The international education sector is worth NZ$5 billion a year to the country. However, in April only 75 international students entered New Zealand, compared with almost 7,000 student visa holders the previous year.

ENZ explained that its main focus is on supporting and connecting with international students within New Zealand and helping them connect with each other.

“The team’s strategy for student-facing content has prioritised three areas: keeping students updated with official information about Covid-19 in New Zealand, supporting their wellbeing, and keeping New Zealand top of mind for prospective students,” it said.

Using a “three-pronged approach”, the campaign is focusing on growing an audience on NauMai NZ via its ‘Stay well, stay connected‘ page; connecting students through a Facebook support group and “using content created by students, for students” through blogs, video content and Instagram Q&A sessions.

“To ensure we’re reaching our Chinese students on the channels that they use, we are running a Chinese version of the campaign specifically for this audience,” ENZ added.

Students from China make up the largest proportion of international students coming into the country (nearly 45%).

To provide an alternative experience for Chinese students unable to enter New Zealand, the University of Auckland has launched two China learning centres in collaboration with Southwest University in Chongqing and Northeast Forestry University in Harbin.

According to a statement, the university has been providing online teaching for more than 1,000 Chinese students unable to reach the country’s campuses when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, and currently, all students – including domestic – are completing semester 1 study online.

The university said it intends to reopen campuses for semester 2. However, for the Chinese cohort, at this stage, unable to resume their study in Aotearoa, a new alternative has been provided.

“We are pleased to offer an alternative experience to our students in China”

University of Auckland vice-chancellor, Dawn Freshwater, said the learning centres in China would provide certainty to help students and their families in China plan for next steps.

“We are pleased to offer an alternative experience to our students in China who may prefer in-person learning support and the benefits that come from the social dynamics of learning in a group,” she added.

Students will not pay additional costs for the on-campus experience and tutorial support, and those who need to relocate to Chongqing or Harbin will receive some travel support and pay normal tuition rates.

Courses in science, engineering, arts, education, and economics will be delivered through online and recorded lectures while students will be able to work in a group setting with local tutors to facilitate their learning.

Director International, Brett Berquist, said that previously the choice for offshore students in China while waiting for appropriate travel conditions to come to New Zealand was to defer to next year or study online.

The third option provides a local group learning experience but with the same distinctive academic content from Auckland.

“This is possible because of the existing depth of our relationships with SWU and NEFU through the Chinese Ministry of Education approved joint programs,” he noted.

According to local media, The University of Auckland is also considering moving domestic students out of halls of residence to make way for returning international students that need to be quarantined.

“The main focus is on supporting and connecting with international students within New Zealand”

Auckland mayor Phil Goff asked the government to allow the city to test-run a quarantine system that will enable students to enter the country.

“This is in the early stages and theoretical until a decision is made about when international students are able to return. This will also be dependent on the provision of student visas, which can take months to process,” a spokesperson for the university told the NZ Herald.

Goff said there was potential for international students to be quarantined at university hostels.

“We would have separate hostels, or maybe using hotels with strict controls for 14 days… and at the end of the 14 days, we could have confidence that these are people who will not be bringing Covid-19 into the country,” he added.

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