The Government’s proposed changes to post-study work rights for international students could cost New Zealand 1000 jobs and up to $1.4 billion, just as the economy starts to cool and unemployment starts to rise, say National’s Tertiary Education spokespeople Paula Bennett and Simeon Brown.

“The Government’s proposed changes to post-study work rights have prompted forecasts from Aspire2 that show there could be a direct hit to the economy of up to $1.4 billion and result in a loss of up to 1000 jobs,” says Mrs Bennett.

“Today we’ve seen unemployment rise for the first time since 2016 as business confidence drops to its lowest level in a decade. Despite this, the Government seems intent on decimating a $4.5 billion sector.

“The Government’s changes are being made on the basis of preventing exploitation, which they should rightly be concerned with, but they should use some of their free-fees funding to boost the New Zealand Labour Inspectorate, instead of potentially crushing the sector.

“These changes risk driving education exports to countries like Canada who have clear and attractive policy settings for international students. Is the Government happy for Canadians to benefit from that $1.4 billion spend rather Kiwis?”

“Aspire2 also estimate that enrolments will drop by up to 90 per cent, forcing them to cut jobs and close a number of campuses which may force them out of the sector altogether,” says Mr Brown.

“Manukau Institute of Technology have also warned the Government that the proposed changes put their institution at risk of becoming financially unviable.

“The sector has made it clear that unintended consequences of the changes will also negatively impact the tourism and hospitality, horticulture, and agriculture industries.

“Ministers must reconsider these changes immediately before they put New Zealand’s fourth largest export earner at risk right when the economy is starting to wobble.”

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