- Government of New Zealand is releasing learning packages for the education sector to deal with the ongoing health crisis.
- NZ universities are ready to welcome international students, waiting for the nod from Government.
- New Zealand may lose on international student revenue which is approximately NZ$5 billion.
The Government of New Zealand is planning to provide NZ$214 million as COVID-19 response and recovery fund. The aid will be provided to schools and help the construction of companies that are addressing additional costs because of the ongoing health crisis.
NZ$38 million will go towards the schools to cover unanticipated costs related to COVID-19. Schools are also facing additional construction costs due to the lockdown, NZ$107 million from the emergency funding will help with it.
Not just in New Zealand, but schools and universities from every major country are suffering due to the lockdown restrictions and changing their course of action for the future. In the US many students filed petitions and lawsuits against universities for charging higher fees amid ‘learn from home’ situation. If the crisis continues, Australia’s universities will face a cumulative loss of between AU$10 billion to AU$19 billion from 2020-2023. Australia’s higher education sector is now depending on coronavirus cases to go down so that the Government can decide on the further course of action.
Government’s Focus on Digital Transformation is the Key:
The Ministry of Education and Government of New Zealand specially announced a NZ$69 million online learning package to upgrade schools’ digital networks, improve online security and ensure the ongoing integrity of NCEA online exams.
The NZ government believes that this will give schools confidence that they can function with strong support from the Government and can provide a safe and secure online environment to take NCEA exams online.
Apart from this, the Government will also provide NZ$20 million over four years on digital identities for secondary students. This will allow schools to access digital practice exams. Students can also sit for NCEA exams remotely and check their NCEA results online when they are released.
This process, once streamlined, will help student reduce stress during exam time. Not only students but it will also help the schools to reduce the administration work they do to manage logins. While the entire schooling experience is shifted online, it is also essential to conduct the exams honestly. As more students take online reviews, this new package will support digital streamlining to ensure the ongoing integrity of digital NCEA exams.
Te Mana T?hono programme will also be expanded with a boost of NZ$49 million expansion, and it will enable all state and state-integrated schools to upgrade their network hardware by 2024 along with expanding the programme to support cybersecurity.
All the above states that the NZ Government is thinking long term for the education system amid coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Learn From Home Impact on Universities:
Since March 2020, universities and schools are seeing unprecedented times as Learn From Home has become a ‘new normal’. COVID-19 has made social gathering difficult, and learning institutes are not operating on the ground because of the restrictions. As slowly lockdown and other COVID-19 related restrictions are easing, the educational institutions are finding new ways to impart education and stay afloat to keep their work going. Amid this, the border closing has affected a steep reduction in admissions from international students.
New Zealand’s international student revenue is about NZ$5 billion and to deal with the losses due to the lack of international students’ admissions next year, Polytechnics institutes and universities are preparing themselves. The mid-year enrollments are increasing, but despite this, the universities fear financial problems as they believe that the domestic registrations will not help cope up the loss from less international admissions.
International students’ fees are considerably higher than domestic students; therefore, no matter how many local students enrolled, it will not make it up for the shortfall.
NZ universities are urging the Government to allow international students for 2021 to reduce the financial burden, but they will need Governments to help to handle this transition smoothly.
A source from the university representative body shared that the universities are ready to welcome the international students. Still, they are waiting for the Government to collaborate with them to lay out a proper structure for them to follow regarding enrolling international students. He also said that the country could choose to invite students from only those countries that have few COVID-19 cases and can be deported if they break the COVID-19 related rules.
Industry experts believe for next year, just one Polytechnics college in New Zealand may face around 600-student drop in foreign enrolments.
Control on Tertiary Education Fees:
The Government of New Zealand regulates the fees for tertiary education by deciding how much the education providers increase their fees for local students. Through Annual Maximum Fee Movement (AMFM) the fees are increased so this help maintain the affordability. Currently, the Government expect more people to undergo tertiary study or training because of the severe economic impacts from the ongoing health crisis. The regulation will also help the education providers to cope up with increased costs in 2021.
With border restrictions likely to stay as the pandemic situation worsens, an influx of international students could take more time than anticipated. The Government has been playing its part, but the universities highlight that the revenue generated from international students is a substantial amount and growing domestic enrolments will not be enough to cover that. In such a scenario, a rapid improvement in the COVID-19 scenario and favourable Government policies look like the two best options for educational institutions.
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