Wellington. Many foreign doctoral students and their children coming to study in New Zealand will pay the same for their education as the locals from next year.
The Government will pay the same tuition-fee subsidy as it does for domestic students, which Trevor Mallard, the Education Minister, said he hoped would make New Zealand universities more attractive "as study destinations and research locations in the international education market".
"It will result in greater interest from international PhD students with school-age children who have not previously been able to afford to come here," he said.
The fee relief is something universities have been seeking. They see the measure as a way to increase research capability and performance.
Doctoral study costs about NZ$22,000 (£8,335) a year for full-fee paying students. Domestic students (and students from Australia, Germany and France, which have reciprocal arrangements) pay about $3,300.
Foreign secondary students pay up to NZ$18,000 to attend school.
Cheaper study will not be offered to all PhD students. Mr Mallard said the new fees would apply "where they are supervised by leading researchers".
Asked how leading researchers would be identified, a spokesperson for the minister said: "Those sorts of implementation details are still being finalised."
But it is likely to be the universities rather than Government that will be prescriptive. They see the subsidy as a means of filling identified gaps in research strength, especially in maths and sciences; and in areas such as biotechnolgy that have the potential to provide national economic benefits.
The minister said he hoped international PhD graduates would choose to stay on and pursue careers in New Zealand.