Thousands of student visas would be cut under Labour govt - Little

Labour leader Andrew Little has promised to cut immigration numbers by "tens of thousands", and that will include thousands of international students.

"We know that some visas being issued to students to study here are for what I would describe as low-quality courses. They're less about education and more about the right to work that goes with it."

Revenue from international students is very important to tertiary institutions, Mr Little says, but some courses they're taking are "pretty poor quality".

"That's what NZQA and TEC are now finding... so we think there is scope to make a change there."

It's about managing immigration better, he says.

"We're a country built on immigration - we're always going to need talents and skills from other parts of the world.

"But right now we've got numbers coming in that is putting real pressure on our cities, particularly our biggest city of Auckland. We see it with the lack of housing, the pressure on transport and traffic, we see it with overcrowded schools and hospitals, so we have to cut immigration.

"In addition to cutting immigration numbers, we've got to look at the 90,000 young people who are not in education or employment in New Zealand. I'm not prepared to write them off.

"We've seen work visas issued for example for labouring work, and we have 6,000 categorised as labourers, and we have 15,000 unemployed labourers in New Zealand."

He acknowledges businesses around the country are concerned about losing workers, but says Labour is consulting businesses in its policy planning.

"Let me be very clear," finance spokesman Grant Robertson told delegates at the party's convention on Saturday.

"This is a debate about policy. It is not a debate about immigrants. And anyone who makes it about immigrants, or indeed about their race, must be called out for what they are doing as being wrong and against the values of Labour and of New Zealanders."

Mr Robertson later told reporters his remarks weren't aimed at NZ First, a persistent critic of the Government's immigration policies..

"They were not aimed at anyone," he said.

"Immigration has been, and will continue to be, an important part of adding to our skill base and to the rich cultural diversity that we have - if we manage it well it will improve all of our lives, and that is what we will do."

NZN / Newshub.