[Newshub] Universities want Chinese students exempted from coronavirus travel ban
Universities have acknowledged the coronavirus crisis has highlighted their dependence on China as a source of foreign students.
In the last financial year Chinese students provided about a third of New Zealand's 100,000 foreign students, one of the highest figures on record, and about half of the foreign students at universities.
Whelan said universities had increasingly looked to foreign students to make up for a long-term real decline in per-student funding from the government.
"Eleven percent of all the funding of universities now comes from international students and these are universities that generate generally [surpluses of] about 3 percent a year so if we lost our international students tomorrow every university and in fact probably every tertiary provider would start generating losses as of tomorrow," he said.
"Whether or not we want to be overly-reliant on China, we've had to accept that China is a huge and important market for us and take those students."
The president of the Tertiary Education Union, Michael Gilchrist, said it had warned for some time that tertiary institutions were relying too much on income from foreign students.
"There are real financial risks developing," he said.
"We are lobbying strongly for the Tertiary Education Commission to provide some assurances of support for tertiary institutions."
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