25 April 2012

Asian and Middle Eastern students enjoying easy New Zealand visa

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Latest figures from immigration authorities show a sharp rise in the number of Asian and Middle Eastern taking a New Zealand visa in order to study, providing a welcome boost to the country's international education sector.

New Zealand visa

New Zealand's international education sector is benefitting from Middle Eastern and Asian students wishing to study there.

Latest figures from Immigration New Zealand show significant rises in New Zealand visa applications from Saudi Arabian students as well as Indian students and Chinese students with 19%, 17% and 11% increases respectively.

The increase has been attributed to a relaxation of New Zealand immigration policy which allows temporary visa holders to attend short courses without the need for a student visa combined with increasing restrictions on competing countries such as the US and Australia.

Saudi Arabian student Abdul-Azeem Fakhr said he chose New Zealand because he could not get a visa for the United States. Mr Fakhr said New Zealand's popularity among his peers in Saudi Arabia as well as other Gulf nations because it was 'easier to get a visa'.

Meanwhile, head of Islamic Research at the University of Auckland, Zain Ali said New Zealand's popularity boost was being helped along by a perceived 'Muslim-friendly' atmosphere.

"The environment in New Zealand is seen to be more accommodating to students from the Middle East, and there's a lot of halal food and there isn't an issue with finding halal home stays as there are many Muslim families here," said Mr Ali.

New Zealand has welcomed the influx of Middle Eastern and Asian students as an appreciated boost to its international education sector; currently worth NZ$2.3 billion (£1.2 billion), the government hopes to double its worth to over NZ$5 billion (£2.5 billion) over the next decade.

Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce said there was just 67 Saudi students in New Zealand in 2002, compared to over 7000 today. Mr Joyce said he hopes to encourage more students to come to New Zealand and spent last week promoting the country as an international study destination in Saudi Arabia's capital city Riyadh.

The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent immigration consultancy that specialises in helping people apply for a New Zealand Working Holiday Visa.

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