary education providers had their intake of foreign students suspended after they were found to be in breach of their obligations to international students:

  • National Institute of Studies
  • EDENZ Colleges Ltd
  • Aotearoa Tertiary Institute
  • New Zealand School of Business and Government

However, one month later, INZ resumed the processing of student visa applications for all four Private Training Establishments (PTEs).

The debacle came about following an investigation by New Zealand Qualification Authority and INZ, where they reportedly found students studying for less than the minimum 20 hours per week, misleading or poorly maintained attendance records, a failure to deposit student fees in full into their Student Fee Protection trust accounts and fee discrepancies at the PTEs.

INZ General Manager Peter Elms said the breaches were “jeopardising the quality of the education provided to their international students,” and affecting the global reputation of New Zealand’s education system.

“The actions of a handful of PTEs can have serious implications for the reputation of New Zealand as a quality education destination,” Mr Elms said.

At the time, NZQA’s Deputy Chief Executive, Tim Fowler, said the four PTEs had undermined the integrity of New Zealand’s export education industry, worth an estimated NZ $2.7 billion a year: “The vast majority of PTEs have an excellent reputation and do a very good job. This action sends a strong message to the industry that these sorts of breaches will not be tolerated.”

EDENZ’s strong reaction to the allegations encouraged the High Court to lift the suspensions in place at all four PTEs in order to allow them the opportunity to respond to the investigation’s findings. INZ will work with the PTEs to address any outstanding areas of non-compliance and their progress will be reviewed in 2013.

Prioritising markets

Education New Zealand (ENZ) has announced that prioritising markets is a critical part of their strategy to grow the international education industry.

Following industry consultation with 5000 contacts, analysis of growth potential and current gaps in education provision, and ease of market access and development, ENZ has ranked the following markets where, in 2012-13, they are devoting most of their resources:

Tier 1 countries:

  • China
  • India
  • Indonesia

Tier 2 countries / regions:

  • Malaysia
  • South Korea
  • Middle East
  • Thailand
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Vietnam

For the Tier 1 countries, they have commissioned three market research reports – two for India and one Indonesia. One from each country will be available before the end of 2012. The second India report, and another on China, will be released in early 2013.

Japan and Europe have been targeted for further investigation to understand industry needs. In these “mature” markets ENZ will support initiatives where there is strong industry support and a clear return on investment.

For additional reading, Education New Zealand has also released their 2011-2012 Annual Report.

Tourism sector looking strong

In further news also highlighting the importance of China, New Zealand’s tourism sector outlook: Forecasts for 2012-2018 predicts international visitor spending will grow 9% by December 2018, recovering from a sharp slowdown brought on by the global financial crisis. Visitor numbers are expected to rise by 28% in the same period.

Acting General Manager Adrienne Meikle says the forecasts point to a significant structural shift in New Zealand’s tourism industry.

“Traditional markets like the United Kingdom and United States will continue to decline in the absence of any active market intervention, but this will be off-set by strong growth from China and Australia.”

Tourism Industry Association Chief Executive Martin Snedden says the new forecasts show where efforts need to be made to underpin growth predictions or to lift market performance. There are a number of initiatives underway or beginning shortly which will significantly influence visitor numbers and spend over the next six years.

“Clearly China will be a big growth market but there is no room for complacency. We need to ensure that we keep improving the quality of the visitor experience to secure greater spend from this important sector.”

For additional background on how New Zealand has been crafting a powerful cocktail of education, tourism, work abroad and volunteering abroad in order to generate revenue for the nation and bolster its reputation, we recommend our previous articles:

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