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Mallard: Indian Market for NZ Education

Development and Challenges in the Indian Market for New Zealand's Education Services

Speech to India New Zealand Business Council, HSBC House, Auckland

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It's a pleasure to be here talking to the India New Zealand Business Council and others interested in developing the relationships between our two countries.

New Zealand's trade relationship with India is wide and crosses a variety of sectors. But today I want to focus on education. In particular, I want to talk about the development and challenges in the Indian market for New Zealand education services.

The overall economic significance of India for New Zealand is increasing thanks to a combination of sustained high rates of growth in India and ongoing efforts to modernise India's infrastructure.

Education is a long-standing and increasingly important link between our two countries. We have similar education systems - and a common language - stemming from our common British colonial history.

India has been identified as a key market in our international education sector. While numbers are currently small, there is enormous potential for this to increase.

In 1998 the number of Indian students in New Zealand was 164. In the financial year just ended, there were over 3,000 approved applications for student visas and permits from Indian students. A 9 per cent increase over the previous year.

Part of this growth is due to the revised and improved student visa policy that was implemented last year, which I announced in India. That announcement generated so much interest that the Education New Zealand website was inundated and had to close temporarily.

Indian students make an ongoing contribution to New Zealand as many choose to stay on after their studies and help meet our talent and skills requirements. This trend is more marked from India than any other significant market.

Just recently the government has decided to invest an additional $200 000 on a second marketing campaign in India promoting NZ as a destination of choice for tertiary education. We believe this will further strengthen our educational ties with India.

As a business, the Indian education market is currently estimated to be worth more than $60 million a year to New Zealand, compared to $19.5 million five years ago.

It is ranked fourth in our top 20 source markets whereas five years ago it did not make the list. This reflects the efforts of our educational institutions and the commitment of the government to developing this sector.

From the other direction - New Zealand to India - there is also increasing interest in India from New Zealand tertiary providers. A recent Ministry of Education report showed these providers ranked India their second most important partner country after China.

Although it is early days, more institutions are looking at new models for offshore delivery or twinning. The Universal College Of Learning led the way in 2004 by introducing an approved degree programme in India with the Canadian Institute of International Studies.

Earlier this year the Auckland University of Technology signed a memorandum of understanding with the Institute of Finance and International Management in Bangalore to deliver the university's Master of Business Administration programme in India.

Last year Victoria University of Wellington signed agreements on staff and student exchanges and scientific and educational cooperation with one of the Indian Institutes of Management in Kerala.

More institutions are looking at these models either as a means of staircasing students into advanced studies in New Zealand, or simply to take advantage of commercial opportunities in India.

In the past two years I have led two education missions to India taking with me representatives from the Ministry of Education, tertiary institutions and Education New Zealand.

In 2005 I signed the Education Cooperation Arrangement with India, and during this year's mission I announced we would appoint an Education Counsellor in New Delhi. This is one of a network of seven education counsellors across the world, and the appointee should be in place by the end of this year. The education relationship with India is at a stage where a counsellor in New Delhi will produce real results.

A handpicked group of 14 agents, which formed the New Zealand International Education Representatives Group, was also launched in New Delhi in May during my visit. These agents are a key delivery channel for student recruitment.

This group has full support from Education New Zealand, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, Immigration New Zealand and of course our education institutions.

The group has been a major success and provide us with a Brains Trust in India to talk strategy with. It means that our key representatives in the market are encouraged, recognised and thus more committed.

There are a number of challenges for New Zealand in the further development of this opportunity in India. Improved trade commitments, including in the WTO services context, could open up further opportunities for NZ education exports.

At the same time, there is much debate in India on the role of foreign education providers. The Indian government is currently working on a Bill which will regulate the entry and operation of Foreign Education Providers in India. The Bill is not yet public - but we are very interested in its shape.

With around 500 million of the Indian population under 25 years of age, I hope there will be a chance for New Zealand to participate in the education arena in India - this would be a win-win situation for both countries.

Exports of education services make an important contribution to our overall export performance and are critical for the success of initiatives such as Export Year 2007. Export Year 2007 aims to improve New Zealand's long-term export performance and to provide a platform for continuing to transform New Zealand into an export-led, innovative and high wage economy.

The export education sector is worth around $2 billion to the New Zealand economy with potential for growth. In India, word of mouth is an extremely important way of promoting our educational services.

I look forward to ongoing support from you all in spreading the word about our world-class education system. This will help to build stronger institutional relationships and collaboration across our education, research, science and technology sectors.

Indian students and their parents have a strong appreciation for the value of a good education. And we hope that the education and experiences that Indian students have gained in New Zealand will enable them to make valuable contributions to India's continuing social and economic development.


ENDS

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