NZ international education plan includes keeping locals happy

There’s a draft strategy through to 2030

The first thing it proposes is to “build back on-shore offerings” but it’s what is planned to happen next that is significant.

The medium term intent is to diversify and become “less reliant on on-shore education delivery.”

Diversifying means “a greater proportion” of international students who are not from China and India. And less reliance on on-shore means on-line and overseas. “Prior to Covid-19, providers had shown interest in on-line and offshore provision, and with borders closed and providers shifting to on-line delivery, they became more attractive and proved their potential. As the sector recovers, we will consider how on-line and offshore provision can form part of base offerings.”

As to what the industry will look like , “we do not yet know what an optimal base of on-shore and offshore offerings is that will best support sustainability. These are things we will discover while we are building that base. At that point, we will also have a better idea of what the trajectories look like as we build the future for international education and what targets will be realistic and useful.”

But whatever the industry’s shape and size it must be “sustainable, ” which could be code for electorally saleable.

“Thriving and sustainable international education needs the support and buy-in of New Zealanders. Helping New Zealanders to understand international education as a high-value activity that brings social, cultural and economic benefits for all New Zealand will help to sustain growth and development. We will look for opportunities to promote the value of international education domestically.”

Last week Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced student visa applications will open in August but added the intent is “to attract students to New Zealand to learn, while also shutting the backdoor route to residency,” (CMM May 12).