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NZ: 10-year strategy builds on Canterbury’s post-quake growth

International education providers in Canterbury, New Zealand have developed a 10-year strategy for growth that aims to increase incoming international student numbers by more than 150% as the region shows strong signs of recovery following the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes.

Cashel Street Mall in Christchurch, where shops have been built from shipping containers in the post-quake development. Photo: Alamy

The strategy aims to attract to 25,580 international students, bringing in NZ$134m in annual tuition, by 2025

As the second most popular destination in the country, Education New Zealand has said Canterbury’s growth is vital to the government’s aspirations to increase education exports.

“In the past different providers have actively competed in the same market, often causing a negative perception of the destination”

The strategy aims to build on the growth of the last couple of years by developing collaboration between the international education sector and government, in order work together to promote the region as a whole.

It also aims to forge international partnerships in key markets and pathways through school, higher education and employment.

“In the past different providers have actively competed in the same market, often causing a negative perception of the destination as a whole,” Hamish Cochrane deputy vice chancellor (academic) at the University of Canterbury, told The PIE News.

“Through co-operation, careful differentiation and market segmentation Christchurch will be seen as a destination with complementary educational opportunities.”

To this end, collaboration is identified as a key strategic issue, along with high growth and service delivery to provide a positive overall student experience.

Reputation is also highlighted as a strategic issue, as Canterbury strives to create awareness of opportunities in the region and shed safety fears.

“There are still some international markets that view Christchurch as earthquake prone and thus unsafe,” commented Cochrane. “The opposite is true in terms of building safety.”

“Similarly and particularly for younger students, Christchurch is not necessarily seen as a desirable location from a social activity point of view,” he added. “Again the opposite is true with a variety of social activities actively available, and ironically more restaurants/cafes/bars than we had pre-earthquakes.”

“It is important that we build on the industry cohesion and momentum gained during the post-earthquake period – the real work starts now”

Nine ‘foundation partners’ representing all education sectors signed a Leadership Accord on the strategy, which lays out its vision for Canterbury as “a globally connected region for international education” with education and training provision that “leads to enhanced student opportunities and outcomes with enduring benefits for the community”.

The accord promises to provide strong industry leadership in implementing the strategy and represents a commitment to grow the social, cultural and economic value of Canterbury’s international education.

“Canterbury’s growth is crucial for New Zealand to realise its national international education goals,” Clive Jones, general manager, business development at Education New Zealand, told The PIE News.

Canterbury receives 8% of all international students in New Zealand, making it the second most popular destination for international students after Auckland “despite several challenging years”, he said.

Though international student enrolments have not yet returned to their pre-earthquake levels, Canterbury was the fastest growing metro region in the country in 2014, up by 18% year-on-year.

Economic value added of international education to Canterbury

Economic value added of international education to Canterbury

There are currently 9,470 international students in Canterbury studying across all sectors, bringing in NZ$74m in tuition fees annually. The strategy aims to increase this to 25,580 students and NZ$134m in annual tuition by 2025.

Jones said the strategy will  play a “key role” in hitting the government’s target to double the value of the sector to NZ$6.2bn by 2025.

Because of this, ENZ has funnelled more than NZ$5m of dedicated funding to support Canterbury’s industry recovery, and has worked closely with education providers on strategy development over the last six to 12 months.

“It is important that we build on the industry cohesion and momentum gained during the post-earthquake period, which may be lost if there is no medium-term strategy to provide focus – the real work starts now,” commented Murray Strong, the Leadership Accord’s independent chairperson charged with overseeing the implementation of the strategy.

The nine foundation partners launching the Leadership Accord are:
Christchurch and Canterbury International Education Incorporated (Christchurch Educated)
Aoraki Polytechnic
Christchurch College of English
Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology
Canterbury Primary Principals’ Association
Canterbury West Coast Secondary Principals’ Association
Lincoln University
University of Canterbury
UC International College

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