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Maharey Speech at the Official Opening of Library

Hon Steve Maharey
Minister of Social Services and Employment
Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education)
Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector
MP for Palmerston North

The Challenge of
International Education


Speech at the Official Opening of the Library of the
International Pacific College,
3 May 2000

Check against delivery.
Thank you for inviting me to speak to you here today. We are here to celebrate ten years of the International Pacific College's contribution to Palmerston North, a city that is known in this country as the Knowledge City, and a city that I very much hope will increasingly enjoy that reputation in other parts of the world.

I would like to begin by bringing to you a message of congratulation from the Prime Minister, Rt Hon Helen Clark. The Prime Minister would have liked to have joined you for this celebration today, but she has only recently returned from overseas and she has a great number of duties to catch up on.

I want to welcome you to the community of the International Pacific College, to the community of Palmerston North, and to the community that is this country, Aotearoa – New Zealand. In the language of the first people of this land,

Kia ora koutou
Kia ora e nga hau e wha

Greetings to you all
Greetings to the four winds

I very much hope that your time in this community will be one of learning - not just learning in the high quality environment of the International Pacific College, but also the kind of learning that comes about from the contact with the local community.

This community values the College and will provide a very warm welcome to you all. I see in the audience here today members of the local community who indicate by their presence the esteem in which the College is held, and the willingness of the community to welcome you all. Whether you are enrolling as a student, or visiting for a time to wish a student well as she or he starts on a journey of learning, you are now part of our community.

I am very pleased to be here with you today to mark a decade of the International Pacific College in Palmerston North.

As the members of the local community know, I am the Member of Parliament for the electorate of Palmerston North. I live in this City – I think that the members of this city show admirable good sense and taste in their choice of a local Member of Parliament. Personally I see politics as a form of public service, and for me that service started in local government politics. I was for a number of years a member of the Palmerston North City Council, and I am very proud to say that, as a City Councillor I lobbied to have the International Pacific College locate in this community. I only have to look around at this audience today to know that those efforts were very well placed.

In the time that IPC has been here, our attitude as a nation towards education has changed. As we have moved into the information age, we have see it as a driver of growth.

We still need a vision that values education as:
 Life enriching;
 Good in itself; and
 Fundamental to a better life.

But it must also be a vision for a learning society that can meet the challenges of the 21st century:
 Internationalisation;
 The importance of education to our economy; and
 New technologies.

Facing up to these challenges will mean changes in our tertiary institutions. Preparing them for those changes is what the new Tertiary Education Advisory Commission is all about. The Tertiary Education Commission, established by the new labour-Alliance Government, had its first meeting in Wellington this week.

But how does this affect the International Pacific College?

I see the International Pacific College as an important part of our national tertiary system. Its role can be seen in two ways: based on the fact that it is a Private Training Establishment, and on its mission as a provider of 'export education'.

A Private Training Establishment or PTE is simply any recognised tertiary provider that is not a state institution. The previous Government encouraged an increasing number of PTEs as part of the competitive model.

We will be requiring all PTEs that want state funding to show that they serve a niche – that they add something to our national tertiary system, rather than simply being 'another competitor'.

The International Pacific College does have a clear role. It is an 'export educator'.

'Export education' is about teaching people from other countries, either in their home countries or within New Zealand.

It is something that many tertiary institutions are realising is an important means of earning revenue for themselves, their community and the nation as a whole.

The International Pacific College is way ahead of them.

In the past the College has focussed purely on teaching Japanese students, but now it takes students from 12 different countries.

There is something like 500 international students sitting in front of me today – all of them contributing financially to Palmerston North's economy and culturally to its diversity.

Part of that is because New Zealand is an excellent natural location for 'export education'.

Perhaps our biggest advantage is as English-speaking nation. English is increasingly seen as the international language, and New Zealand is seen as an ideal place to learn English. It is a safe and stable political environment with a reputation for warm hospitality to overseas visitors.

The New Zealand countryside also offers an environment of great natural beauty that visitors can experience during their stay, accompanied by a great variety of recreational and cultural experiences.

International students also know they can expect a high standard of education and living conditions. A wide range of general and specialist courses are offered, and the quality of New Zealand qualifications is well recognised internationally.

I know that one of the reasons for establishing the IPC in New Zealand was the recognition that our education system challenges students to be resourceful and innovative.

On top of all that, living and tuition costs compare well with other countries.

For New Zealanders, there are very significant benefits of allowing foreign students access to our education system:

 Accelerated growth in foreign exchange earnings;
 High-quality job opportunities throughout New Zealand, including regional centres;
 A higher international profile for our education sector;
 Opportunities for developing international linkages including technology, knowledge, and students;
 An increase in the uptake of leading edge technologies within the New Zealand education sector; and
 The social benefits of increasing New Zealanders' contact with other cultures.

Of course, New Zealand has hosted international students for many years, but the large-scale promotion of education offshore is a relatively recent occurrence.

Significant progress has already been made towards a common international vision and plan for the sector. Education New Zealand Trust, which the International Pacific College is a part of, has been doing work with Trade NZ and Tourism NZ in this area.

I want to take that work to the next step.

This Government is committed to investing in the promotion of New Zealand’s tertiary education system as a quality education option for students from the region.

I believe passionately in 'export education' both as a means of earning foreign exchange revenue for New Zealand and as a way of strengthening our tertiary education provision – to the benefit of domestic students as well.

Export education is already our fourth biggest service sector exporter. But we can do better.

I want to see a coherent and consistent strategy for promoting New Zealand's education services as a nation, not as isolated individual operators.

And I want that strategy to include ensuring we have the capacity, including the support services, to make certain that every international student has a quality educational experience.

When I join you again to celebrate the College's 20th anniversary, I hope to be able to reflect on the fruits of that strategy in terms of 10 years of steady growth and success in export education, both for the College and for our tertiary education system as a whole.

Thank you, and once again congratulations

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