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Address to Festival of Education, Export Education Symposium

Hon Steven Joyce
Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills & Employment

21 March 2014

Address to Festival of Education, Export Education Symposium, Auckland

It is my pleasure to be here this afternoon and can I say how pleased I am to see international education on the agenda.

Over the last few years as Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment I’ve been privileged to travel overseas promoting New Zealand as a study destination, and helping to establishing links between New Zealand and overseas institutions.

This morning I came back from a visit to Indonesia and Vietnam. Both countries represent great opportunities for New Zealand. Indonesia has a very young population of 250 million people, while Vietnam has a population of approximately 90 million, around half of whom are under the age of 25. They are very keen to work more with quality English language education providers like New Zealand.

As with all my trips overseas, I met students in those countries who are passionate about studying overseas, including in New Zealand. I also met New Zealand alumni - students who have experienced a study experience in New Zealand.

Almost every single person I have met who has studied in New Zealand comes away with a positive impression about New Zealand students, our quality of education, and our way of life. There is an on-going positive impact for both the students and our country.

International students studying in New Zealand bridge language and cultural divides in a unique way.

New Zealand alumni are not only bilingual, they are also acutely aware of the way New Zealanders work. They can see and create connections within their home countries, and are a resource underutilised by Kiwi businesses.

I met one such young man in China last year – who in fact featured in Education New Zealand’s documentary on Chinese students Dragons in a Distant Land. Ning Huang came to New Zealand to complete his PhD in architecture at Auckland University.

After finishing his studies he went back to Beijing and started a sustainable architecture business. Now his Board includes his PhD supervisor, while amongst his employees are fellow University of Auckland graduates.

Dr Huang says his heart is in both China and New Zealand.

International education also hugely benefits students in New Zealand. By studying alongside their peers from different parts of the world New Zealanders forge international linkages helping them to develop the skills to work, study and do business in our increasingly globalised and interconnected world.


International Education and New Zealand

For those here today who deliver education services to international students here or abroad, I see what you do as a vital part of the Government’s Business Growth Agenda, and as an area of great opportunity for New Zealand and New Zealanders.

The Business Growth Agenda is the Government’s comprehensive programme to really take this country forward and deliver the higher incomes and more jobs that kiwi families deserve.

It consists of around 350 initiatives across the six key inputs that business needs to grow and add jobs – access to capital markets and infrastructure, growing export markets, innovation, skilled and safe workplaces, and natural resources.

International education is an important part of the Export Markets stream of work.

International education makes a significant contribution to the New Zealand economy – $2.6 billion dollars annually - and supports around 28,000 jobs.

The majority of that value is from the teaching of international students in New Zealand – $2.5 billion – and the sale and delivery of New Zealand’s education services and products offshore is $104 million.

Auckland is a hugely significant part of New Zealand’s international education industry.

The 60,000 students Auckland hosts each year generates over $1.65 billion dollars for our economy. It supports more than 15,500 jobs, making up an important 63 per cent of the total economic contribution of international education to New Zealand.

However, these figures tell only a small part of a much bigger story.

Ultimately, international education is part of our drive to be better connected across the world. We are a small trading nation, and we need very strong links with the world. International education provides New Zealand with lifelong ambassadors, as graduates returning to their home countries share their good experiences with friends, family and colleague.

International education helps enhance our teaching and research, the sharing of knowledge, and the building of human capital.

Government initiatives to support the sector
The Government’s efforts to promote New Zealand as an education destination have significantly increased since we established Education New Zealand 2011.

Over the period since, we have trebled the Government’s investment in the marketing of international education. In Budget 2011 we allocated $10 million a year to the sector in marketing and promoting the industry. Then in Budget 2013 we invested an additional $10 million a year over the next four years as part of the Internationally Focused Growth Package.

Some of you here will also have heard of the “NZ Story”. The New Zealand Story profiles our innovation, our warmth and friendliness, and our place in the world with the “Open places, open hearts and open minds” theme. It is a toolkit designed to be used by those promoting New Zealand around the world.

We’ve also developed a New Zealand Education story, which builds on these attributes with a specific focus on international education. It highlights what makes us different to other countries, and illustrates what students can aspire to become when they study in New Zealand.

The video and other resources are available to education providers to promote their own stories offshore. The uptake has been excellent and the feedback really positive. So far The Brand Lab has been viewed by over 7,000 people across 60 different countries and there are 1000 registered users. And the numbers continue to grow each day.

In October last year, my colleague Michael Woodhouse and I announced a series of policy and legislative changes to attract more international students to New Zealand. Let me quickly talk about them.

First, we’re making it easier for some international students to work during their studies here. International students in English language courses have easier access to the labour market, PhD students now have full time work rights, and full-time students can now study during all scheduled vacations.

These changes will bring New Zealand in line with policies of similar countries, especially Australia, and make it easier for students to choose to study here.

The second change is around visa processing. We’re trialling an industry partnership initiative with New Zealand universities and a small group of polytechnics and private training providers. Providers that are part of the initiative are able to offer streamlined and prioritised visa processing, and in return will be accountable for the immigration outcomes of their international students.

The third major change is around pastoral care, which I see is on the agenda this morning.

We often talk about “numbers” and “value” when we are talking about international education, but I think it’s important to always remember that these figures represent individual decisions and choices made by students and their families.

They are the outcomes of decisions that put faith in New Zealand as the provider of quality education; and as the provider of a safe and welcoming experience.

The Education Amendment Bill (Number 2) recently introduced by Minister Parata and myself includes legislative amendments designed to enhance the protections afforded international students in New Zealand, by establishing a new legal framework for enforcing the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students.

Prime Minister’s Scholarships for Asia
Another initiative I’m really proud of is the Prime Minister’s Scholarships for Asia programme. New Zealand’s economic future is very tied in with our key trading partners in Asia. We need more young Kiwis who have had the experience of spending some time studying in Asia, and can help strengthen our people-to-people links with those countries.

The scholarships are available for students studying subjects related to New Zealand’s economic or trade future such as business, law, food technology, design and languages. Students can study in any ASEAN country as well as China, Japan, Korea, India and the Middle East.

In December last year I announced the first 89 recipients of the scholarships and the next round of the scholarships is now open.

Collaboration
The four themes for this Festival – collaboration, innovation, cohesion and celebration – resonate well with the development needed to make the most of the big opportunities for us all in international education.

The OECD and UN forecast the number of students looking for an international education will grow from 4 million to over 7 million by 2025.

So our Business Growth Agenda goal of doubling the total value of New Zealand’s international education sector to $5 billion by 2025 is eminently achievable.

But we are not going to be able to take advantage of these opportunities without working cohesively and in collaboration – as a country, between regions, between institutions and between types of institutions.

The Regional Partnership Programme that Education New Zealand is running is a great example of such collaboration. Local councils, central government and industry are working together to support the growth of international education.

They are collaborating, sharing knowledge, sharing resources and sharing best practice to increase the co-ordination, capability and effectiveness of their international education activities.

There are successful regional partnerships in Auckland, Tauranga, Waikato, Manawatu, Hawkes Bay, Wellington, Nelson and Otago.

Thinking creatively and being prepared to create new, innovative education products and services to meet demand are essential.

The Government is also investing directly in innovative industry activity. This year we invested $465,000 in twelve projects through the International Education Growth Fund.

Successful recipients have included Massey University, who are developing a new joint degree programme in China, and a group of Auckland schools working together to pilot a recruitment programme in several South American countries.

A new round of funding is currently open for applications.

Education New Zealand Sector Roadmaps
When I think about New Zealand’s opportunities offshore, I’m reminded of a story – a true one – when China wanted its army to learn rugby.

New Zealand was approached about providing coaching expertise. “Sure,” we said. “How many coaches would you like?”

“Oh, about 7,000 to start with,” was the response.

Looking at the massive increase in development desired by Asia, clearly we’re going to have to work together to capture our slice of the pie, and there is an important process underway at the moment to advance the generation of ideas on how to go about doing just that.

Education New Zealand is facilitating a programme of work led by sector representativesfor the international education sector to scope what future success will look like and the steps needed to get there.

Called ‘Roadmaps’, these strategic documents are being developed for each type of education provider – from schools to private training establishments – as well as an overarching roadmap encompassing all provider types.

Greater collaboration, cohesion and innovation are a focus for Government too.

I have, for example, asked ENZ to work more closely with Tourism New Zealand in 2014 to ensure the potential behind New Zealand’s joint education-tourism offering is fully realised.

Celebrating International Education
Before I leave you to discuss your international education strategies in more depth, I would like to touch on the final theme: celebration.

I am hugely optimistic about the potential for New Zealand’s international education industry. When the latest data was released for January to August 2013, first-time student visas were up six per cent and there were encouraging signs of growth from Christchurch, from universities and institutes of technology and polytechnics, and from secondary schools.

Despite stiff competition, we are capturing our share of the international market and I’m confident we’ll continue to grow it.

This year also marks the 25th anniversary of an important step in the development of international education in New Zealand.

The passing of the Education Act in 1989 signified a change in emphasis from “education for aid” to “education for trade”, and since then international student enrolments have grown significantly.

I want to acknowledge and celebrate the significant contribution international education has made to New Zealand over those years.

It has created jobs, funded the development of new facilities, and boosted local economies.

As I have said before, I believe these international linkages are essential to New Zealand’s future prosperity.

As a country we need to understand how to communicate with and work alongside other cultures, appreciate and value difference, and equip our students with the skills to succeed in a world that is, and will continue to be, vastly different to the one we grew up in.

That involves more New Zealanders studying overseas, as well as more coming in.

Thank you all for your efforts to date.

I’m looking forward to seeing what you’ve got planned next.

ENDS

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