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New Zealand’s HE strategy pushes for economic returns

Higher education institutions in New Zealand need to be more connected to the world through academic collaborations, cross-border education and business relationships in order to deliver long-term economic benefits the government has announced.

Last year international education was the country's fifth largest export valued at NZ$2.59 billion

To meet these goals, the minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Steven Joyce this week launched a five year Tertiary Education Strategy which outlines measures for tertiary education operators (TEOs) to be more “outward facing” and “engaged”.

TEOs can create “enduring economic, social and cultural benefits” in key and emerging markets

The government’s blueprint clearly targets improving economic outcomes of the sector and encourages strong links between educators and industry.

“This strategy focuses in particular on the economic benefits that result from tertiary education, and therefore on employment, higher incomes and better access to skill employee for business as critical outcomes of tertiary education,” it states.

TEOs are being encouraged to increase the economic value of onshore enrolments as well as offshore delivery by providing a “high quality education experience” for international students

And by focusing on “mutually beneficial education relationships with key partner countries”, TEOs can create “enduring economic, social and cultural benefits” in key and emerging markets.

The strategy also identifies the increased movement  of people and ideas between New Zealand’s TEOs and those of  institutions in “key trading partners in Asia” as an indicator of success over the next five years.

The strategy notes that the downward trend of international students since 2003 “has been arrested” and last year international education was the country’s fifth largest export valued at NZ$2.59 billion– nearly 70% coming from the tertiary education system.

The sector also accounts directly for 13,305 jobs and indirectly for up to 27,500.

However, Joyce added that “while we have made important progress, we cannot afford to sit back and congratulate ourselves on the results so far”.

“We must harness our momentum and ensure that the tertiary education system is contributing to better and more relevant outcomes for all,” he said.

In the Government’s Business Growth Agenda, it set the goal to increase the total value of international education to NZ$5 billion by 2025.

To support TEOs in their efforts the strategy says Education New Zealand, established as a Crown entity in 2011, will assist TEOs to “recruit international students and deliver education products and services offshore through authoritative information, advice and services”.

“While we have made important progress, we cannot afford to sit back and congratulate ourselves on the results so far”

Part of ENZ’s services include working with providers to organise fund-matching financing through International Education Growth Fund (IEGF) grants.

After the first round of funding in June 2013 delivered results for Wellington-based company Software Education and Kiwa Digital in Aukland, Joyce announced an additional NZ$465,000 boost for a dozen growth initiatives last month.

Recipients include Massey University which is developing a joint degree programme in China and a group of Auckland schools working together to pilot a recruitment programme in several South American countries.

The IGEF was opened up to private training establishments last year and to date has approved matched funding of more than NZ$1.4 million for 41 projects with a combined value, including the applicants’ contributions, of more than NZ$2.8 million.

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