Speaking to TV One’s Q&A programme, Joyce said New Zealand will be able to rise in world university rankings and attract better researchers and academics if it follows in the footsteps of Australian universities.
“The Australians are pretty good at actually delivering offshore,” said Joyce. “Take Singapore for example, there’s a number of Australian universities that deliver in Singapore in partnership.”
“The benefit of our whole society and our economy is to have those international linkages”
Joyce claimed that overseas university expansion forms part of New Zealand’s broader internationalisation strategy: “The benefit of our whole society and our economy is to have those international linkages.”
“Broaden it out from tertiary education for a second. Over the next 40 years South East Asia is hugely important to us,” said Joyce. “If you go to Singapore all the Australian universities and research institutions are present in Singapore.”
He rebuffed claims that more government funding would assist in this strategy and using the example of the University of Auckland, said the “biggest gap” in its income was its lack of international income.
Auckland currently collects NZ$90m a year in international income comparable to Australian universities, which receive around NZ$300m and Joyce has confirmed that there is “no way” the government will “pony up for the other NZ$210 million a year.”
He added that with an estimated NZ$1bn a year turnover, Auckland can “do it themselves.”
Joyce was also keen to drive home the value of New Zealand’s international students to its economy: “We have to keep bringing in international students because that’s part of the modern university life.”
While Joyce was supportive of Massey University‘s Singapore campus as one of New Zealand’s few overseas success stories, Massey’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for its College of Creative Arts, Dr Claire Robinson has described Joyce’s strategy as “absolutely ludicrous.”
“We have to keep bringing in international students because that’s part of the modern university life”
“It’s a ‘catch-22’ situation,” said Robinson. “You need the high numbers and quality of international students to raise your international ranking but the international students are attracted to universities that have high international rankings.”
“So you get the situation where they’re actually saying to us: ‘Go out and attract international students so that the government doesn’t need to put money in,'” she added.
Robinson also commented that government funding for the University of Auckland, which has increased by 24% in the last five years, has taken away from the country’s smaller institutions, thus pushing international students away.
“They’re actually saying to us: ‘Go out and attract international students so that the government doesn’t need to put money in'”
Meanwhile the University of Auckland’s vice-chancellor Stuart McCutcheon said that in order to compete on the global stage New Zealand’s universities must keep their best students in the country and address quality first and cost second.
“I think that our young people should have the opportunity to go to universities of genuine international quality because today’s younger generation are very aware of the rankings of universities, very aware of the quality of the universities and what we don’t want are our best and brightest going overseas to study,” he said.