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Downgrading Indian market begs the question

Over the past two years, New Zealand has been experiencing the worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

We rely heavily in high performing areas in which the Government can create growth and restore prosperity to the economy.

One of the star export performers is the Export Education, which currently contributes annually $2.3 billion to our economy.

In common parlance, Export Education denotes international students studying in New Zealand. There are four primary players in this sector, namely Schools, Private Training Establishments (PTEs), Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs) and Universities.

Together they contribute towards bringing in Export Education revenues.

We have a limited number of Universities and Polytechnics. However, we have no restrictions on the number of PTEs offering qualifications and courses to international students.

India holds lot of promise for growth as New Zealand is a popular destination for education. In recent years, we have seen the decrease in marketing activities in India by Education NZ (which is currently not a Crown entity).

In fact, we have not had Education Fairs organised in India over the past few years. You would think that a country that shows so much promise would have greater emphasis of branding Export Education, especially when we have to compete with UK, Canada, USA and Australia to attract students from India.

India downgraded

While there is much hype about a possible Free Trade Agreement signed between New Zealand and India as early as next year, India has been downgraded to ‘Tier Two’ by Education New Zealand.

I asked them why, and their reply was startling.

They said, “India was not a priority market that required support from PACE (Point Accumulation Event) Fairs.”

PACE is the flagship of Education New Zealand.

At the last Education New Zealand fair held in India, some PTEs were the key culprits in Waka Jumping and soliciting students through unethical practices.

This caused a stir, rightfully so as the emphasis of the Fairs was to showcase high quality providers marketing Export Education.

As a PTE owner, I too shared these concerns, but with ‘low criteria’ in place, such providers were able to get on to the bandwagon.

Since the same criteria are still used for participation in all other countries, why are Fairs not held in India anymore?

Right strategy

I strongly urge Education New Zealand (when it becomes a Crown Entity) to revise the participation criteria and recommence marketing efforts in India, if we are serious about promoting Export Education as a durable sector and if we are keen to establish New Zealand as a popular international student destination.

PACE Fairs encourage collaboration, and hence must encourage and facilitate quality export providers collectively in New Zealand to market their courses and programmes in India.

In order to bring back universities and polytechnic to the Fairs in India, it is imperative to put in place stringent criteria for participating PTEs.

The New Zealand Government recognises the impact that Export Education has on the economy and hence supports this initiative by increasing funding for international promotion by $10 million a year, from $3.45 million to $13.45 million. The Government is also investing $17.5 million over four years to create new places for Refugees and migrants to learn English in New Zealand.

The New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) recently published Incentives and Sanctions for PTE that go through the External Evaluation Review Process (EER), ranking them from ‘Highly Confident’ to ‘Not Confident.’

Based on this NZQA model, only Category 1 providers should be able to market their courses and programmes at these Fairs and be given priority for visa processing.

Feroz Ali is Chief Executive of the New Zealand Career College (NZCC), which has four campuses in Central Auckland, Manukau, North Shore and Waitakere. Email: feroz.ali@nzcc.ac.nz

New Zealand Career College is the Sponsor of the Business Excellence in Export to India Category of the Indian Newslink Indian Business Awards 2011.

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