The Ministry of Education is looking at options to make the Export Education Levy (EEL) fund more sustainable to protect New Zealand’s reputation as a study destination, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today.

The EEL is a levy collected from international education providers to fund a broad range of activities including marketing and promotion.  It also funds reimbursements for international students caught out by programme and provider closures.

The Ministry of Education is asking education providers who enrol international students – universities, institutes of technology and polytechnics, private training establishments (PTEs) and schools – for feedback on options for increasing the levy percentage, the first such increase since the levy was created in 2003.

“Over the past year or so, calls on the levy has almost emptied the EEL fund,” Chris Hipkins said.

“Increased effort to monitor and address quality issues have led to a sharp increase in PTE course and provider failures, with international students needing to be reimbursed.

“The balance of the EEL fund will hit zero soon if no changes are made, and current and future investigations result in more closures requiring the use of levy.

“Improving and safeguarding the quality of our international education sector, and protecting the well-being of students is at the centre of our recently launched International Education Strategy.

“Our reputation as a destination for international students relies in part on our generous student protections, such as those funded by the levy. Leaving the levy at the present level is not an option.

“The Government sees a strong future for international education. Our approach strikes a balance between sustainable growth and making a clear commitment to students’ learning experience and lifting quality,” Chris Hipkins said