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12th Jul 2017

New Zealand releases international education strategy

The Government of New Zealand released a draft international education strategy on 30 June 2017. The product of industry consultations throughout 2016, the draft strategy will be open for further comment until 31 August, after which point the strategy will be finalised and then launched late this year. The draft sets out broad goals and priorities with a particular emphasis on the role that government will play in encouraging the further development of New Zealand’s international education sector through 2025. As a top-line goal, the strategy aims to grow the economic value of the country’s education exports from the current (as of 2015/16) NZ$4.04 billion (US$3.1 billion) to NZ$5 billion over the next eight years. “International education has grown rapidly to become New Zealand’s fourth biggest export earner,” said Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Paul Goldsmith. “The draft strategy aims to ensure New Zealand continues to benefit from international education through a high quality and sustainable international education sector. The government will work with the sector to encourage the development of innovative products and services, and continue to diversify our markets and to support regional economic growth."

Building on growth

Indeed, full year results reveal that New Zealand’s international enrolment grew again in 2016, up 6% over the year before to reach more than 131,000 students. China and India remain the big senders for New Zealand, but whereas Chinese student numbers grew by 13% in 2016, the number of Indian students declined by 3%. Education New Zealand notes that, “This change was concentrated across the unfunded Private Training Establishments (PTEs) (-1268, -10%) and funded PTEs (-1092, -13%) sectors, but was offset by growth in English Language Teaching (+254, 391%) and Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (+792, 12%) sectors. This is a rebalancing of the India market, following the implementation of Rule 18 in 2015, and subsequent additional measures.” Building on the accreditation criteria set out in Rule 18, the government recently added new rules that will make it harder for foreign workers, including foreign graduates, to qualify for the Skilled Migrant visa category. This will in turn make it more difficult for foreign graduates who cannot meet the new requirements to stay and work in New Zealand for an extended period after their studies or to pursue permanent residency in the country.

The first six things to do

The draft sets out six immediate priorities for government and industry action. First, the government signals its commitment to “getting the rules right” for international education: “The government will continuously strengthen its regulatory settings to build rigour and consistency and ensure quality education. This will ensure that bona fide students are attracted to study in New Zealand, that they are more likely to succeed in their study and that their post-study opportunities are well understood.” The strategy also prioritises an expanded advocacy effort aimed at building public awareness of and support for international education. In terms of enrolment management, the emphasis is placed on diversifying sending markets. China and India account for roughly half of all education exports for New Zealand, and the draft document indicates that the government will expand its market intelligence effort to help educators identify and open new markets. The strategy highlights a second diversification challenge for the sector in New Zealand in that nearly two-thirds of all international students in the country are enrolled in institutions in Auckland. “This concentration is contributing to the infrastructure, housing, and quality pressures the city is experiencing,” says the draft. “Other regions of New Zealand have capacity for growth and to provide a positive experience for both international and New Zealand students. A more strategic regional development approach for international education is required to realise these opportunities.” To close out the set of initial priorities, the draft strategy calls for innovation in programmes and services for international students, aided again by market intelligence supported by the government. It also spotlights the implementation of New Zealand’s International Student Wellbeing Strategy. The Wellbeing Strategy was released on 13 June and it in turns maps out four focus areas for government agencies that touch international education: economic wellbeing, education, health, and inclusion. As such, it has a broad mandate to strengthen government policy and process relating to the education experience, support services, and post-graduate opportunities available to international students. For additional background, please see:

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