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Victoria University Wins Export Award

Education Exporting Success - Victoria University Wins Export Award

Victoria University of Wellington has been awarded a Trade New Zealand Export Award for its highly successful marketing to international students, more than doubling numbers in the past two years.

(The presentation of the Victoria University Export Award by Trade New Zealand Chief Executive Fran Wilde, is at 4pm on Thursday 14 February, at The Council Chambers, Hunter Building, Victoria University. The Export Awards are sponsored by DHL Worldwide Express).

In 2001 the University had 952 international students – up from the 453 who attended in 1999. The majority of those students came from from China, the USA, Malaysia, Scandinavia and Germany. They generated $10.65 million in direct fees for the University and pumped millions more into the Wellington economy through spending on accommodation, transport, food and entertainment.

Professor Neil Quigley, Victoria University Pro Vice-Chancellor of Commerce and International, says the massive increase in international student numbers over the past two years has come about as a result of adopting a strategic approach to building international awareness of the high quality of Victoria University’s teaching, research and support for students.

Professor Quigley says this approach combines the development of articulation agreements and joint programmes with tertiary institutions in other countries, the use of a high quality network of agents, and an informative website that allows students to assess the quality and range of its programmes.

“This strategy has provided opportunities for staff and students to participate in international research collaborations and international exchanges, as well as the opportunity for the University to expand its student base and generate new sources of revenue,” says Professor Quigley.

“Our staff and students benefit from the diverse perspectives that international students bring to the University. The mix of overseas students also contributes to the vitality and diversity of Wellington city.”

Victoria University’s strategy has involved selecting a small number of markets from which to develop a long-term base of overseas students – Malaysia, China, the USA, Indonesia and Northern Europe (Sweden, Germany and Norway).

Tim Fowler, Manager of Victoria University’s International Centre, says that since no two markets are the same, the University has designed unique solutions for each individual market. In some markets it emphasises partnering with other universities and in others it uses agents to represent Victoria.

Trade New Zealand Chief Executive Fran Wilde says Victoria University’s International Centre’s business systems are organised around the needs of the student.

“It recognises that continual change and innovation in these areas is required to be competitive and meet the rapidly growing demand for its services,” says Ms Wilde.

“Growth in student numbers has also been stimulated by the development of partner programmes and an effective agent network that have allowed the university to quickly develop a bigger programme without investing heavily in its own infrastructure.”

Tim Fowler says the University is also developing innovative ways of adding value to existing education programmes and creating new niche programmes. An initiative starting this year is a short-stay rugby programme targeted at university rugby clubs across the USA. Delivered in conjunction with the Old Boys-University Rugby Club and Bodyworks Fitness Centre, the first American students in the Rugby Study Abroad programme arrive in Wellington this month.

“We have developed a niche product that combines the study abroad experience with something exciting and unique to New Zealand.”

Mr Fowler says that a focus on student care and satisfaction has also contributed to Victoria University’s strong growth in international student numbers, with satisfied students being a valuable word-of-mouth marketing tool when they return home.

“We’ve introduced a customer care programme as a pro-active measure to test satisfaction and pre-empt any personal or academic problems. It’s contact the student isn't expecting and it’s had great feedback.”

The University is aiming to generate 20% of its revenue from international activities by 2011. It will achieve this by cementing its position in its existing markets, expanding into a small number of additional markets and aggressively promoting the quality and relevance of its academic programmes.

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