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Guy Trafford is appalled the Education Minister is considering breaching our border security to welcome international students in an effort to 'save' the tertiary education sector

Guy Trafford is appalled the Education Minister is considering breaching our border security to welcome international students in an effort to 'save' the tertiary education sector

Due to a combination of a full moon, lockdown blues and goodness knows what else goes on in my head I happened to be awake at 4.00am listening to the RNZ news and was flabbergasted that Minister or Education seemed to be giving legs to the idea of allowing international students back into the country before any other sectors were allowed in.

After doing a quick online search there was indeed an article by Jane Patterson that was reporting that Hipkins was considering this.

Given the sacrifices that have been made by New Zealanders across the board, but particularly the sectors that rely upon the tourist trade, to be even considering this seemed a slap in the face.

Driven by a flawed funding system for universities and polytechnics,  which no doubt are suffering from the drop in student numbers, this sector should be last group the borders are opened up to.

The one sector of society that appeared to thumb their noses at the lockdown policies of various countries around the globe was the 18-25 year old age group. And yet this is the same group we are considering to let in early ?? !!

The PM and Director General of Health have been telling us for weeks now the COVID-19 virus “is a tricky beast” and that there is much we don’t know about it. The experience of the Marist St Margaret’s cluster which is still throwing up positive cases which have slipped under the testing programme is a classic example of how either through a case of flawed testing or “a tricky beast” the virus can reappear.

Whatever the reason, cases that should have been caught were missed.

The two week requirement for returning New Zealanders is one thing with limited numbers coming in at any one time and dealing with a sector which have a vested interest in making sure that the virus is kept out. (Presumably they have family here).

However, if international students are let back in numbers that are likely to have any impact on tertiary institutions, then the isolation lockdown is going to be severely tested.

Based upon 2018 numbers there are potentially around 50,000 international students on top of those that are already here who would like to get into study. This would certainly strain the border systems (assuming there were flights to bring them in).

The two week isolation period also needs to be questioned. ‘We’ have just experienced a 7-week period of lockdown and at a severe economic cost.

What woolly headed thinking would allow this international sector a lesser period?

If this is going to be what politicians trot out leading up to elections, there is going to be plenty of ammunition for the media to get their teeth into. A concerted effort needs to be mounted, in my opinion, the nip this stupid idea in the bud. There must be better ways to sort out the problems of the tertiary institutes than this.

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Yep Madness

One thinks he’s probably had a flea in his ear from the Auckland branch of the Property Investors Federation. DFA highlight a huge recent spike in the number of rentals in Auckland City in their recent post ‘How low will NZ GDP go?’. From 13 minutes 50.

Sure, it's a spike or "surge", but is it really indicative of anything but a) seasonal and b) pent up demand from a 5 week halt to listings? I note the graph goes back to July 2019 so no YoY comparison.

We’ll find out soon enough I guess but a 50% surge in central Auckland rental listings at a time when agents haven’t been able to photo new stock is quite a dramatic increase.


maybe he is targetting the pseudo studos that pick the fruit,man the gas pumps and staff liquor stores and massage parlours.

International Student Education Industry?? Should be renamed Backdoor Immigration Industry.

PTE = Pretend Tertiary Education


If the universities really are struggling, then reconsider the model, and maybe pump a bit of public money into them shorter term.

True, the current business model of tertiary education in NZ is not any different from our dairy, tourism and horticulture sector, i.e. volume-based, commoditized exports to whoever is willing to pay the listed price. The hefty fee structure certainly includes mark-ups for their large marketing budgets and handing out sales-based commissions to dodgy agents.
If only the sector devoted some of these resources in engaging with employers to better understand industry needs and expectations, we could greatly improve the quality of incoming foreign students and also train its own citizens for better careers.


Guy, I completely agree with all of that.
I hope this won't happen.


This is ludicrous. And what about all the part-time workers rights these foreign students get? Shouldn’t we cease and reassess granting any and all visas until we have a better picture of our own people’s employment situations. Our out of work citizens need to have first right to part-time jobs right now that normally international students may have done in the past.


Simple - grant study visas with no right to work - as per visitor visas. Only reasons not to do so would be (a) our education cannot rely on its reputation without a bribe (b) filling investment properties (as owned by many MPs) has priority over unemployed New Zealanders.

International students and migrant workers who are here for 9-12 months plus and are here to be based in a known location and with known close contacts should 100% be allowed back in with govt funded 14 day quarantine to boot.

US is reopening as we speak despite 75k deaths, 2500 is the last day, no one but NZ has been so happy to kill the economy (and a yet to be known number of undiagnosed cancer sufferers, tip 10x plus more than the 21 covid deaths).

Tourism can open to AU, Singapore, etc with quarantine, but can understand the increased risks with tourists being by their nature moving around the place with no fixed abode and in and out of the country in weeks not months/years

Was just reading about a year delay on the transmission gully (originally to be open in Nov this year) as most of the lead engineers are foreign and have left the county. These people need to come back as for each 1 missing means 10+ kiwi operators who can't get back on the tools again.

Lots of these instances where the flow is disrupted by a few missing key people which will see the rbnz's guesses of 90% back in level 2 to be extremely optimistic.


Taxpayer funded quarantine? Why not make it a cost of study / work? Why should the taxpayer also be paying for these?

In 2017 education was identified as being NZ's 4th largest export earner:

What the taxpayers would save from not paying quarantine costs is miniscule compared to the knock-on benefits that international students bring to the economy.

But that's the point - if people are happy to pay the high costs then they can pay for two weeks of isolated accommodation just as they'll be paying for accommodation when they're in.

Two different issues. Migrant workers already here on work-visas should be treated with empathy (not a trait common at INZ). No sending them back if it is to a country in turmoil. When work ends and home country is open then they should return. Flexibility is needed and that famous kindness. All such migrants ought to be treated as guests - not as easily exploited, cheap labour.
International students are different. If they are talking about high level students in the middle of attending a serious course of study allow them back but restrict rights to work to them and their families.
It does not have a good look when we expect 20% unemployment for foreigners to fly here and work in low paid jobs. The $110k pa already used as a limit for family reunion seems about right.


Shame NZ can't produce its own engineers. Or maybe it does but they all go and live/work overseas because wages are enough to buy a house?

The fact that engineering contractors would rather hire migrant workers with years of overseas experience at entry-level salaries rather than train up locals is also at play here.
Going forward, INZ should either peg the age of a migrant to their salary when reviewing visa applications to make sure young Kiwis aren't being shortchanged by older, experienced migrants in the race for entry-level jobs or risk further exodus of local talent.


No sending them back if it is to a country in turmoil.

Don't kid yourself - we're a country in turmoil too;

We have 300,000 migrant workers here - 42,000 of which whose temporary work visas expire in September;

I just don't think it's fair to NZers being laid off left-right-and-centre to have to compete with people here on temporary work permits - be they studying or just plain working.

No country is in permanent lcokdown. Those 42,000 can go home; most of them will want to go home; but I can see room for some flexability if they will arrive in a remote city in a country in lockdown (say Moscow) - just give them a few weeks to overstay until their country permits domestic travel.
Incidentally I know of a Papua New Guinean who was visiting her sister in NZ and last month she returned to PNG and was turned back at Port Moresby despite citizenship - so is now reluctantly back in NZ on her visitors visa.
Certainly agree with you that we should not be making the situation worse.

100% agree. Jobs for kiwis come first.

Government funded quarantine - why does the NZ taxpayer need to pay please?


If this happens Jacindas career is finished


Her career is already finished. 25% unemployment by the election will see to that. As for opening the border, how about we close it for 25yrs? That is about the level of intellect that went into the lockdown decision, simply aping the dumb govt decisions made overseas. Idiotic.

What would you have done, Ludwig?

The smartest thing any government might do in the aftermath of this global unemployment crisis (i.e., Great Depression II), would be to introduce a UBI and subsequently stop reporting unemployment statistics altogether. Change it over to workforce participation rates.

Not sold on the idea of UBI. In principle could be beneficial for those who are laid off/redundant in countries with immature/underfunded/limited welfare systems. however, we already have significant welfare 'options' in New Zealand. Agree changing reporting of unemployment stats to workforce participation because a UBI if implemented, that supports those out of work with larger tax credits or higher payments would surely IMO cause many to avoid participating.
Have you seen the work and income 'menu' lately.
NZ has the luxury of a MENU, I SAY MENU of benefits. How does this not equate to a UBI? Just lacks that acronym.

That's the beauty of a UBI - gone is the menu.

you can dream up whatever you want apart from race and age rules, that goes against a lot of basic human rights, its way to close to gas chamber for under 25 year olds or jews... if you catch my drift.

Imo, the COL will win in a landslide because they didn't ape "dumb govt decisions made overseas". as is becoming more evident day by day , poll by poll .
National's leadership team and CCP funders have sealed the deal

I don’t think she is finished at all.
Labour are soaring in the polls, already in the middle of economic carnage.
I have gone off her, and my already flagging support for Labour has finally evaporated.
But I would suggest I am in the minority.
Also, if I don’t vote for Labour who will I vote for? No one at this stage.

Very similar position to you. Floating voter. Voted Winston First as a protest for NP burying heads in sand over serious housing problem. Didn't want Labour and Greens to get in unchecked. WF has done the bare minimum in keeping Labour and Greens in check while enjoying the baubles of office. I think he's quite a good Foreign Minister. Other than that difficult to see now for whom to vote. Feel the 2nd wave if it occurs will be the CoL's undoing.

They probably got a call from their chinese paymasters.

Doubt it - the line will be engaged while Ximon seeks guidance on his next move!

David Parker is on that call. He sings the Belt and Road tune.

Typical Hipkins , has no idea; this thing has cost too much to have to go through it again; no way can you quarantine thousands of youngsters reliably, probably for 3 weeks minimum.They will reinfect NZ quickly.
Unfortunately Hipkin's view may reflect the Pardy's view...

It just proves how easy it is for our education lobbists. Maybe this ministers is insecure and lonely and just doesn't know how to say no.


This government is more interested in looking after non Kiwis than our own.
Our schools are a mess and this idiot is more focused on foreign students ???? than making our schools safe and open for business for New Zealanders children.


This is the same dilemna being faced in Australia and part and parcel of the whole 'immigration-as-key-driver-of-GDP' strategy that the govt (past and present) doesn't want to openly admit. As anyone who has paid attention to the education sector in NZ (and Australia), large parts of it are little more than a scam. But it's a lucrative scam. For the govt and the scammers. The govt understands the impacts that the demise of the sector will have and of course are looking to any opportunity to open the gates to foreign students.

Perhaps there's merit in letting in these students, but how will they get here and and what cost? And when they get here, what awaits them in terms of education?

No, there is no merit in the PTE ponzi scheme gone wrong, badly wrong - take this story;

For the second time in six months Manisha*, a healthcare student, has been left in the lurch.

The first was when the Kiwi Institute of Training and Education (KITE) was shut by NZQA last year.

"The college closed suddenly at midnight. So we just heard the news in the morning that [our] college is closed," Manisha said.

It was a tough time. Manisha's visa was tied to her educational institute. She moved to Whangarei., spent more money enrolling in a different course then moved to Hamilton in March to study and take up a job there.

"Suddenly the lockdown. I didn't get the job in Hamilton," Manisha said.

Her husband can't work because he is in New Zealand on a visitor's visa. They have a five-month-old child.

"So I need a job, and I'm looking for jobs in Hamilton. It's a very big city and all the agencies are closed at this time so I'm suffering because I'm a jobseeker at the moment," Manisha said.

The university’s and ‘business schools’ showed their true colours early on in the CV19 crisis - it’s only about $$, nothing else!

Yes the previous VC of UoA made a right dick of himself as his final stand.

As the article you linked to explains, Guy, the number of int'l students had dropped significantly year-on-year with the changes the coalition government made to the sector (i.e., private training institutes came under the microscope with NZQA) and to the study work visa (which became unavailable to PTE students). Hence,

The figures showed universities had 17,570 students in-country, polytechnics 9308 and schools 10,506 - about half the number of students those sectors enrolled in 2018 when the total number of foreign students in all sectors reached 110,790.

The reference to 'schools' there relates to secondary schools, I believe. And they are wanting reimbursement for their lost income;

So the problem is by no means only in the tertiary sector.

And you are right, there are much better ways to sort out the problems. It's not so hard in the university sector (there are many academics near over over 65+ years of age), but those secondary schools... some took on capital projects (debt) based on having these students and indeed growing them in number.

Uni has become a racket anyway, Law never used to be a 5 year degree when I was young.

It's simply a credential-production machine: more tickets to clip. Pity about the students, who are gulled by the Important Piece of Paper at the end of an expensive sojourn through what passes for 'education' these days, then to discover that without practical experience and the adaptability to switch to an entirely different career, they have been gazumped by younger, cheaper, trained-on-the-job bodies......Do I hear tiny violins?

Exceptions = STEM to some extent. But any major in xxxx Studies is a complete waste of young lives.

In a world that only relied on primary industry goods and services, I would agree with you. But in an era of technological and other disruptions, I cannot. Over-reliance on STEM subjects means no creative industry capacity (consider for instance, how the global video game industry eclipses both the music and film industries combined). Innovation doesn't come from business as usual thinking, but from trying new ways of doing things. This is possible is the tertiary education sector - particularly at post-gaduate levels - because it's not all just about that important bit of paper, but the multiple opportunities to try new things, which in the ordinary commercial world are too high risk or are not possible within existing production models.

And as to the claim that there is no practical experience at tertiary levels, perhaps you should visit your local polytechnic? I couldn't disagree with you more..

STEM degrees these days are more about getting jobs with the big tech companies of the world instead of establishing the next big ones.
The creative element is absent because tertiary institutions are stepping away from their expected role in society of preparing young minds for the real challenges of the world outside and turning into profit-chasing, virtue-signalling hot-spots.

You have to feel for all those students who are missing out on the Level 7 Diplomas and Degrees in How to Obtain Residence Through Post Study Work Visas we have here in NZ. World Class education.

The majority of NZ international students are Chinese and Indians. While India is going through the outbreak, many Chinese schools struggle to reopen due to newly confirmed cases. I'm pretty sure NZ needs to wait.

Guy Trafford probably wants everyone in New Zealand to leave on unemployment benefits. If this is the thinking that underlies the government's approach to opening up the economy, NZ will become a third world country economically by two years. Hope some sanity prevails.

What's with the collective hysteria in New Zealand? The latest studies are showing that the case fatality rate is something like 0.3% (correction 0.37%). We should be learning lessons from Sweden which has a similar population density to NZ, and has relatively few cases with almost no precautions being taken. I live in Munich where all the restaurants ans most shops are now open. Everyone has to wear masks when they go into shops which is kind of surreal, but it's a sensible balance of saving lives and saving the economy. New Zealand is going to be economically fuc&&d if we destroy the revenue from education and tourism.

Why the heck is the government not listening to it's own advisers, making unilateral bad decisions, and then destroying the evidence. This article is pretty mind blowing

Where is your evidence the CFR is 0.3%? There has been discredited serological testing (using cheap kits) that have extrapolated their data to suggest population prevalence is higher than it really is. John Ioannidis who pushed this idea of a IFR of 0.3% by misusing the Diamond Princess data, ignored the final numbers which suggested a CFR of 2% anyway and the rest of his assumptions have been widely panned in the academic community including N Taleb.
The experiment in Swedish exceptionalism is slowly going off the rails. Recent news reports stated they had underestimated the number of expected deaths. Their new case numbers climb still, the % of recovered/new cases remains low, deaths have not peaked (despite them announcing this for 3 weeks), and testing rates are low compared to their neighbours. They have attempted to isolate their seniors in aged care homes but not with success, but this is almost impossible anywhere. So when they have wiped out their elderly, the most socially disadvantaged and a portion of their medical workforce, will it be worth it? Sweden doesn't want to use the term "herd immunity" but that is part of their approach. Herd immunity is really applicable to vaccination not with deliberate infection of a susceptible population. But if they get to 80% the most vulnerable will already be infected.
Two big unknown's for Sweden. How effective is immunity and for how long? What about the long term health consequences for survivors? There is emerging evidence of significant chronic ill health in survivors from renal, lung and heart damage as well as an increased risk of long term vascular disease.
There is no convincing evidence the economic impact will be significantly less for Sweden with its laissez faire approach compared to its neighbours Denmark or Finland.

I am more than happy to stick with New Zealand "exceptionalism" on this.

Talking about faulty testing kits - in Tanzania the pawpaws and the goats are testing positive for Covid19 - after the President ordered some samples be taken from them then had those samples sent to the lab with false names and ages lol!

The data comes from the German municipality of Gangelt which was hit hard with COVID 19 after zero precautions were taken and they had a town festival. You can find a link to the original data here. 1000 inhabitants from 400 households were analysed, throat swabs and blood testing for antibodies (IgG and IGA). Preliminary data from the first 500 people shows that ~14% contracted the disease and the CFR = 0.37%

A lot of the papers out there, (like this one in JAMA looking at the CFR in Italy stratified by age), are not doing the antibody testing and therefore they're underestimating the denominator, and overestimating the CFR.

Surely you know enough maths to know that 0.37 rounds up to 0.4 and not down to 0.3? So you should not be presenting it as 0.3.

I too read that article or a very similar one based on the same research. "CFR 4x the Flu" was part of the headline. Plus then you have the infection rate and the effects the combination of these have on health systems.

Agreed Rick, I wrote the wrong number. Should have written 0.37%. Also that's a preliminary number, and some of the remaining 500 subjects could be in hospital so the true CFR might be slightly higher, who knows. Yes this is nothing like the flu. The R0 is likely to be very high, but we're seeing from Taiwan and South Korea that by taking simple hygiene precautions , particularly wearing masks in public, that the contagiousness can be controlled.

Hindsight agrees with you.

I'm certainly not critical of the government for acting swiftly to lock-down. It was the right decision at the time.

minister of education combined with thinking pretty much invalidates everything else - we are talking about hte idiot who declared schools and ELC would be opening on national TV -- without a single conversation with head Teachers, teachers, unions or the ELC sector itself --

Time to think Kiwi, protect Kiw lives and jobs -- lose all these residency students, lose all teh temporary work visas -- cancel them -- and any other non essential work visa -- starting with the massive number of chincese tour guides we brought over -- i think 8000 in one year --

Surely the whole point of temporary work permits is that when they are no longer needed you cancel them - tough for those people i know -- but they are economic migrants only -- Plenty of Kiwis goign to be desperate for work in 4 weeks time

The big problem is that foreigners were allowed to come to NZ to take advantage of the education system set up for Kiwis. Now there is are a couple of business sectors who think they have some sort of right to let a statistically high risk group of foreigners in to NZ to protect their business, which is totally predicated on pandering to these foreigners and their bank managers. A lot of Kiwis have found out over the last few weeks that it is not so bad being a bit poorer, as a lot of bad stuff has also gone. Maybe we should partially continue with that life.