International students report feeling 'exploited' as universities desperate to see revenue return

New Zealand universities are wanting to get international students back as soon as possible, but some of those already here say they feel exploited.

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International students pay around four to five times the amount of domestic tuition fees. Source: 1 NEWS

International students pay around four to five times the domestic fee for tuition bringing in $5 billion to the economy each year.

However, that revenue source has dried up, but Victoria University's vice chancellor says the demand is there.

“We are looking at an upswing at the moment in our enrollments of about 10 per cent,” says Professor Grant Guilford.

He wants to see students from countries with low Covid-19 infection rates brought in on chartered flights as early as November but those already here like student Christiana Torricelli say they're sick of being seen as dollar signs.

“When you look at the marketing and using us as a financial route to sustain the overall university it feels a bit exploitative,” she says.

The state of student accommodation has made headlines this year, and is now being investigated.

Other concerns include a drop in quality of courses thanks to Covid-19 restrictions, and a lack of student support.

“We've been receiving troubling reports from international students currently in the country, clearly lack of sufficient communication and engagement from universities,” says Ryan Wei of the NZ International Students Association.

Universities want to capitalise on New Zealand's current reputation as a Covid-19 safe haven.

“We're waiting for the political context and social license to be available for us to get on with what we think is a very safe approach,” says Professor Guildford.