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Building On Our Strengths - Steve Maharey

Hon Steve Maharey Speech Notes

Building On Our Strengths:

Investing In New Zealand's Capacity For Export Education

Remarks at a meeting of the Education New Zealand Trust. Dalmuir House, Wellington.


I would like to begin by acknowledging all the work that has gone into the Government-funded marketing initiative. In particular I'd like to pay tribute to the efforts of the Education New Zealand Trust itself in this regard, including Russell Marshall's work travelling the world as Chair.

I'd also like to note the energy that Jim Sutton as Minister for Trade Negotiations and Phil Goff as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade have put into the cause of export education. Trevor Mallard has also taken an active interest in the issue as overall Minister of Education and in particular in relation to his responsibility for schools.

Today, however, I would like to focus on issues and initiatives in non-marketing aspects of the industry.

Potential and risks

I am pleased by the growth of the industry and want to see it grow further. Already the contribution of export education to the economy has climbed from around $500 million a year in the late 90’s to an estimated $700 million today.

The industry’s target of a $1 billion contribution to GDP is achievable within 3-4 years.

However, there is a need to ask:

- what is the nature of the vision we have for this industry beyond the foreign exchange?

- what are the practical and desirable limits to growth?

- how can we get greater value from that growth?

Although our numbers are far behind our competitors’, we have a bigger proportion of international students relative to our domestic roll than the US, the biggest player in this industry.

As in tourism, we have a choice. We can take a mass approach -- stretching our capacity and potentially damaging the features for which we are sought out. Or we can take an approach pitched at providing quality, and gaining a range of economic, educational, cultural, developmental and strategic benefits.

I’m clear that we want to focus on the latter.

This means:

- Appropriate investment in and management of our services and facilities;

- Measures to ensure consistently high quality of educational and supporting services;

- Excellent pastoral care and a community and physical environment in which students are safe and happy

- An innovative approach to building the industry.

We also need to ensure that:

- domestic students’ interests are protected and enhanced;

- Crown interests and investments are not put at risk; and

- there is synergy between export education objectives and other social and economic priorities.

We want export education to help underpin the growth of a knowledge-based economy, balanced development across our regions and population groups, and the strategic positioning of New Zealand internationally.

In the education system itself, development of the industry needs to be in harmony with the Government’s agenda with regard to strengthening the capabilities of institutions at both secondary and tertiary levels.

While there are enormously exciting opportunities with export education, there are also significant risks. The strategy I want to talk about addresses both the potential and the risks.

The Initiatives

I am pleased to tell you than in the coming Budget Government will be funding the implementation of new initiatives costed at $1.3 million in 2001/02.

These can be broadly grouped into:

- Institutional and professional development;

- Quality monitoring and improvement, and underpinning research;

- Information dissemination and issues of recognition; and

- Strategy management and development.

We will be spending $667,000 in 2001/02 on institutional and professional development initiatives, which include:

- Assisting boards of trustees, councils and other governing bodies on issues of policy and institutional strategy relating to participation in international student education;

- Programme management training opportunities, resource materials and advice for principals and programme directors; and

- Development opportunities for staff across the sector - in areas which could be as varied as cross-cultural communication, ESOL, managing inquiry systems, application of the curriculum for international students, enhancement of understanding of other education systems and of alternative teaching and learning styles.

$228,000 will go towards quality monitoring and improvement, including underpinning research and evaluation. A pastoral care code is in process and the development costs of this are covered by the existing Vote allocation. The new money will go to initiatives including:

- ESOL guidelines and standards development for institutions;

- Student homestay provision/quality improvement research;

- Quality indicators development;

- Monitoring and reporting of international student achievement and subject choice;

- Monitoring and reporting of international student satisfaction;

- Measures to encourage international education research; and

- The review and promotion of internationalisation of programmes and systems in education institutions.

$210,000 will be used for initiatives to promote recognition offshore through information generation and dissemination, and through greater dialogue with ministries and authorities offshore. These include:

- Producing information for dissemination overseas on the NZ education and qualifications systems;

- Seeking to extend arrangements for resolving recognition and quality assurance issues offshore;

- Supporting linkage and relationship building to promote understanding and recognition of our system and to underpin marketing efforts; and

- Mechanisms to generate international education information and resource materials and disseminate them within New Zealand

Strategy management and development initiatives will be given $195,000. This will cover:

- Mechanisms for ongoing intra-government sector coordination;

- Improved liaison by government with education providers on international student policies and issues;

- Further policy and guidelines development in areas affecting the development of the industry; and

- On-going strategy development and management.

In the interests of efficiency and coherence, implementation of initiatives is being linked to other, existing or planned developments where possible, both within the ambit of the Ministry’s work and in relation to the work of other organisations.

This includes the Government's general efforts to improve coordination among institutions, and strengthen their management and planning capability. It also includes the work we will be doing around e-learning and the contribution it can make to further developing export education.

It also means working closely with the New Zealand Qualifications Authority to ensure information dissemination and qualification recognition issues offshore are better addressed, and with Industry NZ to tap into their business education expertise and development objectives in the regions. Trade NZ, NZIS, and of course Education NZ itself are among other key agencies.

I also appreciate that different institutions and groups of institutions are at very different stages of development, and have different needs. The initiatives talked about will be applied flexibly to reflect this - there is no intention of teaching anyone how to “suck eggs.”

In the tertiary area, for example, there are a number of ways professional development assistance could be applied, and a range of development topics that can be addressed.

Sustaining the investment

The Government is funding the initial launch of these initiatives.

However it expects the sector to provide funding for both marketing and non-marketing activities subsequently.

This is appropriate in recognition of the primary benefit that accrues to the institutions participating.

Government’s preference is for the sector to determine how that contribution will be made. However, the sector will have to reach agreement on a mechanism in a reasonable timeframe, as funding from the sector will be needed from 2002 onward.

Officials will engage with the sector around this issue a little later this year. We would want to do that in the first instance through Education NZ, as the peak body for the sector.

Full details of the initiatives I have outlined today will be released in late June.


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