Market intelligence for international student recruitment from ICEF
4th Feb 2022

New Zealand confirms border reopening; first international students to return April 2022

Short on time? Here are the highlights:
  • An initial cohort of 5,000 international students will be allowed to return in April 2022
  • Most international students will need to plan for 2023, however, as visa services for students will not fully ramp up again until October 2022

New Zealand will reopen its border in five stages throughout 2022, with fully vaccinated international students prioritised for the third stage beginning 12 April, when 5,000 international students will be allowed to return for the second semester of the academic year under a special border exemption category. More details about the selection process for those 5,000 students are forthcoming, but what is known is that the new cohort will be in addition to 1,000 students who were approved for entry in 2022 last fall.

Education New Zealand (ENZ) Chief Executive Chris Whelan adds there “is also an opportunity for students from Visa Waiver countries such as Japan and South Korea to enter New Zealand from July for short visits of up to three months.”

By October 2022, visa processing systems for the applications of all international students will be up and running. This effectively means that the vast majority of students who want to study in New Zealand will need to plan for 2023.

Charting the gradual reopening

The five stages of the border opening – and how they affect various classes of traveller – are summarised here in this outline from Radio New Zealand:

Source: Radio New Zealand

Too little too late?

New Zealand’s educators have known for some time of plans for a phased border reopening and will not be surprised by the timeframe. The return of some students this year will of course be welcome. But despite ENZ’s Mr McPherson calling the gradual opening of the border an “opportunity to rebuild and reshape” the sector, the fact remains that most international students will not return to New Zealand campuses until 2023. By then, Australia will have been accepting students for months, and other leading destinations will have welcomed international students for much longer than that.

Universities New Zealand Chief Executive Chris Whelan told Radio New Zealand last year that this represents a real problem for the country’s educators, who face a challenging new competitive landscape: “[New Zealand] will be the last of the traditional international education countries that will be still either closed to international students or requiring students to come through managed isolation.” (Editor’s note: It now appears that students will not need to enter managed isolation facilities but rather be required to self-isolate.)

Reacting to the news this week that the date for the 5,000 students’ ability to return is now set for 12 April, Mr Whelan told media website Stuff,

“At least some international university students will be able to make it onshore for the start of semester two, although only a small proportion of the number we know are clamouring to get here.”

He reiterated: “Australia, the US, UK and Canada are now all fully reopened to international students, but New Zealand won’t be until October…leaving us a year or more behind those competitor countries.”

Australia’s quick pivot towards welcoming international students back and offering them extended work hours and rights will also bear on New Zealand’s competitive position. According to Australian immigration minister Alex Hawke, Australia has quickly been regaining international students since reopening late last year, with 7,000 or so students arriving in the final week of January 2022. Mr Hawke told Times Higher Education that “his department had received more than 50,000 applications for student visas over that period and extra staff had been assigned to process them.”

For any international students with hopes of returning to New Zealand as part of the 2022 April border exception of 5,000 students, ENZ’s Mr McPherson emphasised that “students who have questions about this border class exception should contact their agent or preferred education provider in the first instance.”

For additional background please see:

Most Recent

  • The rise of alternative destinations: Thailand, Poland, and the Philippines Read More
  • Comparing student visa proof of funds requirements across 20 study destinations Read More
  • ICEF Podcast: Start-ups in international education: disrupters or innovators? Read More

Most Popular

  • Canada’s foreign enrolment grew by more than 30% in 2022 Read More
  • Measuring cost of study and cost of living across study destinations Read More
  • Recruiting in the Emirates: Big goals, world-class education, and new scholarships Read More

Because you found this article interesting

The rise of alternative destinations: Thailand, Poland, and the Philippines A growing body of industry research shows that in 2024, international students are considering a wider range of...
Read more
Comparing student visa proof of funds requirements across 20 study destinations In recent months, some major study abroad destinations have increased the amount of available, guaranteed funds that international...
Read more
France hosted 412,000 foreign students in 2022/23 Campus France has released its international student enrolment data for 2022/23, and in contrast to the double-digit percentage...
Read more
The impact of immigration settings, affordability, and job opportunities on international students’ study abroad decisions New research underlines the extent to which international students look closely at work opportunities and immigration policy in...
Read more
Hong Kong needs to build more student housing In his October 2023 address, Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee set out some ambitious goals for the...
Read more
Canadian immigration minister releases official cap figures and targets for 2024 In many respects, the implementation of Canada’s newly established cap on international student enrolment has been shrouded in...
Read more
Australia: Record-high foreign enrolment but tighter immigration settings now taking hold The Australian government has further increased its scrutiny of international student applicants in an effort to ensure incoming...
Read more
Business school survey again signals declining non-EU enrolment in UK The most recent survey from the Chartered Association of Business Schools in the UK reveals that, “International student...
Read more
What are you looking for?
Quick Links