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Outdoor Adventure Lures Int Students


International Students Lured With Outdoor Adventure Programmes

Twenty secondary schools, many from small rural towns, have formed an export network with the assistance of Trade New Zealand to offer international students a wide variety of outdoor education programmes, ranging from snowboarding, mountaineering and caving to yachting, kayaking, rafting and golf. The Outdoor Education New Zealand (ODENZ) export network – which includes schools from locations such as Turangi, Motueka, Hokitika, Methven, Fairlie and Cromwell – recently returned from a two week mission to Germany where they held seminars and meetings with agents and students in six cities.

Arthur Graves, the export network chairperson and Greymouth High School Principal, says the schools are offering German students the opportunity to combine their passion for outdoor adventure with top academic learning on short or long-stay education programmes.

He says the recent mission to Germany was extremely successful on several levels.

“For many of the 14 participants it was their first experience of international marketing and was an enormously valuable learning curve. There was significant interest from both agents and students in our concept with several ODENZ schools already receiving enquiries from German students. And it was downright interesting to learn about another education system in its own context.”

Trade New Zealand Account Manager Ian Reedy helped develop the export network and accompanied the group on its recent mission to Germany. He says that by focusing on outdoor education, the schools are building a new niche for New Zealand’s international education sector.

“The outdoor education focus is also helping to attract students to New Zealand from beyond our traditional Asian markets and it’s drawing them to schools in locations outside the main centres.”

Mr Reedy says the export network decided to target the German market initially for several reasons.

“Germans generally have a positive perception of New Zealand as a clean, green environment and a great outdoor adventure playground. The Germans also appreciate New Zealand’s high academic standing internationally, which has been supported by several recent OECD studies.”

He says German students from higher academic streams often take a year out to study abroad when they are about 16 years old. New Zealand is seen as a relatively safe and easy country to get into compared with the USA, the traditional market for German students travelling abroad.

Mr Graves says the 20 export network members want to attract international students to their schools primarily for financial and cultural reasons.

“Most of the schools need to earn cash through alternative means to supplement the money they receive from the Government. Just as importantly, it’s really good for New Zealand students to mix with students from other cultures to widen their experience. New Zealand is an isolated country and we live in a big world. Students, particularly those from small towns, are not used to dealing with other languages and cultures.”

For the international students, he says the rural location of many of the schools is a positive.

“Outdoor education is one of those interest areas that people have a passion for and small, rural towns have the best outdoor facilities on their doorstep – you don’t find mountains in the middle of Christchurch or whitewater rafting in Auckland.”

Mr Graves says he sees many benefits for the schools in working together to market their outdoor education programmes internationally.

“We maximise our impact and we keep costs down for the individual network members. My school isn’t big and it’s not wealthy, so it’s not easy finding money for sustained marketing. Trade New Zealand’s financial support and leadership has helped the network enormously. Their Hamburg office also put our German itinerary together, identifying the agents and schools we met with and making sure that everything ran smoothly.” Mr Graves says within the next 18-36 months, each of the 20 schools wants to have at least five German students enrolled in an outdoor education programme. The network will then springboard off its success in Germany to target a second market, possibly Scandinavia and then a third. A website (www.outdoorednz.co.nz) has been launched and new marketing material is being developed to support its objectives.

For more information:

Arthur Graves, Outdoor New Zealand Education Export Network Chairman and Greymouth High School Principal, phone 03 768 0472, email mailto: mailto:principal@greyhigh.school.nz

Ian Reedy, Trade New Zealand Account Manager, phone 03 364 5000, email mailto: mailto:ian.reedy@tradenz.govt.nz

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