17 April 2020 at 9:00 am

New Zealand continues to protect and care for international students during lockdown

During this unprecedented time, there are still thousands of international students in New Zealand who need ongoing support and want to complete their education. Being away from home in a foreign country that may not speak your native language is a daunting prospect at the best of times, never mind during a global pandemic.

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Providers, host families and supporting networks have been setting up additional support for international students to ensure they feel connected and safe.

Education New Zealand is pulling together some of the great things that have been taking place across the sector. Here are just a small number that we have heard about so far.

  • Otago University has a dedicated information page for students, with students registering with Ask Otago. They can then request daily phone calls to check in and see how they are doing. University recreation centre staff are also offering virtual fitness classes.


  • University of Auckland has been supporting the COVID-19 response by undertaking modelling work that informs the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor and working directly with the Auckland District Health Board to help with testing capacity by using their facilities and people.


  • Rotorua English Language Academy (RELA) is teaching online classes to 30 students from nine different countries. Many students are worried about their families back home so in addition to support during class time, staff make individual phone calls and arrange fun activities such as the recent Easter video competition on WhatsApp. Friday full-school assemblies and farewell speeches continue to lift students’ spirits with the RELA tradition of singing ‘Now is the Hour’ – managed by the school’s director playing on the piano at home while students sing over Zoom.


  • Several Northland schools have been working closely with Study Northland to support the 150 international students in their care. The international students are being well supported by their schools and homestay families by keeping them busy and making them feel like an integral part of the family.


  • SIEBA is doing an amazing job supporting the school sector. The small SIEBA team has been working around the clock to provide advice and guidance to schools, including publishing residential care emergency guidance to help schools navigate these tricky areas. On top of all that, SIEBA is raising key issues with the Ministry of Education and alerting government agencies to emerging challenges.


  • Massey University’s international support staff are running virtual one-on-one support sessions which can be arranged by the students themselves. The university, like other universities, is making personal phone calls to all students to ensure they feel supported. Massey also has a range of wellbeing resources available and the recreation centres have taken their services online.


  • Aspire2 International has launched a number of online learning solutions that have all gained NZQA accreditation. This means English, hospitality, IT and business students can transition from face-to-face to remote learning quickly in order to complete their qualifications.


We want to hear more about the great work the sector is doing to support international students within New Zealand both in enabling their learning but also supporting their wellbeing.

Please let us know what your organisation has been doing and we will look to share this wider. Send your stories to industryteam@enz.govt.nz.

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