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It started a few years back and gathered real pace in June 2007 when the 'New Zealand Educated' campaign was kicked off by 'Education New Zealand' [Images], the main industry body that represents institutions offering education for international students. The last 4 years have been really critical as regards the developments that are being taking place in New Zealand in the international education sector. Several laws have been made and many other amended to make the overall experience, safe and conducive for growth in a New Zealand institution. And why not! After all, the international education industry has been valued at over $ 2 billion by the most recent official stats.
We present you here the excerpts of an exclusive interview with Ms Kerry Greig, Immigration Manager with New Zealand High Commission and Mr. Maninder Singh, Expert, Admission services with BetterThink, a language division of Top Careers & You (TCY).
What type of courses are in demand for overseas students, especially Indian students?
Kerry Greig: Business and management studies, IT and pilot training as also post graduate qualifications
Maninder Singh: People from all over the world come to New Zealand for their overseas education. Students educated in the New Zealand education environment are earning reputation as a new breed of innovative thinkers and are enjoying career success the world over. Courses in demand are MBA, BBA, IT, Computer Science. Moreover, international education in New Zealand is one of the biggest foreign exchange earners for the nation. This is supported by the recent announcement by the Tertiary Education Minister Michael Cullen in the press in August 2007 about the sanctioning of $ 10 million for international education.
How important is the knowledge of English language for the students?
Kerry Greig: They should have a good level of English for the appropriate courses they are enrolling in. Students do not normally travel to New Zealand to study English.
Maninder Singh: Where English is not the native language, a student may be required to demonstrate proficiency in written and/or spoken language. To assess this prerequisite, the English language requirements for entry to mainstream programmes for any student for whom English is a second language are:
~ Successful completion of a course of at least 12 weeks duration in which the medium of instruction and assessment has been in English. Under this criterion, a certified course transcript must be supplied with the application for enrolment.
~ Diploma programmes: IELTS level 6.0 with no band less than 5.5 or successful completion of a course of at least 24 weeks duration in which the medium of instruction and assessment has been in English. Under this criterion, a certified course transcript must be supplied with the application for enrolment.
How easy or difficult is for an Indian student to get a residency status in New Zealand?
Kerry Greig: If students have a qualification that attracts points under our Skilled Migration Policy and if they subsequently have an offer of skilled employment, and some work experience they should have enough points to apply for residence. Once they finish a NZ qualification that would qualify for points under the Skilled Migrant Category, they get a twelve months open work permit. During that period they are eligible to accept any employment in line with their qualification to make themselves eligible for residence. They should have enough points to apply for residence with the NZ qualification, the work experience and the skilled job offer in line with their qualification.
Maninder Singh: As for Australia, getting a residency status in New Zealand is surely a possibility. You need to secure certain defined number of points in order for you to be eligible for the residency status. The most important component of the point system is your 'Qualification points'. It means that if they complete a qualification for an institution from New Zealand, they qualify for certain points which when added to the points under other categories like those for age, relevant work experience, they would tend to become eligible to apply for a residency status. Hence, a NZ qualification is definitely a plus here. However, a respectable score in IELTS is definitely the starting point.
How important is the English language for Indian students?
Maninder Singh: The significance of knowing the English language has never been as dire as it is being felt now. With our Government getting strict on unscrupulous travel agents, people have realised the value of going abroad through the legal way. Taking a test in English proficiency -- International English Language Testing System (IELTS) -- or enrolling in an English-speaking course puts prospective immigrants, especially the students, to a foreign land on a sound footing. We at BetterThink not only help our students get the required bands but also equip them for life-time. Number of free practice tests in IELTS and English language are available on www.tcyonline.com, the online initiative of TCY. I always advise my students to attempt as many tests as possible to improve their band score and command over the language.
How safe is New Zealand and does it encourage permanent settlement?
Kerry Greig: We have quite strict laws in place to protect students. In New Zealand a foreign student can only be granted student visas to study courses approved by the government at educational institutions that have been approved by the Government. The institutions have to abide by a code of practice in relation to student pastoral care and the quality of instruction provided etc. In India there is a general understanding that the majority of students are seeking to study in New Zealand with the goal of obtaining permanent residence in New Zealand. We are very happy for students from this market to study in NZ for qualifications that will assist them obtain residence in New Zealand.
Maninder Singh: As I mentioned earlier as well, earning good qualification points is the key. In fact, permanent residency status is the ultimate aim of the people aiming to study in New Zealand. Hence, the candidates attempt for the courses favourable for eligibility in applying for permanent residency status thereby accumulating the appropriate number of points for the said purpose. Regarding safety, The Education Review Office (ERO) releases reports on overall treatment with the foreign students in the NZ Institutions. The last few reports have observed the foreign students had "an overall better and safe experience" in the NZ institutions. The strengthening of 'The Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students' was the step taken in favour of the international students.
What are qualification points?
Kerry Greig: It is quite a complicated system with a lot of different variables but in short, applicants for residence need to get a certain number of points in order to be approved. Students who obtain a good qualification in New Zealand can eventually apply for residence claiming points for age, a New Zealand qualification a job offer and work experience etc. They can claim additional points if the NZ qualification relates to a skill on the long-term shortage list.
Maninder Singh: This, ultimately, is the way to focus your core competencies towards the recent shortages that NZ faces in a certain breed of professionals. Hence, securing good qualification points by pursuing education in Computer Science, IT and Business Administration and several other streams get you good qualification points which further increases your chances for getting a permanent resident status in the country.
What is the level of English language required to study in NZ?
Kerry Greig: The level of English, normally demonstrated by an IELTS certificate, depends on the course they are taking. Generally, the minimum is an average of 5.5 across all bands, universities require between 6-6.5 depending on the course and nursing courses require an average of band 6.5.
Maninder Singh: Proficiency in English has to be supported by a good band in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), preferably a score between 5.5 and 6.5 depending upon the course you want to apply for.
How would you compare NZ with Australia from the students' preference point of view?
Kerry Greig: We are a small country with four million people, we are very different from Australia. New Zealand is cheaper to live in as compared to Australia and you only have to consider the exchange rate to understand this, there are 31 Rupees to the NZ$ and 37 Rupees to the Australian Dollar. Like Australia our qualifications are internationally recognised.
Maninder Singh: With the immigration laws to Australia going stringent month by month in face of the innumerable illegal immigration cases to the country, people from all over the world are turning to New Zealand -- a country smaller in size and comparatively calmer than Australia. Moreover, the NZ Governments are promoting international education a lot because it is one of the biggest foreign currency earners for them. The international education industry is valued at $ 2 billion in foreign exchange in the most recent studies. Hence, the focus is experiencing a shift towards New Zealand.
How is the job situation in New Zealand? Do the students get part-time and full-time jobs easily?
Kerry Greig: We have extremely low unemployment rate in New Zealand at present. The feedback from students indicates that they are getting part-time jobs while they are studying and are generally getting full time jobs when they graduate. There are also some educational institutes that assist students finding appropriate employment when they graduate. Students are generally responsible for finding their own part time work while they study.
Maninder Singh: With the population of the country merely touching 4.5 million, there are numerous employment opportunities in the country. The concept of placements, as prevailing in India, is also exercised by some of the reputed institutions there in NZ.
If a student visa is rejected by one country, say Australia, how difficult is it to get a NZ visa?
Kerry Greig: NZ is not guided by rejection from another country. If they (students) are rejected by one country that does not mean they are automatically rejected by NZ. What we look at is why they were rejected. For example, they may not have been able to get the right information to the visa officer in time. Depending on the information submitted with the application they could be found eligible to study in NZ like anyone else. All applications we receive are considered on merit. We often seek additional information to that provided with the application and may interview the applicant. Before we issue the visa we must be satisfied that they genuinely intend to study and will abide by the terms and conditions of any visa issued. If we identify any false or misleading information in the processing of an application that application is likely to be declined. If the applicant fails to declare that they have been denied a visa by another country that would be considered reason enough to decline the application then the applicant has attempted to mislead us and that in itself could be a reason to decline the application.
Maninder Singh: The student visa process varies from country to country. There are many reasons for rejection of a student visa. It is also true that rejection of visa in one country affects the visa releasing process in the other. But it happens only if the reason for rejection has something to do with 'hiding' and 'not furnishing' information vital for the visa decision. Hence, if your reason for rejection from Australia is genuine (delay in application etc.), you must try for New Zealand without fear.
What if a student has a gap in her/his studies due to some reason?
Kerry Greig: If some students have a gap in their studies we would ask what they had been doing. If they advised us that they had been working somewhere that is fine or if they advise that they had a gap year that is fine as well and would not in itself be a reason to decline the application.
Maninder Singh: Again, if there is gap that can be justified properly and reasoned out well, there will not be much problem. Moreover, excellent past academic record is something every institution in NZ will give credit to.
Any message for the Indian students desiring to pursue their studies in New Zealand?
Kerry Greig: New Zealand offers good quality, internationally recognised qualifications in a safe environment. There are also opportunities for students to seek employment and permanent residence in New Zealand after completing their qualification.
Top Careers & You (TCY) is an organisation that trains national and international students for high-end examinations viz. GRE, GMAT, CAT, SAT, IELTS and TOEFL.
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