National's deputy leader Nikki Kaye says the Government is working "too slow" to bring international students back to our shores, and that it could cost the nation hundreds of millions of dollars.
In a statement today, National claimed if it was in was in Government, international students would be back.
"International students contribute about $5 billion a year to the New Zealand economy and support around 50,000 jobs. Most of this money doesn’t come from tuition fees but rather from spending on accommodation, food, tourism, entertainment and living costs, all of which support Kiwi businesses and Kiwi workers," Mr Kaye said.
"The Government is moving too slow when it comes to opening up our international students market. If it doesn’t move quickly, New Zealand is at risk of missing out on international students for the second half of 2020 which will cost the economy hundreds of millions of dollars."
Currently, there's a strict criteria for who can enter New Zealand under Alert Level 1.
However, in National's policy they outlined a health check prior to departure and two lots of testing when entering and exiting quarantine in New Zealand which would be paid for by the students.
"We have also proposed that education providers would handle quarantine procedures. Their health protocols will need to be approved and audited by Ministry of Health officials," National’s tertiary education spokesperson Dr Shane Reti said.
"These processes are robust and more rigorous in our view than existing processes for returning New Zealanders.
He also noted the policy may evolve depending on how technology evolves around testing.
"We also expect as a country border arrangements are implemented that some international students may come through those arrangements," Mr Reti said.
"Bringing back international students is incredibly important for our universities, polytechnics and PTEs. A National Government would be working hard to ensure we had international students back in the country as quickly as possible so our education sector can stay afloat."
Meanwhile, the Government announced it was extending visas of temporary migrants in New Zealand, including international students, to "ensure that there is some certainty for them as they face the challenges of being in a foreign country at this extraordinary time".
International students in New Zealand with visas expiring between April 2 and July 9 have or will have their visas automatically extended to September 25 at no additional cost.