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Qualifications deal to boost NZ-South Korea mobility

A new qualifications recognition agreement signed by education officials of New Zealand and South Korea could “open up a world of study opportunities” for young people in the two countries, New Zealand’s education secretary has said.

Dr Karen Poutasi, NZQA chief executive; Iona Holsted, New Zealand's education secretary; Kim Young Gon, director general international cooperation, ROK Ministry of Education. Photo: NZQA.

“The joint statement will provide access to further study that has traditionally been difficult to access”

The recognition statement paves the way for students to transition directly from high school in South Korea to higher education programmes in New Zealand and vice versa, without having to take a high school or foundation programme in the destination country.

“There is significant potential to increase student numbers”

The statement, which allows higher education providers to determine appropriate entry requirements for students from either country, follows the publication of a joint research report, Comparison of Senior Secondary School Qualifications.

The report concluded the Korean High School Certificate and the New Zealand National Certificate of Educational Achievement Level 3 were “broadly comparable”, after finding a number of commonalities between mathematics and science subjects in both countries.

“The signing of the statement means we can now undertake further bilateral work that has the potential to open up a world of study opportunities for young people here and in the Republic of Korea,” said New Zealand’s secretary for education, Iona Holsted.

“The joint statement is a step towards our students being able to have previous qualifications more easily recognised abroad and will provide access to further study that has traditionally been difficult to access.”

Educators were also optimistic that the agreement will help to facilitate greater mobility between the countries.

Chris Whelan, executive director of Universities New Zealand, said it has the “potential to encourage more students from South Korea to study at a New Zealand university… [and] enable more New Zealand students to gain overseas study or work experience”.

“Currently South Korean students make up around 3% of international students studying at a New Zealand university. So there is significant potential to increase student numbers,” Whelan said.

Brett Berquist, director international at The University of Auckland, also saw the opportunity for his university.

“South Korea is currently [UA’s] fifth largest source country for international students and traditionally, Korea has been an undergraduate market for the University,” he told The PIE News.

“We expect to see growth from South Korea at the undergraduate level and in our coursework masters.”

While formal recognition statements between countries are becoming more common, this is the first of its kind for South Korea.

The New Zealand Qualifications Authority aims to have recognition arrangements with at least 50 countries by 2020.

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