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Report on Research into the Circumstances of Very Young International Students in NZ

Publication Details

This report on research into the circumstances of very young international students informed policy work in 2003 resulting in stronger protections for international students aged 13 and under studying in New Zealand. A downloadable Word version of the report is available at the bottom of this page.

Author(s): International Division

Date Published: 27 July 2006

Executive Summary

1. The number of very young international students (aged 13 years and under) studying in New Zealand has grown significantly in recent years. Along with this growth, there have arisen concerns regarding the living circumstances and care of students in this age group, and the adequacy of the policy framework protecting them. This report synthesises the results of research and consultation regarding very young international students, which has been carried out by the Ministry to support its formulation of policy advice on their pastoral care.

2. Information was gathered for this report from schools, private training establishments, community and sector groups, and key informant interviews, including with child development experts.

3. Findings from this report include:

    • The volume of very young international students enrolled with New Zealand providers has increased rapidly over the past few years. In 2003 there are over 4,300 students in this age group, only half of whom reportedly live with a parent while in New Zealand. Ninety percent of all very young international students come from South Korea.There is a recognition among education providers that very young students are vulnerable and require special care. Very young international students face particular issues and may be at greater risk than others, because they are far from home during a critical, formative period in their development while in an unfamiliar cultural and linguistic milieu.
    • The Code of Practice of the Pastoral Care of International Students (the Code) has recently been strengthened to improve the pastoral care and welfare of all international students.
    • New Zealand's legislative and policy framework surrounding young children emphasises the primacy of the welfare of the child, and the importance and responsibility of the child's family in ensuring that welfare.
    • There is a body of opinion among providers enrolling very young international students that the Code, as it currently stands, may adequately protect the interest and welfare of these students.
    • In contrast there is a countervailing body of opinion from sector and community groups, and key informants, including experts in child development and family studies, raising concerns about students' pastoral care and support, and the impact of living arrangements and separation from a parental figure on their educational, psychological and social development.

The body of evidence and opinion summarised in this report will be considered by the Ministry as it develops further policy advice in relation to the care of very young international students.

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