Quarantine students in Queenstown plan backed

The Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) chief executive is talking to Queenstown’s mayor to make it the "quarantine capital" of the South Island in a bid to attract more international students.

During a SIT board meeting yesterday, Penny Simmonds said she contacted Jim Boult about the idea.

She also informed the board she received a letter from Education Minister Chris Hipkins who was examining this matter.

"We are pulling together the most information as we can to assist the minister in this decision."

It follows a speech by Auckland’s mayor who said his council, along with education sector, were preparing a submission to the Government.

Mayor Phil Goff said he wanted Auckland to be a prototype for a quarantine process that would safely allow high-value students to come to New Zealand for their education.

Ms Simmonds said the discussions were still in the early stages.

"Auckland is positioning themselves as the quarantine capital for the country. I have been in touch with Jim Boult and we considered Queenstown could be a very good quarantine place for the South Island.

"Jim is writing a letter of support indicating that would fit well for the Queenstown recovery plan."

Mr Boult approved the concept.

"I think the idea is excellent for the area. What better place in the world to be self-isolated than Queenstown? I think it is a really good idea."

A few weeks ago, Ms Penny said income derived from international students corresponded to about $1.5million of the total $8million total revenue for SIT.

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