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International education: the way forward

Hon Dr Michael Cullen
Minister for Tertiary Education

17 August 2006 Media Statement

International education: the way forward

New Zealand must do much better at attracting high calibre international students and researchers, Tertiary Education Minister Michael Cullen said today.

Dr Cullen outlined a new direction for the sector and additional promotional spending at the annual Education New Zealand International Education Conference in Auckland.

"We live in a world that is hungry for education. I firmly believe that New Zealand can meet some of that demand, and establish itself as a premier provider in a number of high value niches in the international education market.

"This is a $2 billion a year industry which provides important opportunities for educators here and offshore. The thousands of overseas students here enrich our communities and help raise the standards of our domestic students.

"We have a lot of offer – a world class facilities and teachers - but we can do better if we are to maximise the opportunities.

"International education is our fourth largest export industry. It has a vital role to play in fostering linkages into the world and helping us to lift our own education and research standards. Attracting the best is therefore a critical part of our economic transformation agenda.

"However, this requires a sophisticated and coordinated approach, based upon agreed goals," Dr Cullen said.

The four goals that will form the basis of the new agenda for international education are:

- New Zealand students will be equipped to thrive in an inter-connected world,

- Our education providers will be strengthened academically and financially through international links,

- International students will be enriched by their educational and living experiences in New Zealand,

- The direct economic and social benefits to New Zealand from international education activities must grow to their full potential.

"In achieving these objectives, both government and the education sector need to develop an expanded vision for the international links of our education system. The government will be an active participant in pursuing this new agenda,” Dr Cullen said.

"As part of that drive, we will be lifting our profile in key overseas markets. Today I am announcing that the government will re-allocate $1 million in Export Education Levy funds this and next financial year, towards supporting additional promotion and marketing activities.

"An extra $200,000 will also be provided this year from Vote Education to support more promotion and marketing work in India. I have also asked my officials to investigate proposals to expand the existing scholarship programmes.

The government will also:

- Undertake Ministerial missions in 2006/07 to North Asia (including China) and Northern Europe and in 2007/08 to South East Asia and the Middle East,

- Improve the effectiveness of quality assurance and pastoral care policies,

- Implement an effective international media and communications strategy and investigate other promotional and marketing ideas.

"Our desire to revitalise this sector complements our efforts to reform the tertiary funding framework. Ensuring greater quality and relevance across the sector will raise our profile and so improve our ability to attract the finest from overseas."



The growth of international education has been a major development both for New Zealand education and the wider economy over the past decade. About 90,000 students from 150 countries are currently studying here. The sector is estimated to have contributed $2 billion to New Zealand’s economy in 2005.

The government and the education sector are already active in developing international linkages, promotion and marketing campaigns, the new scholarship programmes, education diplomacy initiatives and work to improve quality assurance and pastoral care for international students. This financial year, the government will be spending $12.5 million on initiatives to aid the development of international education. This funding is in addition to the $3 million raised from the Export Education Levy paid by New Zealand education providers.


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