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Thursday, January 27, 2022

International students stranded abroad plead for when they can come to New Zealand

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International students stranded abroad ask for clarification on when to come to New Zealand.

Students stuck abroad at Zoom University would like to know the details of entering New Zealand.
Photo: 123rf

They say the suspension of visa processing for people outside the country until at least August means that some students will spend all their time studying at Zoom University, and an online petition has garnered hundreds of signatures.

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Tuba Azim, the Pakistani student, is a PhD candidate in law at Victoria University of Wellington.

She was applying for a student visa in early 2020 when the country closed its borders due to the pandemic. She chose to enroll and study online anyway, hoping to reopen the borders.

However, when the government granted exemptions to 250 doctoral students and later 1,000 other international students in higher education, they were not eligible.

“If the situation doesn’t get any worse, I expect to be in New Zealand in 2023 just to present my thesis,” she said.

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Azim contracted Covid-19 and dropped out of his studies for four months before resuming in August.

Because she is abroad, she does not get a PhD stipend from the university and feels guilty for relying on her family for financial support.

She said her family forced her into marriage – and it wouldn’t have happened if she had been able to study in New Zealand.

Tuba Azim from Pakistan says she would not have been forced into marriage if she could come to study in New Zealand.
Photo: Submitted

“I was really frustrated with the situation and with catching Covid and not being able to be in the normal situation to work and then go to New Zealand and get the normal training that all other PhD students have to complete their research so it affected my mental health on a completely different level.”

Natdanai Nachan, a Thai student, had been attending an online PhD with Victoria University of Wellington since early 2020. He also did not qualify for border waivers.

Natdanai Nachan received her PhD online from Victoria University of Wellington.

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Natdanai Nachan received her PhD online from Victoria University of Wellington.
Photo: Submitted

He said his supervisor was very helpful, but it wasn’t the education experience he expected.

“An expectation to try something new, something outside of my country that can’t be satisfied,” he said.

“I hope to know the exact date, and the exact time when I can apply for my visa to enter the country.”

Nachan said the suspension of visa processing means he will be in New Zealand at the end of this year at the earliest, giving him about six months of study time before completing his studies.

Fang Yuhao is a first-year engineering student at the University of Auckland. He was supposed to start his studies in 2020, but due to the pandemic, he took a year off and re-enrolled in July of last year.

Fang said the gap year was a waste of time and that studying online was not perfect.

He didn’t think the fees he had paid was worth it and wanted to be able to personally study in New Zealand.

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“The government should give us a basic time frame when the visa application will be opened.”

The Ministry of Education said in a statement that international students abroad cannot currently apply for a student visa.

He notes that the government may lift this suspension, in whole or in part, as other decisions are made on the successive reopening of the borders.

It also notes that the third border exception for 1,000 international students will be open to applications from mid-January.

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