The Government has established a new category that will allow 250 international PhD and postgraduate students to enter New Zealand and continue their studies, in the latest set of border exceptions.

“The health, safety and wellbeing of people in New Zealand remain the Government’s top priority. Tight border restrictions remain critical to protecting New Zealanders against COVID-19 and ensuring that Kiwis can return home,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said.

“There are many calls on the Government to grant exceptions. So far around 10,400 exceptions have been granted for people such as essential health workers, other critical workers and family of New Zealand citizens or permanent residents.

“Just last month, new exceptions were announced for some normally resident temporary visa holders, more partners of New Zealanders, and a limited number of veterinarians, deep water fishing crew and agricultural and horticultural mobile plant operators.

“The exception today is a balanced decision that recognises the vital role international education will play in the recovery and rebuild of New Zealand and the need to continue the fight against the pandemic.  It will enable us to welcome back a good portion of those PhD and Masters students who are caught off-shore, and who need to be in New Zealand to complete their work.

“These are students who hold or held a visa for 2020, and whose long-term commitment to study here was disrupted by COVID-19. Priority will be given first to those who need to be in the country for the practical components of their research and study.

“The first students are likely to arrive in November 2020, with the majority arriving in the new year.

“The number of international students we are granting exceptions for is a very small proportion compared to the numbers we are used to.  I acknowledge that other international education providers, such as schools and Private Training Establishments, will be disappointed that their students are not a part of this border exception group.

“Our approach is pragmatic and allows us to carefully manage the demand on our quarantine facilities and the complex nature of bringing students back into the country.

“Allowing these students to travel to New Zealand is a step in the right direction for the international education sector.  The Government will review other possible border exceptions, as and when it is safe to do so.

“International PhDs and other postgraduate students make a significant contribution to our research and innovation systems and boost the global reputations and competitiveness of our institutions,” Chris Hipkins said.

The Ministry of Education will now contact Tertiary Education Organisations to work through student identification and selection. Students that have questions about this process should contact their providers in the first instance.