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New Zealand is a small dot on a very large map in international education, and appears to punch above its weight.
Nobody wants to see them leaving our shores, but New Zealand-trained teachers are a sought-after commodity in international markets. The OE experience in the UK is especially popular for newly-trained teachers, and the Brit classrooms want them. Recruitment is relatively straightforward, and educational authorities elsewhere aren't putting up too many hoops for the travelling teachers to jump through, with recruitment agencies quickly smoothing the way with work ready when the teacher lands at Heathrow.
They are generally a good advertisement for the country while they are away. Most return, with enhanced skills and experience and an increased appreciation of training, facilities and education in New Zealand.
In the course of gathering and editing this publication it became evident the different export education sectors and regions work together quite well, but the players won't play nice all the time. They have competing interests in attracting offshore students.
But it's a lot healthier here than other countries. Canada, for example, had no nationally-coordinated marketing strategy for international students until two years ago. Provinces clambered over each other competing for students, in line with Canada's provincially-driven education delivery.
Cohesion and cooperation is forced on New Zealand institutions, to some extent. The tyranny of distance and size obliges cooperation. No player here is large enough to compete internationally on its own. To impact outside the country, it's work together or be ignored.
Focus is a key. The days when thousands of students from China would satisfy the local market are gone. There are at least eight more important targets now, with extraordinary growth in the number of students from India. This may increase with Australian numbers falling dramatically since immigration was tightened on students moving there to learn and to stay.
Attracting students is similar for secondary, private training and tertiary sectors. It is the same brand – quality education and lifestyle. For secondary school students, parents are more involved and want assurance New Zealand is a safe destination for their children and that their qualifications will be useful back home and in any subsequent tertiary training. The message is tweaked slightly for tertiary students, and again for students from different countries. Offshore agents are crucial – they know what people in their countries and different sectors are looking for and their feedback to New Zealand institutions is essential. They have to get it right.
Interest from educators will also move the other way. Offshore students take their training home, opening interest in other sectors including early childhood, special needs and other education skills, leading to exchange programmes and offshore opportunities for New Zealand students and educators.
The many facets of export and international education can seem to operate in silos but they are inextricably linked. All the players need to recognise the ripple effect flowing between them.
Geoff Vause, Editor