Revelations that a $261 million hit to the New Zealand economy each year is the best case scenario under the Government’s plan to cut the number of international students will be of little comfort to our international education industry, National’s Tertiary Education spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“The international education industry is now our fourth largest export industry, worth about $4.5 billion to the economy and employing around 30,000 people.

“I’d have thought this was something to celebrate but the new Government appears intent on downsizing the industry by cutting the number of international students and limiting the work rights of prospective students.

“These changes would make the New Zealand international education industry uncompetitive and have far-reaching impacts, including shortages in our hospitality and retail workforces.

“If a $261 million hit to our economy each year is the best we can hope for under the Government’s plans, I’d hate to consider what the worst case scenario would be.

“The ‘best case scenario’ is based on a reduction of 10,000 international students and assuming that changes to work rights are successfully targeted to the lower-value tertiary sector.

“But Labour was clear during the election campaign that its policy was to reduce the number of international students by between 15,000 and 22,000 per year – that’s around a quarter of all incoming students which would mean a significantly larger impact on the economy.

“It demonstrates a reckless attitude by the Government thinking that it can undermine big parts of our successful economy without real impacts on real people.”

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