Immigration New Zealand will be asked to tighten controls and checks on international students and their agents at a seminar in Auckland today.

About 116,600 applied for student visas in the year to June with more than 99,000 approved to study here.

Over the period 912 student visa holders were declined a further student visa, with India topping the list on 209 declines followed by China with 205 and Fiji with 92.

Immigration New Zealand said the students were declined because they cannot prove they are bona fide students. Reasons for rejection included being unable to prove a genuine intention towards their stay or study plans, and failure to show they had access to enough money to support their study plans.


June Ranson, New Zealand Association for Migration and Investment (NZAMI) chairwoman, said the student visa was seen as an easy pathway to gain permanent residence.

She said many international students who came here were not genuine students and education was not the primary motive.

"Many come with a clear migration agenda - choosing the cheapest possible course and finding jobs in 'no future' careers in New Zealand just to gain residence," said Ms Ranson.

"Too many, often from India, are being 'sold' student visas by unlicensed so-called education advisers based on low-level courses with the promise of subsequent residence status being easily obtained or almost automatic."

The number of applicants being declined a student visa last year was 17,564 from 116,582 applications, up from 6298 the previous year when there were 93,544 applications.

The total number of international students over the period increased 16 per cent from the previous year, which was also the second year-on-year increase. China remained the largest source country of international students on 27 per cent, followed by India on 23 per cent and South Korea on 6 per cent.

The failings of New Zealand's policy will be discussed at a panel session called "Hitting the reset button on international students". The panel will include Immigration's education relationship manager Celia Coombes, Education New Zealand general manager Peter Bull and NZAMI representatives. It will discuss tighter controls, policy and whether New Zealand is being promoted to international students fairly.