Wellington: The New Zealand government has established a new category that will allow 250 international PhD and postgraduate students to enter New Zealand and continue their studies in the latest set of COVID-19 border exceptions.
“The health, safety and wellbeing of people in New Zealand remain the government’s top priority. Tight border restrictions remain critical to protecting New Zealanders against COVID-19 and ensuring that Kiwis can return home,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said in a statement on Monday. He is also the minister of health.
“There are many calls on the government to grant exceptions. So far around 10,400 exceptions have been granted for people such as essential health workers, other critical workers and family of New Zealand citizens or permanent residents,” Hipkins said.
Just last month, new exceptions were announced for some normally resident temporary visa holders, more partners of New Zealanders, and a limited number of veterinarians, deep water fishing crew and agricultural and horticultural mobile plant operators, he said.
Monday’s exception was a balanced decision that recognizes the vital role international education will play in the recovery and rebuild of New Zealand and the need to continue the fight against the pandemic, the minister said.
“It will enable us to welcome back a good portion of those PhD and Masters students who are caught off-shore, and who need to be in New Zealand to complete their work,” he said.
These are students who hold or held a visa for 2020, and whose long-term commitment to study here was disrupted by COVID-19. Priority will be given first to those who need to be in the country for the practical components of their research and study, Hipkins said, adding the first students are likely to arrive in November 2020, with the majority arriving in the new year.
“Allowing these students to travel to New Zealand is a step in the right direction for the international education sector,” he said.
International PhDs and other postgraduate students make a significant contribution to New Zealand’s research and innovation systems and boost the global reputations and competitiveness of the institutions, Hipkins added.