24 August 2023 at 2:30 pm
From the CE: A celebration of energy, optimism and human spirit.
Kia ora tātou,
NZIEC TI KUA – the pathway forward, was a celebration of the energy, optimism, and the human spirit of the international education sector in New Zealand.
It was great to see, and be among, more than 590 delegates reconnecting in person, sharing experiences, discussing the future, and listening to a remarkable range of quality speakers. All the presenters were inspiring and all clearly outlined some the challenges and the opportunities as we move forward.
First among these was the visiting Minister for Education in China, His Excellency Huai Jinpeng whose warm outgoing personality was clear to all who met him. It was enormously positive that Minister Huai emphasised China’s was willing to work together with New Zealand to “promote win-win cooperation” and “to unite for mutual benefit”. I hope many of us accept his open invitation to visit China. As he said “Better to see for oneself than to hear from others”.
From the New Zealand side it was a great to have Minister for Education, Hon Jan Tinetti, attend the Gala dinner, and reinforce that “education is one of the key pillars of the New Zealand-China relationship and a foundation for enduring links between our countries”. China was the Country of Honour for this year’s conference and is an important long-term partner.
After a break of four years since the last NZIEC was held in-person, the friendship and happiness amongst conference delegates was tangible.
Certainly, there are challenges ahead as we continue to rebuild the sector. Several of the conference presenters highlighted the changes in global demographics, workplace demand for skills and technological developments as key drivers for a different future in the next 30 years. But the progress achieved in the year since the borders reopened was also cause for celebration and highlighted the adaptability and resilience of education providers throughout the sector.
I’d like to thank officials from the Ministry of Education, New Zealand Qualifications Authority and Immigration New Zealand who attended the conference and gave insights and answering queries relating to the impact of policies and practice. International education is a team sport and it was great to see their commitment to the future of the sector. And a very special thanks must also go to the ENZ organising team and supporting cast who delivered a remarkable and uplifting event.
As the curtain came down at the outstanding Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre, and delegates said final farewells before returning to their homes and communities, my lasting impression was that of an industry re-enlivened by the human contact we have all missed so much.
As our Chair, Tracey Bridges commented in her opening welcome, we have good cause to be optimistic about the future of the sector and the contribution it can make to all the people of Aotearoa and beyond.
It is now our responsibility to act on this optimism and to move forward. As Peter Drucker once said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it”.