Increase in student quarantine beds depends on demand

Creating more quarantine space for desperately needed international students will depend on demand, Education Minister Chris Hipkins says.

Mr Hipkins made a flying visit to Dunedin yesterday to check progress on Otago Polytechnic’s $31.7million Trades Training Centre project.

His southern call came amid concern over the impact on the education sector from plummeting international student numbers in the wake of Covid-19.

This week, Invercargill MP and former Southern Institute of Technology chief executive Penny Simmonds said universities and polytechnics were expecting big deficits this year and would continue to suffer financially if they did not get a significant intake of foreign students.

"If we don't start getting some students in soon, and certainly if we don't get them in by first intake 2022, we're going to see this going out for another two years," Ms Simmonds said.

Taieri MP Ingrid Leary, Education Minister Chris Hipkins, and Otago Polytechnic chief executive...
Taieri MP Ingrid Leary, Education Minister Chris Hipkins, and Otago Polytechnic chief executive Megan Gibbons check progress at the polytechnic’s Trades Training Centre project yesterday. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
"I just think we're not appreciating how long this is going to carry on through the tertiary sector."

Mr Hipkins said yesterday 1000 quarantine facility spaces had already been allocated for international students in the coming months.

But so far, only a very small number of those spaces had been taken up.

"Before we allocate more, we’re obviously going to want to see the existing 1000 that we’ve got being taken up."

The new training centre, which is expected to be completed in October 2022.

The Government was investing $28million in the project by way of grants and loans.

The project will employ around 200 tradespeople, as well as construction managers and consultants. — Additional reporting RNZ

daisy.hudson@odt.co.nz

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