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New Zealand continues targeted investments in international education

The New Zealand government announced a further NZ $465,000 in international education business development earlier this month with a second round of funding grants for the International Education Growth Fund (IEGF).

The latest awards follow an initial round of Growth Fund grants in summer 2013. The programme, administered by Education New Zealand (ENZ), will soon accept proposals for a third planned cycle in March 2014.

The IEGF is a matching programme, through which eligible organisations (including institutions, peak bodies, or private businesses offering educational products or services) can access matching funds to support new international market development initiatives. The funds are “matching” in the sense that applicants are required to invest funds of their own with investments ranging from a minimum of NZ $10,000 to NZ $50,000 per project. To date, the fund has approved grants of more than NZ $1.4 million for 41 projects with a combined marketing investment, including the applicants’ contributions, of more than NZ $2.8 million.

In making the funding announcement this month, Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce noted,

“New Zealand’s future prosperity depends on our ability to successfully export our products and services internationally, and that includes the delivery of New Zealand education offshore, as well as recruiting more students to study here.”

“The first round of funding released in June 2013 has already delivered results: Wellington-based company Software Education, has launched five new courses in Singapore and signed six new partnerships with US organisations; and Kiwa Digital, of Auckland, has used its funding to close international contracts valued at NZ $386,000.”

Funding is targeted to projects that respond to the following stated goals for the IEGF:

  • “Boost innovation in the international education supply chain, including new products that better meet the demand of international students;
  • Increase the number of international students studying with New Zealand providers both on and offshore;
  • Open up new avenues for business diversification;
  • Increase revenue from the provision of education products and services offshore;
  • Promote and increase the number of collaborative international education projects.”

The IEGF is part of a broader package of industrial supports and investments designed to help New Zealand drive its ambitious goal of doubling its international student enrolment by 2025. Interestingly, New Zealand’s national international education strategies have become increasingly focused in recent years, and the IEGF appears to reflect that focus at the more micro level of an individual project or partnership in the international education sector.

The latest round of IEGF awards provides funding for 12 business development projects. A majority of the approved projects target markets in Asia, particularly the world’s leading market, China, but also emerging ASEAN states as well. And the bulk of the grants in this most recent round have gone to New Zealand institutions aiming to boost their foreign student enrolments.

Massey University is one of the recipients in the current round. The university secured a NZ $45,000 grant to support the development and promotion of a new articulation programme for a Bachelor of Information Sciences degree to be offered in partnership with China’s Hebei University of Technology (HEBUT).

Under a “3+1” articulation model, Chinese students will complete the first three years of their degree studies at HEBUT, and then move to Massey for the fourth and final year. Over the first three years, Massey lecturers will teach a range of courses at HEBUT in English, and the students will graduate with a Massey University degree after successfully concluding their studies in New Zealand.

“We have been working closely with HEBUT in Tianjin since 2008 to develop a new co-learning experience that benefits both countries,” said Assistant Vice-Chancellor Operations, International and University Registrar Stuart Morriss. “This initiative will enable Massey academics to work in China with prospective students before they come to New Zealand, and also enhance the students’ English skills before they come to New Zealand to complete their degree.”

“Funding from Education New Zealand to support this development is greatly appreciated,” added Professor Don Cleland, the Head of Massey’s School of Engineering and Advanced Technology. “If successful, this initiative will help address the skills shortage in NZ [Information, Communication, and Technology] businesses, will strengthen collaboration with China, and will contribute to internationalisation of Massey’s offering.”

The IEGF grants are an interesting indication of New Zealand’s commitment to targeted investment in international education, whether in a major market like China – where New Zealand aims to build a reputation for quality and regain a more significant share of Chinese students abroad – or in important emerging markets in ASEAN, the Middle East, or Latin America.

From March 3 to March 28, Education New Zealand is inviting applications for a third round of the IEGF for projects commencing June 2014 or later.

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