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New Zealand introduces international strategy and revamped agent recognition programme

Short on time? Here are the highlights:

  • New Zealand has formally launched an international education strategy that will help guide the sector’s development through 2030
  • The strategy aims for a significant increase in the economic impact of the sector over the next decade, but otherwise places the emphasis on the quality of New Zealand education and the satisfaction of visiting students
  • Capping off a month of important policy and sector announcements, Education New Zealand will also relaunch its agent training and agent recognition scheme later this year

New Zealand is moving forward with a new 12-year international education strategy – the New Zealand Education Strategy 2018–2030 – that prioritises student experience, educational quality, and spreading international enrolments throughout all regions. Quality over quantity is the central message, and the strategy does not include international student enrolment targets – instead stating measurable goals for international student satisfaction.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins formally launched the new strategy at the New Zealand International Education Conference in Wellington earlier this month.

New Zealand’s Minister of Education, Chris Hipkins, announces the New Zealand Education Strategy 2018–2030 at the New Zealand International Education Conference in Wellington in August.

The New Zealand Education Strategy 2018–2030 replaces the 2011 Leadership Statement for International Education. First released as a draft for consultation in June 2017, it was finalised over the past year through consultation across government agencies and with international education stakeholders including educators, students, peak bodies, and community groups.

International education a pillar

The strategy reveals the New Zealand government’s understanding of fundamental role of international education in the overall economy and culture of New Zealand today. From the strategy document:

“International education intersects with a range of government portfolios, particularly education, immigration, tourism, trade and foreign affairs. Change in one area can have ramifications for others. Policies, practices and regulation in all areas need to align to support not just international education but Government’s broader strategic objectives around wellbeing and a sustainable, productive and inclusive economy.”

Three goals

The three overarching goals of the strategy are (1) delivering an excellent international education experience, (2) achieving sustainable growth (through high-quality international education providers, with a range of educational offerings and target markets, and across all New Zealand’s regions), and (3) developing global citizens.

Goals and targets include:

  • International student satisfaction rates of 92–95% by 2025 and 94–97% by 2030
  • The economic value of the sector reaching NZD$6 billion (US$4 billion) by 2025
  • By 2030, double the uptake of education pathways embarked on by international students in New Zealand
  • More economic value from the sector from across all regions
  • More domestic students studying abroad

A change in approach

Ms Claire Douglas, Ministry of Education Deputy Secretary, Graduate Achievement, Vocations and Careers, says the strategy represents new priorities for the sector:

“[It] shifts its primary focus to lifting the quality of international education and student experience, and maximising the social and cultural benefits in addition to its economic value.

It also aims to ensure that the benefits of international education are shared with regions nationwide. International students provide us a different world perspective, and contribute to a globally-connected and culturally diverse New Zealand. Bringing international education closer to the regions enables more New Zealanders to understand and embrace those benefits.”

Education Minister Chris Hipkins adds, “It’s a quality proposition, not a numbers game.” He continued: “Sometimes if you focus just on numbers and economic values, it tends to cloud everything else. While the wider value and wide contribution of international education has always been there, it’s really about celebrating that more.”

The industry is already a crucial one in New Zealand today. As the report notes, in 2017 it:

  • Contributed an estimated NZD$4.4 billion to the New Zealand economy
  • Enrolled 125,390 international students, 4,810 of which were studying at the PhD level
  • Supported 33,000 jobs in the country

Expanded post-study work rights

Just two days prior to the launch of The New Zealand Education Strategy 2018–2030, Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway had announced expanded post-study work rights for foreign students, with the Minister noting: “Work opportunities are part of the package that makes us competitive with other nations that seek to attract international students. If we look at our [post-study work policy] and how it compares with our major competitors, we have in fact improved our position. [Under the new policy] we remain second only to Canada in terms of the work rights that people receive.”

Revamped agent recognition programme

Capping off the news from New Zealand, Education New Zealand’s Chief Executive Grant McPherson has announced that ENZ’s Recognised Agency programme (ENZRA) will start up again on 1 November 2018, with a refreshed training course, supports, and requirements for agents. Roughly half of international students coming to New Zealand use agents, and ENZ’s aim is to ensure the quality of agents available to students and to provide a consistent standard of conduct.

To retain or gain Recognised Agency status, agents will have to:

  • Meet a points target (where points are earned by referring students to study in New Zealand)
  • Comply with standards of conduct
  • Undertake training as required

An accompanying statement from Education New Zealand advises that, “From August 2018, a range of current Recognised Agencies, and other education agencies will be invited to retain or gain their Recognised Agency status. If by 1 September 2018 you have not been invited and believe you meet the requirements to become a Recognised Agency, you can apply to become one.”

Agents who have gained ENZ Recognised Agency Status will be reviewed on an annual basis to ensure they are meeting required criteria.

There are significant benefits for agents gaining Recognised Agency Status. Mr McPherson noted: “Only those high-performance agencies who consistently meet our core objectives will earn the right to use the ENZRA logo. In return, the ENZRA programme will strengthen the value proposition for Recognised Agencies by providing them with increased support, training, local market intelligence and bespoke marketing collateral.”

For additional background, please see:

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