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Expanding cooperation in international education

Expanding cooperation in international education

Trevor Mallard Speech to the Association of Pacific Rim Universities

Good morning everyone.

Thank you for the invitation to be here today. I am very pleased to speak to this gathering of representatives from the Association of Pacific Rim Universities.

The New Zealand government shares your objectives of fostering education, research and enterprise, and of expanding cooperation among Pacific Rim economies.

In the past New Zealand has tended to focus more strongly on its traditional relationships with Europe and North America.

Now, in recognition of our role as a Pacific Rim economy, we want to strengthen our relationship with our nearer neighbours in Asia and the Pacific.

Fittingly our government’s education policy is galvanising this focus on the Asia Pacific region as we increasingly work with our close neighbours on the internationalisation of our education system.

It's good to see that this second senior staff meeting of the Association of Pacific Rim Universities is being held here in Auckland.

International nature of education

Education is increasingly international in character.

The use of information communications technologies (ICT), employment markets working across national borders, and geographically mobile students, teaching staff and researchers, all mean international cooperation and collaboration in education is more common place.

The number of students involved in higher education studying outside their own country is estimated to grow from the current 2.5 million to seven million by the year 2025.

Growing numbers of students are accessing programmes in their own countries supplied by foreign providers or consortia. This trend is also expected to increase.

The increasing ease with which international scientific, educational and cultural collaboration is taking place is facilitating economic, social and cultural advancement and greatly improving mutual understanding across borders.

I am sure your discussions over your three days of meetings will contribute to the growth of understanding between the Asia Pacific countries represented here by top quality universities.

New Zealand’s strategic approach

Working with our education providers the New Zealand government has adopted a long-term strategic approach to international education.

This approach will strengthen the quality of education for our own as well as for international students.

We want to improve the relevance of a New Zealand education for all these students so they have the knowledge and qualifications to participate fully in the global world.

Tertiary Education Strategy 2002/07

The internationalisation of higher education in New Zealand is integral in the goals of our Tertiary Education Strategy 2002/07.

Key changes we want to see happening at the tertiary level are more future focused strategies and improved global connectedness and mobility.

International Education Framework

Our international education framework contributes to these goals by: improving the quality of education provision increasing the diversity of international education activities increasing the skill component of international education – as this will increase the contribution to overall education, social and economic development, and developing international education partnerships – as these will sustain our long-term relationships with key regions and international organisations. Strengthening public support for international education is also important. Our strong focus on student outcomes will benefit our own students and those coming here from overseas or those who continue to study in their own country through a New Zealand provider.

The education sector here must develop and benefit as a result.

International education has obvious social, cultural and economic benefits for New Zealand as a whole and our job is to ensure these are fully realised.

Our strategic approach to international education was given immediate traction through last year’s $40 million international education Budget package.

This four-year funding package maximises the sustainability and benefits of international education specifically through: education diplomacy – funding for offshore education counsellors and increased onshore support here in New Zealand building quality by funding scholarships at both postgraduate and undergraduate level to attract top international students to New Zealand developing worldwide study links through a study abroad programme for New Zealanders to study overseas an innovation fund for international education, and promoting and marketing just what New Zealand has to offer in international education.

While all these initiatives will impact to some extent on the internationalisation of education and research, the education diplomacy and study abroad programme will be invaluable.

Through education diplomacy we can achieve stronger education relationships between New Zealand and other governments and education agencies overseas.

We can also improve international understanding of New Zealand as a centre of education excellence and of the range and quality of qualifications we have to offer.

This will help strengthen our overseas reputation for providing high quality education.

Our first counsellor has been based in Beijing since July 2004. A second will be appointed to Washington in July this year and a third will be located in Brussels.

Consideration of how we can further develop education diplomacy in the important Asia Pacific region is underway.

Budget 2004 provided funding for up to 200 scholarships to attract top international students to New Zealand, up to 100 each at postgraduate and undergraduate level.

Funding for up to 100 tertiary study abroad programmes for New Zealanders to study overseas was also included.

Our scholarship programme is attracting top international students here and increasing the reputation and profile of New Zealand’s tertiary education sector overseas. Ultimately the research capability, skills and output of New Zealand tertiary providers will increase as will our valuable partnerships in key overseas regions. At the end of last year the New Zealand International Postgraduate Research Scholarships were announced.

The first round was open to students from China, Korea, ASEAN countries, Chile, Mexico and Brazil. We received 360 applications from students in 15 eligible countries, and 20 scholarships were awarded for study starting this year.

In 2006, Japan, Europe, North America and the Middle East will be added to the countries whose students are eligible to apply. Full global coverage will be achieved in 2007.

The Study Abroad Awards will be implemented later this year, and the Undergraduate Scholarships in place for study from 2006.

The future

With our strategic approach to international education in place it is time to start constructing our future.

Just where do want to be in 10 years time?

In 10 years time my vision for New Zealand is as a world-class study destination.

In 10 years time I see New Zealand universities as top quality research universities where the best students in the world choose to come and study.

This vision requires committed, ongoing work by the government, by the sector as a whole and by individual institutions. By building on where we are at now, this goal is achievable.

I trust your meeting here has been valuable.

Meetings like this create the opportunity to network and share ideas on future directions, and to build on and strengthen current relationships.

Thank you.

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