15 June 2023 at 11:00 am

ENZ leads NZ university delegation to the Middle East

The delegation visited Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia to showcase New Zealand as a study destination. 

From 29 April to 8 May, Education New Zealand Manapou ki te Ao (ENZ) led an education delegation, involving four New Zealand universities, to Oman, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia. 

Across the region, the delegation visit focused on engaging with government agencies to promote New Zealand as a study destination for scholarship students, as well as meeting with agents and presenting to self-funded students looking for opportunities to study abroad. In Dubai, New Zealand universities visited international schools that offer strong student recruitment opportunities with expatriate students. 

In Oman, the focus was on promoting the New Zealand education offering at the Global Higher Education Exhibition (GHEDEX) in Muscat. ENZ’s pavilion with the University of Otago, the University of Waikato, the University of Auckland, and Massey University attracted strong interest from well-qualified students and their parents, and government and institution representatives.  

In Riyadh, the delegation visited Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University (PNU) with representatives from the University of Waikato and Massey University to explore institution partnerships. PNU is a women’s university with 50,000 students (57 percent studying STEM subjects) and its own metro system. The university is interested in broad cooperation agreements covering study abroad, joint programmes, exchange, and PhD, particularly in the areas of renewable energy, computer science, digital media, and sports.  

The New Zealand delegation with the Director of International Cooperation and Director of Strategic Partnerships at Princess Nourah Bint Abdulrahman University in Riyadh

Saudia Arabia has a new Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques scholarship programme that aims to send 70,000 students to top-ranked universities by 2030. In the UAE, ENZ met with the Scholarships Office of the Presidential Court in Abu Dhabi to discuss New Zealand as a destination for this prestigious programme. Approval of New Zealand universities by government agencies in Saudia Arabia and the UAE would have a positive impact on New Zealand’s engagement with other government ministries and funding bodies in both these countries as well.  

ENZ’s Regional Director Americas, Middle East & Europe, Amy Rutherford, said this delegation visit was a valuable opportunity to engage with senior education officials in Riyadh on this new scholarship programme as well as exploring institution-to-institution partnerships. 

“We have emphasised to Saudi officials New Zealand universities’ areas of expertise that align with the subjects set out under the programme. However, getting New Zealand onto the Saudi Arabian government’s list for scholarships will take regular and persistent engagement from NZ Inc partners and education institutions,” Amy said.  

“The approval of New Zealand education providers [on the list] would be an important signal of the high quality of New Zealand education and potentially support our involvement in other areas of government funding, such with the National Institute for Education and Professional Development, the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC), or the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Tourism.” 

ENZ’s Senior Advisor, Middle East and Europe, Bronwyn Shanks, said the delegation visit was a good opportunity to grow vocational education links and reengage with New Zealand alumni in the region. 

“As Saudi Arabia works to diversify its economy and upskill its population in line with Vision 2030, there are clear opportunities for Te Pūkenga. There is a cooperation agreement on the table with TVTC, and the new Wa’ed scholarships pathway is focused on vocational education and training. 

“We engaged with many New Zealand alumni who were very positive about their experiences in New Zealand and the opportunities a New Zealand education has created for them. The real excitement recently has been around Rayannah Barnawi, the first Arab woman to go into space, who is a University of Otago graduate,” Bronwyn said.  

Read more about University of Otago graduate Rayannah Barnawi 

The New Zealand delegation with Ambassador Richard Kay and Second Secretary Jess Minehan-Fitzgerald from the New Zealand Embassy in Abu Dhabi, with officials from the Scholarships Office at the UAE’s Presidential Court

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