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What New Zealand has to offer international students is opportunity

John Laxon, Education New Zealand Regional Director, South, South East Asia and Middle East, spoke to BrainGain Magazine about Education New Zealand's new initiatives and about the increasing number of international students.
BY Skendha Singh |   29-08-2018

John Laxon John Laxon, Education New Zealand Regional Director,
(South, South East Asia and Middle East)

New Zealand is fast-emerging as the international study destination of choice. Recognised by the Economic Intelligence Unit for the quality of its education, and by the Global Peace Index for the safety it provides, New Zealand is also known for its friendly people and vivid landscapes.

What is driving the upward trend in student numbers? How is New Zealand building its relationship with India? And what lies in store for prospective students and immigrants?  BrainGain Magazine talked to John Laxon, (Education New Zealand Regional Director, South, South East Asia and Middle East), about all this and more. Edited excerpts from the conversation are below:

  1. What would you like to say to students who are considering studying abroad.

    Well, first of all, I really just congratulate and endorse them on considering an international education experience. I myself had one when I was going through university. And it’s just a fantastic experience. It’s definitely worth the investment, both in terms of your academic CV and your future prospects. So, well-done on considering an international education.

    Now, more than ever, an international education experience is a must-have if you want to turbocharge your career.

    There are a couple of reasons for that: one is that our industries and our careers and our jobs are becoming more globalized. We’re being asked to work across more customer markets and more jurisdictions. That’s where an international education really pays dividends. In 5 or 10 years’ time, you can say, “I’ve worked across cultures. I’ve learnt in another education system. I’ve learnt different ways of thinking. But more importantly, I’ve been a citizen of the world. I’ve been in another country. I understand how to connect with people wherever they might be. I’ve also learnt new ways of thinking that can add value to my employers in the future.”

    What New Zealand has, that other destinations don’t, is opportunity. New Zealand is a very dynamic and a closely-connected country as well. That means our students and graduates get career opportunities that would take many more years in countries like the US, UK or Canada.

     
  2. Please tell us about the New Zealand – India Academic Conclave.

    We had 14 of our New Zealand academics here being welcomed by the High Commissioner, and also the Minister for Human Resource Development and New Delhi’s Minister of Education.

    Our academics are working alongside prestigious Indian IITs and universities on global challenges that are affecting both India and New Zealand. So, they’re currently in workshops on topics such as smart cities, big data and artificial intelligence. And also [working towards] developing business and economic ecosystems in both countries. We’re very excited by the partnerships that are being forged today – the academic partnerships [as well as] the potential for us to grow the India - New Zealand relationship.

     
  3. What is the Guest Lecture series?

    Our New Zealand Guest Lecturer Series is an initiative that takes our visiting New Zealand academics across 21 partner IITs and universities across India, delivering 44 lectures during this week. And really what that is designed to do is give Indian students at prestigious institutions a taste of what a New Zealand education experience is like. They are giving lectures on a whole range of topics, but more importantly, showcasing New Zealand education as well as building relationships with our valued Indian partner institutions.

     
  4. This is the 3rd edition of the New Zealand Excellence Awards. Please tell us more about them.

    Yes, we have 34 partial scholarships – very exclusive. As a dedicated scholarship program, they are supported by the New Zealand government through Education New Zealand, and all of our New Zealand universities, specifically for Indian students.

    [The Awards] are a partial scholarship to study at any one of our universities in the approved programs. They are open until the 28th of October this year. We encourage anyone thinking of an international education to consider applying for a New Zealand Excellence Award because they are very prestigious, and they provide recognition within the New Zealand University system. [Also], they are dedicated to Indian students. Students should visit www.studyinnewzealand.govt.nz to find out more.

     
  5. How does New Zealand see international students and immigrants?

    New Zealand welcomes more than 120,000 students every year. We are one of the leading destinations for international education for a range of reasons. But the few that I’ll touch on today are: firstly, New Zealand has been ranked as the best education system in the world in future proofing students for a global career by the Economist Intelligence Unit (*). And what that reflects is that New Zealand’s education system is specifically designed for international students to make industry and career connections that they can use beyond their course of study.

    Secondly, this month the New Zealand government has introduced a new open post-study work visa for all international students undertaking bachelors, masters and PhD programs. That means New Zealand is one of the most generous countries in the world for post-study work opportunities. This is the New Zealand government’s way of saying we value the contribution that international students can make.

    The other two reasons I’ll touch on are: all our universities are ranked in the top 3% globally by QS World University Rankings. It doesn’t matter where you choose in New Zealand, you’re going to get a world class education. And that’s not always the case when students are considering other destinations. Finally, we’re a safe destination. New Zealand has been ranked the safest English-speaking country in the world, 11 years running, by the Global Peace Index. Tourism is our number one industry, international education is number four – these are industries that rely on New Zealand being a good host, and a good friend to the world.

     
  6. Cricket is a strong tie between India and New Zealand. What else, according to you, do the two nations have in common?

    Cricket? Always. One of the other things we share [is a love of film] – India has Bollywood and New Zealand has Wellywood. Our capital city, Wellington, has been host to many world-class film productions like Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Avatar series and many more. So we, like India, have a very strong creative arts sector. We find that’s something students often bond over when they’re in New Zealand.

    Another thing that’s drawn us together, from the education perspective, is the strength that both countries have in addressing the challenges of today. Environmental sciences and sustainability would be one key area where New Zealand, due to our natural resource endowments, has world-ranked universities. Likewise, we’re seeing many leading Indian institutions, whether its TERI, whether it’s IITs or the like, focus on the environmental challenges, given the population size of India. In areas like environmental sustainability, IT, data analytics, entrepreneurship and business administration, we’re seeing world-leading academics from India and New Zealand forge new relationships.

    I think, in the years and decades to come, these education connections will become a real strength in the overall India – New Zealand relationship.

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