Why New Zealand needs to allow international students to stay

I suspect many New Zealanders think that international students should return home after they complete their studies here. Furthermore, because they are not New Zealanders, perhaps the prevailing view is that we are not obliged to help them. This is especially so when there are plenty of other New Zealand graduates looking for work. I don’t think there’s an obligation on our part to help international students find work after they graduate. Not even if they have paid us $20K per year in fees alone for the 3 or 4 years of their studies, and spending over $120K for a 3 year degree. There’s also no obligation to let them stay because it’s the humanitarian thing to do.

However, if we had more foresight, we would be doing our best to retain talent in this country, regardless of whether they are New Zealanders or not. As it stands, we are losing people at such a rate that when I catch up with fellow employers we begin to question if there are any unemployed skilled Kiwis left in this country.

net migration from nz to aust

This chart from interest.co.nz illustrate our net migration loss to Australia. As you can see, we’re certainly deep in the red.We are competing in a global labour market for talent. And we’re losing that battle. I don’t understand why we need to make life so difficult for smart, talented and hardworking people who WANT to live and work in this country. We’re pleading with New Zealanders to return home, and increasingly many don’t want to, as we can see from the migration data. We’re writing off student loan interest to bribe…oops, entice people to remain in this country. All in the name of stemming the brain drain. At the same time, we keep looking for ways to prevent international graduates from “competing” with locals for jobs. Employers who attempt to recruit these “foreigners” are harassed and asked to prove that there are no New Zealanders who can fill these roles. I wouldn’t be whining about “third world countries stealing Kiwi jobs”. I would far prefer to go out and steal their smart, hardworking and hungry people.

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About The Author

Kenneth is Director of Euroasia. He is passionate about languages and cultures.

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