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March 17, 2014 | by  | in Homepage News | [ssba]

Get In-ternational Students, or Get Out?

The Labour Party has distanced itself from outspoken MP Shane Jones’ comments on international students, but its policy remains unclear.

Speaking at a debate at the University of Auckland last Thursday night, Jones said the emphasis on seeking enrolments from fee-paying students from Asia meant that New Zealand students were being disadvantaged.

“I believe a university should be a storehouse of knowledge, not a foreign warehouse. Universities have to serve Kiwis first,” Jones said.

Labour Spokesperson for Tertiary Education Grant Robertson expressed disagreement, telling Salient he thought Jones “went too far in his comments.”

“We support international students coming to universities in New Zealand because we think they add much to our educational system,” Robertson said.

However, he added that Labour was concerned that universities were “increasingly reliant on international students for revenue because of declining income from government.”

“Chasing down more and more international students should not be such a big focus for universities.”

This comes in direct contradiction to comments made by Labour’s spokesperson for Export Education Raymond Huo. Huo attacked Minister for Tertiary Education Steven Joyce, saying he “needs to pick up his game” in attracting fee-paying international students.

“We must be proactive in capitalising on the opportunities that booming Asian economies has for attracting international students to study here,” Huo said.

The confusion comes amid reports that Mr Jones was reprimanded by Labour leader David Cunliffe for straying into other MPs’ areas of responsibility.

VUWSA President Sonya Clark told Salient that she disagreed with Mr Jones’ comments, saying that the way in which the funding model works means that local students are “not in competition” with those from overseas.

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