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International education in disarray

Pansy Wong MP
National Party Associate Education Spokeswoman
(International Education)

27 September 2006

International education in disarray

The Government has dropped the ball on international education, says National Party Associate Education spokeswoman, Pansy Wong.

She is commenting on a report on English language schools that shows tuition income has plummeted from $258 million in 2003 to $112 million in 2006.

“And, as if the drop of revenue from international students was not bad enough, we now know that 5% of Auckland University’s Business and Economic staff will be cut next year as a direct result of this Government dropping the ball.

“Even staff in international education at Canterbury University are affected.

“The Government’s solution to reverse the falling number of international students is to pour more money into bureaucracy by putting $15.3 million over five years into seven ‘education counsellors’ stationed overseas.

“In answers to written questions, Tertiary Education Minister Michael Cullen has said that it’s too early to comment on the performance of the counsellors.

“Meanwhile, he has trumpeted his ‘re-allocation’ of funding worth $1 million for further promotion. But these funds are unspent money from the Export Education Levy and have come at the expense of research and professional development.

“The Government’s lack of understanding and lack of attention to the sector has seen international students turn away in droves and revenue plummet. And our competitors are benefiting because they understand that strong policy, as well as strong promotion, is important.

“New Zealand needs to streamline visa processing, improve immigration policies and work opportunities, offer internationally recognised qualifications, and ensure safety and pastoral care for students to make New Zealand an attractive study destination.

“Pouring millions into bureaucrats will do nothing to reverse the sector’s fortunes.”

ENDS

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