High visa-rejection rate for Indian students worries New Zealand universities

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Posted on June 4, 2024


4 min read

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Universities in New Zealand are pleading with the government to take action in response to the high percentage of Indian applicants’ student visas being denied. Representing all eight post-secondary institutions, Universities New Zealand has expressed concerns about this matter. According to Immigration New Zealand, the percentage of Indian student visa applications that are denied increased from 28% in 2022 to 40% in 2023.

New Zealand is a popular study abroad location for Indian students because of its cost. Indians can study in New Zealand at a reasonable cost because the New Zealand dollar is less expensive than other currencies like the US dollar, pound sterling, and euro.

These universities offer hundreds of courses in a wide range of subjects, such as business administration, computer science, and medicine. Among the popular degrees taken by Indian students in New Zealand include engineering, hotel management, MBA, and artificial intelligence.

Universities New Zealand’s chief executive, Chris Whelan, brought attention to the issue by pointing out that, at the beginning of semester one, almost 10% of visas had not yet been assigned for processing, and that 2% of them were still pending.

“At the start of semester one this year, nearly 10 percent of visas to study at a New Zealand university were not yet allocated to an Immigration NZ official for processing, and another 2 percent were still being processed,” Whelan stated. He also mentioned that at the beginning of the term, 18% of all visas were pending, which caused confusion and delays for the students.

Whelan highlighted the effect that these delays had: “This meant uncertainty for students, and far too many had their studies impacted by late starts and, once they were able to start, having to deal with the double pressure of familiarizing themselves with a new country while catching up on missed studies.”

He emphasized how unfair and detrimental such uncertainties are to New Zealand’s standing as one of the world’s best study destinations. Prior to the epidemic, the fifth-largest export market for New Zealand was overseas education. “We need to do better for these students if we want this country to enjoy the benefits of international education,” Whelan added.

Data from Immigration New Zealand shows that in the first four months of 2024, 40 percent of Indian student visa applications were denied, compared to 49 percent earlier in the year. 5018 applications were processed between January and April, with 2010 of them being rejected. Chinese students, on the other hand, received 206 rejections out of 8012 applications, or a mere 2 percent rejection rate.

Universities in New Zealand are collaborating more with Indian organizations in an effort to draw in more students. A third university was on the verge of concluding a deal with the Bombay Stock Exchange Institute in Mumbai in July 2023. Instruction India will be featured as the “country of honour” at the New Zealand International Education Conference, NZEIC KI TUA 2024, thanks to a partnership between New Zealand and the High Commission of India. “The recognition of India as the country of honour acknowledges this strong relationship and provides a platform for further partnership and development of bilateral relationships,” a spokesperson for Education New Zealand told RNZ.

Immigration New Zealand’s director of Student Visa, Celia Coombes, listed a number of reasons why visa applications are denied, such as inadequate financial documentation or sincere intents to study. “We have recently implemented initiatives to help facilitate student visas as quickly as possible, while protecting the integrity of the immigration system,” said Coombes. She stated that the processing of student visa applications was being handled by 90 full-time employees, with an average turnaround time of 31 working days.

Applications for international student visas that were submitted between January 1 and April 23 took an average of 31 working days, or almost six weeks, to process.