11 March 2020 at 9:00 am

From the CE: An update on our response to COVID-19

The impacts of the virus continue to be a big focus for us, as it is for many of you.

Grant McPherson

COVID-19 continues to be a major focus for us, as it is for you.

The World Health Organisation declared COVID-19 a pandemic on 12 March. As Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield says, we have been planning for and acting as if COVID-19 was a pandemic since the beginning of the outbreak.

The New Zealand Government’s number one priority is the health of people in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. International students are a valued part of New Zealand’s education system and of our community. New Zealand provides quality education to many thousands of international students each year, and we want that to continue.

The health and well-being of our international students is of uppermost importance – both the students whose travel to New Zealand has been delayed and those who are currently here, far from home, during a period of uncertainty. We are all working together to ensure they have the care, support and information they need.

The international situation around COVID-19 continues to evolve and the international education sector is working in an environment of rapid change and a lot of uncertainty, as things develop on a daily basis.

We are working with providers and agencies across government to map out the way forward. In the short-term, we wanted to give you an idea of some of the immediate steps that ENZ has in train. These include: 

  • Ongoing monitoring of global responses and flow-on impacts for the international education sector – which we will share with providers
  • Tailored communication to and support of agents around the globe through AgentLab (March)
  • Market intelligence soundings (ongoing)
  • Testing market sentiment in China and other affected countries (March)
  • Enhancing our content on WeChat (March)
  • Continuing to develop NauMai NZ as a platform to get information to international students (March)
  • Taking our regular pulse check of the health of the brand globally (from April)
  • Exploring online delivery of ENZ events globally (March/April).

We are very keen to work collaboratively with the sector. We look forward to the discussion with provider representatives at the peak bodies’ forum on 18 March.

We are continuing to update ENZ’s COVID-19 webpage to provide links to the latest information for students and their families, agents and sector peak bodies.

Impacts on our work

Because of the COVID-19 outbreak and travel restrictions, ENZ has cancelled or postponed a range of events and initiatives. Our offshore activities in particular have been impacted by the responses of host countries to COVID-19. We will continue to communicate these developments directly to affected New Zealand industry and other stakeholders. 

In addition, we have postponed the applications for the Prime Minister’s Scholarship for Asia (the Prime Minister’s Scholarships for Latin America are unaffected). We cannot support scholars to travel to the Asian region at this time. We will review the situation later in the year. Please check our webpage for further updates.

Similarly, ICEF Australia New Zealand (ANZA) has been postponed to 3-5 August 2020;  APAIE 2020 (Asia Pacific Association for International Education) has been postponed until March next year; and the IALC 2020 Auckland Workshop (26-29 March) has been cancelled. Other postponements and cancellations continued to be advised and we expect this trend to continue.

Other measures 

  • Offshore or blended delivery
    • We have been asked about alternative delivery for students not yet able to enter New Zealand.
    • NZQA has advised it is enabling non-university tertiary education providers to temporarily support students who are affected by COVID-19 travel restrictions through online/blended learning options.
    • If you have a programme that is approved for online/blended delivery, please contact NZQA on 0800 697 296 for more information.
    • This temporary approval does not apply to training schemes
  • 3% surplus not required this year

Student eligibility for health care

Also in response to sector questions, the National Health Coordination Centre, which is part of the Ministry of Health, has confirmed that “people who have or who are suspected of having an infectious and/or quarantinable disease are eligible for publicly funded health services to address the risks to other people.” Further information is available on the Ministry’s website.

Further information

Here in New Zealand, the Ministry of Health is the key source of information on current entry restrictions and advice for people travelling to New Zealand, self-isolation and prevention measures. The Government has extended entry restrictions and entry requirements into New Zealand as a precautionary measure to protect against the spread of COVID-19.

Other key sources of information on COVID-19 are the: Ministry of Education and Immigration New Zealand, as well as ENZ’s webpage for students, agents and peak bodies.

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