The Government’s U-turn on their international students policy has given the international education industry a last minute reprieve, but questions remain about why Labour cynically stoked anti-immigrant sentiment during the campaign with promises it never intended to keep, says National’s Tertiary Education spokesperson Paul Goldsmith.

“Labour was told all along that removing the work rights of international students was unfair and would jeopardise one of New Zealand’s biggest export earners and an industry which provides thousands of jobs, but they jumped on the anti-immigration bandwagon anyway.

“Not providing options for bright graduates to work in New Zealand would have damaged the competitiveness of New Zealand with other top English language study destinations.

“The international education industry is worth $4.5 billion to the New Zealand economy and employs around 30,000 people so it’s good that Labour have finally seen sense and backed down on the policy to remove the work rights of international students.

“But what it shows is that Labour’s campaign was a cynical effort to target migrants and it adds to the evidence that this is a Government that can’t be trusted to do what it says it will.

“It is still unclear whether they intend to follow through on their campaign promise to reduce the number of international students by between 15,000 and 22,000, which represents about a quarter of incoming students.

“With the Government’s immigration policy constantly shifting, there is no way of knowing what their policy actually is. The academic year is upon us and people in the international education industry need certainty so it’s time the Government gave it to them.”

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