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‘Avoid Strangulation by Regulation’

Education New Zealand: 21/09/04

‘Avoid Strangulation by Regulation’

‘The PPTA’s call for more regulation around international student operations is uncalled for, unnecessary and undesirable’ said Robert Stevens, Chief Executive of Education New Zealand. ‘Strangulation by regulation will do nothing to enhance the educational prospects for international students or domestic students. The current regulatory framework is more than adequate to cover the international operations of our schools sector’.

The PPTA discussed issues around international students at secondary schools at their Conference today. Key concerns raised included possible dependency on international student income, the possibility of capping student numbers, and concern about the uneven distribution of student related income through the schools sector.

‘Good on the PPTA for looking at issues relating to international students – we certainly want to get wide ranging discussion on this very important aspect of our education system’ said Robert Stevens. ‘What is not so good is the tendency of the discussion paper to view international students in solely economic terms. International students are not a ‘cash cow’ for schools. The educational, social and cultural benefits of international students are every bit as important as the economic value.’

‘It follows from this that the desire to spread the perceived financial benefits more widely that was expressed by the PPTA certainly does not take into account the students views. The reasons why some schools have more students than others is related to both the individual school policies on international education, and the desirability, often geographic, of the school to the student. International students have a genuine choice, of country and of institution. They exercise that choice according to their needs. Any move to artificially control that choice would be enormously damaging to New Zealand’s reputation, quite apart from the probable violation of international services agreements’.

‘The PPTA also cast doubts on the management abilities of schools, and potential conflicts of interest’ said Robert Stevens. ‘Schools need sound business management as a matter of course – this has nothing to do with international students. The ethics relating to the behaviour of school staff and management are set down in legislation under the Education Act, State Sector Act and Public Finance Act. Ethics relating to marketing and information to students are governed by the Code of Practice. Schools that are involved in international education need to, and do, look very carefully at the way in which this activity will affect the school as a whole.

They are prohibited by law from subsidising international students from domestic funding. Equally, schools know that they have to ensure that if they are to provide the quality of education that international students deserve, which is equal to that of domestic students, they must invest in their educational resources wisely and well. The benefits are a win-win - greater opportunities for all students, and that is why many schools are enthusiastic about international students.’

‘The ERO have been charged with monitoring international student activities in schools’ said Robert Stevens. ‘Their major study in 2003 was very positive, and noted that international students were not found to have a negative impact on the provision of education to domestic students.

These findings are in accord with practical experience. In short, the system works. The PPTA’s fears are unfounded. Any irregularities that do crop up are capable of being dealt with under existing provisions. The legislative hippopotamus that the PPTA seeks to unleash can be safely left in the swamp of unnecessary red tape’.


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