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[NZ] Unitec - frequently asked questions (FAQs) about COVID-19

2020-05-20 13:38
UNITEC Institute of Technology

These questions typically focus around the COVID-19 pandemic, immigration and online learning. 


♦ Will Unitec be offering a July 2020 semester given the current circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic?

Currently, our July 2020 intake is open and we are recruiting for this intake as normal. We are hoping that borders will be open by that time. However, in the event that significant border restrictions are in still in place by July, we are continuing with our planning around distance learning options.  Once we know more about border restrictions and on-campus activity under the new Alert Levels, we’ll be able to provide further information.


♦ Will students be able to study via distance learning for the July 2020 semester if New Zealand borders remain closed?

We are currently awaiting further guidance from Government on what the new Alert Levels will look like in terms of travel restrictions and provision of tertiary education. Exactly how much we’ll be able to provide to students via distance learning is currently under discussion with NZQA and is yet to be confirmed.


♦ How will courses be assessed if we continue via distance learning?

Many existing types of assessments are being effectively offered in an online mode. These assessments include online tests, online presentations and electronic submission of assignments. Courses will not be offered online where suitable online assessment is not possible.


♦ What support are we offering students to assist them with online learning?

A range of online support documents including videos are available for all students. In addition, there is a phone and email-based IT support service that can help learners with the process of accessing our online learning tools.  We have also implemented a Learner Outreach Programme to gauge how students are feeling and how well equipped they are for online study, and this is receiving a lot of positive feedback.


♦ If students’ study via distance learning, will this impact their post study work visa eligibility?

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has not confirmed publicly whether distance/online learning will impact international students post study work visa rights. However, it is worth noting that INZ has been accommodating when it comes to students and the current COVID-19 pandemic (for example, extending all visas that were due to expire). We would hope that they would make exceptions for students under these circumstances, however this is something that Unitec cannot confirm on behalf of INZ. However, the ITP lobbying group has fed this information through to INZ and we are awaiting a response. As soon as this information becomes available, it will be widely communicated to our students and agents.


 If New Zealand is still under some form of lock-down, will part-time jobs be available once students arrive in New Zealand?  

As an education provider, we can never guarantee employment for students during studies or post-graduation. However, as Unitec is New Zealand’s largest applied learning institute, focusing primarily on ensuring that our students and graduates are as employable and work ready as possible, you can be assured that Unitec students are in a highly supportive and well-connected environment. It is also worth noting that INZ has recently relaxed the 20 hour a week work restriction for international students working in New Zealand’s essential businesses. E.g. Supermarkets, Healthcare workers and delivery drivers. Therefore, these students are currently allowed to work over the 20-hour limit.


♦ When New Zealand borders re-open, will new arrivals need to be quarantined? If so, what will this quarantine look like?

The New Zealand Government has not confirmed when the New Zealand borders will re-open to foreign nationals. However, when the borders do re-open to foreign nationals, there will likely be some form of quarantine period put in place for all new arrivals. This is currently being asked of all New Zealand citizens and residents who are returning from overseas. At this stage, it has not been confirmed whether foreign nationals will be placed in a government or healthcare facility as part of their self-isolation or whether foreign nationals will be able to undertake their own form of isolation. As soon as further information is confirmed by the New Zealand Government regarding this issue, we will ensure that our students and agents are informed in a timely manner.


♦ How is New Zealand dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak? 

The New Zealand Government has implemented an alert level system in an attempt to safeguard against the spread of COVID-19. You can find comprehensive information about what each alert level means and why this system has been put it place at the COVID-19 Government website: https://covid19.govt.nz/alert-system/covid-19-alert-system/. The New Zealand Government has taken a hard and fast approach to dealing with the spread of COVID-19 with significant restrictions put in place soon after the first numbers of cases of COVID-19 were confirmed. Because of this approach, New Zealand has experienced a steady decline in the number of new cases of COVID-19 and is cautiously confident that the measures put in place will lead to eradication of the virus in time. The safety and well-being of everyone in New Zealand remains the key focus of the Government at this time. For the latest up-to-date information on New Zealand and COVID-19 can be found at the COVID-19 government website: https://covid19.govt.nz/covid-19/


♦ With English language testing centres being closed, are there any alternatives available to students? (IELTS Indicator etc).

In recognition of the limitations caused by the current Alert Level 4 COVID-19 restrictions in New Zealand, NZQA considers that until face-to face testing resumes the online form of the tests listed in the Table to Rule 18 can be accepted by providers as sufficient proof of English language proficiency for international students present in New Zealand who wish to transition between programmes or providers. However, they expect providers to maintain vigilance in continuing to verify the test certificates they accept, as they do for standard face-to-face test results. As well as checking that test certificates are genuine, providers may also consider other means of verification. This could include interviewing students prior to enrolment to ensure the selected programme of study will be suitable for them and to detect any potential English language proficiency concerns. Further information can be found at the NZQA website: https://www.nzqa.govt.nz/about-us/covid-19/english-language-proficiency/


♦ If distance learning continues, are international students still expected to pay the same international fees?

Yes – in line with the rest of the ITP sector, the same international fees will apply under distance learning.