New Zealand qualifications are highly regarded internationally, and there are provisions for international students to transition to work in New Zealand after completing undergraduate degrees,” enthuses Emma Wood at Otago Polytechnic, when asked to speculate why international students choose to study in New Zealand. She adds, “The relatively low cost of living in New Zealand is appealing, and the overall price of study here is significantly less that that in the UK, USA, Canada and Australia.”
Victoria University of Wellington is “one of New Zealand’s oldest universities with an international reputation for academic excellence in teaching and research across seven faculties”, says Shelley Cartwright, highlighting a large number of significant research centres and institutes, major grants for research and publication in top international journals.
Annually around 3,000 overseas students attend Victoria, and student support is one of the university’s strengths, Cartwright attests, emphasising the receipt of the Education New Zealand Award for Excellence in Student Support in 2011. “[With] over 50 years of looking after the needs of international students, the university has developed a well-rounded approach which includes welcoming students into a warm and open environment and providing guidance every step of the way.”
Pastoral care ensures a smooth transition to life and study at Otago Polytechnic, informs Wood. Otago offers courses from certificate level to master’s degrees, with fields such as tourism management, IT, design, midwifery, and hospitality currently proving particularly popular for overseas markets. “International students enjoy our small classes, which allow them plenty of one-on-one time with our expert teachers,” she adds.
“Another main attraction,” Woods says, “is our focus on applied learning and graduates’ work readiness. Work experience placements are integrated into most of our programmes, meaning key industry contacts are made before our students even finish their studies.” Placements are augmented by tailored career advice.
“Located just outside Christchurch and set in 58 hectares of park-like grounds, Lincoln University is New Zealand’s specialist land-based university,” enthuses Ian Douthwaite. Established in 1878, “Lincoln now focuses on ways in which land supports an internationally competitive and sustainable economy as well as a harmonious and healthy society.” Douthwaite continues, “Programmes in agricultural science, horticulture, viticulture, and oenology, as well as in related fields such as ecology, bio-protection and biosecurity, and food science concentrate on sustainable use of land for food production, while other programmes in environmental management and planning, tourism, sport and recreation management, and landscape architecture focus more on the interaction of people with the land.
Lincoln’s small size and semi-rural setting offers a distinctively New Zealand small college town experience to its 3,500 students, says Douthwaite. Nonetheless, Lincoln is one of the country’s most internationalised campuses, with around one third of the intake from overseas.
As a dual-sector institution, Unitec Institute of Technology in Auckland provides both degrees and vocational courses. “At Unitec, we offer study from certificate through to PhD level study,” advises Vivienne Kingsbury. “Unitec offers qualifications that also have professional body recognition as well, such as accounting, osteopathy, teaching, nursing, architecture and civil engineering this is a win-win for the students, who after completing their Unitec qualification, can go on to apply for membership to the professional boards/bodies.”
Unitec has relationships with several UK institutions and students are able to apply for cross-credits from UK degree study if they want to transfer to Unitec, Kingsbury explains, adding fees are lower than universities.
Kingsbury explains post-study work rights make New Zealand an attractive destination. “International students are able to stay in New Zealand after their studies and apply for the graduate job search visa, which allows students to stay in New Zealand for a year, while they look for employment which is related to their qualification. When they secure a position, they can apply for New Zealand permanent residence.”
New Zealand’s Minister for Tertiary Education, Steven Joyce, has announced ambitious plans to double the value of the country’s education exports by 2025 to NZ$5 billion (US$3.8 billion). Although the 2011 earthquake impacted on enrolments in Christchurch by 37 per cent last year, a six per cent rise across the rest of the country minimised the overall decline to 0.5 per cent (see STM, June 2012, page 9).
Trends and recruitment
Looking at student trends, Emma Wood notes that Otago Polytechnic has seen the number of Chinese students steadily increasing. The institution has also experienced a spike in study abroad programmes, with students coming from partner institutions worldwide for a semester. Vivienne Kingsbury at Unitec Institute of Technology, meanwhile, observes, “Unitec (and New Zealand) has seen growth in the Saudi Arabia market due to the government choosing New Zealand as a study destination for their students.” She adds that China, India and South Korea are also key markets.
In terms of recruitment, Wood signals a mixed approach. “We encourage international students to come to Otago Polytechnic through direct recruitment campaigns, strong agent relationships and global institution partnerships. We are keen to build new relationships with establised, quality agents who are committed to working with us long- term. Kingsbury says that Unitec are looking to increase student numbers. “We do not seek further agents, but will work with interested parties if there is interest and some traction with new agents seeking to work with Unitec.”