The New Zealand International Education Conference 2012 provided the perfect opportunity to take stock of what has been accomplished and what lies ahead for New Zealand’s $2.7 billion dollar international education industry.
The New Zealand International Education Conference (NZIEC2012) is the New Zealand international education industry’s key annual gathering, bringing together education institutions, businesses, and organisations involved in attracting international students to New Zealand and exporting education products and services offshore.
More than 450 people attended the 2 November conference; 320 attended a conference dinner the evening before where Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister, Steven Joyce, was the keynote speaker.
Commenting on the conference, Education New Zealand (ENZ) chief executive Grant McPherson said the general mood was one of confidence that the industry was laying a solid foundation for future growth, but tempered by the reality of the size of the challenges ahead.
One statistic mentioned a number of times at the conference wasthat India needed to train 43,000 graduates a day. That was seen as a great opportunity for New Zealand, but to make the most of it, the industry was told it needed to do things differently, including greater collaboration to overcome both the (large) size of the Indian market and the (small) size of New Zealand education providers.
Mr Joyce spoke on the importance of international education to New Zealand and the Government’s international education strategy.
At last year’s conference,the minister launched the Government’s Leadership Statement for International Education, which sets out ambitious growth goals for the industry. These include doubling the value of education services delivered in New Zealand to $5 billion by 2025, and over the same period, increase annual revenues from providing international education services offshore to $500 million.
In his conference speech, McPherson spoke of the “incredible journey” the industry has been on for the past 18 months.
He said the industry had come a long way from the early stages of considering what needed to be done for international education, through to extensive consultation on the establishment of ENZ, to finally completing its first 12 months.
“Over that period, the visibility and importance of international education has increased markedly. There is a clear message from the Government that international education is seen as one of the priority areas for advancement.”
McPherson said the greater focus on improving New Zealand’s performance in international education had resulted in significant benefits to New Zealand, as well as the international partners ENZ dealt with.
“It allows us to highlight the strengths of New Zealand and our education system, the quality of our programmes, which are highly valued around the world, the style of our learning environment, our innovative companies, our lifestyle experiences, and our welcoming approach.
“We are also able to showcase that New Zealand education providers have something to offer the world – both here in New Zealand and overseas.”
He said the international education industryprovided a significant economic return for New Zealand, including jobs and additional incomefor our education institutions.
The industry attracts nearly 100,000 students a year and directly creates around 12,000 full-time jobs. Education providers received over $700 million in fees last year. Education services exports were worth $100 million.
He said ENZ’s role was to tell the New Zealand education story in international markets and pave the way for industry success in these markets.
“Consultation and feedback is an essential part of developing ENZ’s purpose and strategy.”
Working with key stakeholders, ENZ co-created itscornerstone purpose statement: Taking New Zealand education experiences to the world for enduring economic, social, and cultural benefits.
McPherson said ENZ wanted to make sure the statement encompassed both student attraction sector of the industry and exporters of education services such as consulting, publishing and technology providers.
As a result, he said ENZ hadthree key areas of focus: promotion, collaboration, and information and support.
“For Education NZ, we need to ensure we add value in what we do and where we can make a difference.”
NZIEC2012 proceedings can be found here: http://conference.educationnz.org.nz