How has COVID-19 changed New Zealand’s $5 billion International Education (IE) sector and how can the industry recover?

Contributing more than $115 million to our region annually, and supporting over 1220 jobs, international education played a significant role in our regions economy prior to COVID-19. Previously, Manawatū was home to more than 3000 international students. The rapid change in international student numbers has undoubtedly impacted our local communities.

Along with the economic benefits, international education plays a prominent role in our society too. IE connects our communities with different cultures, and creates potential ambassadors and champions for our region, and even investors or future residents of Palmerston North and Manawatū.

CEDA’s using the research and insights recently released by ISANA NZ’s (International Education Association) to inform our planning to support our regions sustainable recovery and growth now and into the future.

“As a region, we have a long history of collaborating to deliver positive outcomes for our international learners and for this sector,” says Sara Towers, Talent and Skills Manager at CEDA, “CEDA has been working with key stakeholders and partners to develop the new Manawatū International Education Strategy for the 2020-2024 period to navigate the changing international education space.”

International Education Recovery Survey

ISANA NZ (International Education Association) a dedicated association promoting professional pathways, sector-specific credentials and innovative practice to serve the international education sector, recently released the International Education Recovery Survey Summary.

“The Survey was supported by SIEBA (Schools International Education Business Association) and other regional education bodies to gain valuable insights and understanding on the impact and challenges of the sector and to identify what support is needed,” says Towers. “The main concerns are primarily around the uncertainty of border re-openings, loss in revenue and job cuts.”
The data from the survey will be used to inform the regions recovery and growth strategies in international education and to develop a National Recovery Plan, together with Education New Zealand (ENZ), other EDAs and the Ministry of Education (MoE).

“A collaborative and a coordinated approach is critical for supporting practitioner resilience and enabling sector recovery. We’re looking for pragmatic, innovative solutions to the profound impacts that this has had on regions across Aotearoa.” adds Beard.

The impact of COVID-19

Currently, tertiary providers are experiencing major losses as students cannot enter New Zealand. Some students are alternatively choosing to study at other education institutions in countries with no border restrictions. The loss of revenue from international student fees due to the border closures is leaving education providers with limited options and thus skilled frontline staff are being laid off or having their hours cut.

While our nations’ elimination policy for COVID-19 is inarguably world leading and paying off dividends, we still need to ensure the catastrophic impacts are being balanced and kept front of mind.

“The profound economic, social and educational impacts on education providers and local communities are only just beginning to be felt. Homestay families, eateries, hairdressers, inner city retailers, education businesses, teachers, support staff and lecturers, among others are adversely affected.” says Chirs Beard, Executive Officer at ISANA NZ.

Most foreign travel to New Zealand remains suspended with a halt on temporary visa visitors, including study visas and currently only 1,125 international students have been granted permission to return to New Zealand.

International Education Recovery Survey Summary

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