9 November 2016 at 9:00 am

Auckland Agency Group progresses student well-being initiatives

A range of new student safety and well-being initiatives – from a new safety video to job-ready support – are underway in Auckland, thanks to the work of the Auckland Agency Group (AAG) formed in July.

AAG Chair Isabel Evans, Director of the Ministry of Education (MOE) in Auckland, says more than 60 per cent of international students currently study in Auckland.

“The AAG group was established to build cross-agency government leadership in the Auckland region,” she says.

“We also wanted to ensure that agencies on the ground in Auckland are collaborating effectively.”

Education members of the AAG include the MOE, Education New Zealand (ENZ), New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) and Tertiary Education Commission. Other government agencies include New Zealand Police, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), Immigration New Zealand, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ministry of Social Development and Office of Ethnic Communities, Waitemata and Auckland District Health Boards and the Human Rights Commission. Auckland economic growth agency ATEED also plays an important role.

Ms Evans said the AAG was involved in stakeholder engagement in August which contributed to a draft International Student Wellbeing Strategy.

“From this engagement, we identified a number of action areas. Since then, group members have been working on ways to improve the overall international student experience in Auckland, with the potential to roll these out nationally if successful.”

Below are some of the initiatives underway.

  • ATEED and NZ Police are working on a refresh of a safety video for international students. While it will be filmed in Auckland, its messaging will apply to students nationally, and should be available from early 2017.
  • ATEED is developing an International Student Experience programme in partnership with ENZ and industry partners.
  • Several agencies are looking at ways to improve the information available to international students and their families. Students are seeking more information on such topics as the true cost of living, insurance and what it covers, employment rights, health services and New Zealand culture.
  • Agencies are also looking at ways to provide more volunteer and internship opportunities for international students. ATEED and MBIE will also launch phase two of their job-ready graduate programme working with ICT grads specifically.
  • Several agencies are looking at ways to better support international parents, particularly those accompanying children who are studying at primary school here. These parents can be isolated and lonely. This support can also extend to the homestay parents who host international students.

“These initiatives are a start, and the AAG members are enthusiastically collaborating to make sure that opportunities to enhance the international student experience are progressed,” says Ms Evans.

She says the AAG’s work is aimed to enhance the service that international students receive from their education provider, rather than replacing it.

For further information, please contact ENZ Acting Director, Student Experience, Sahinde Pala at Sahinde.pala@enz.govt.nz.

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