14 March 2024 at 11:30 am

From the Acting Chief Executive: Building global connections

Linda Sissons

Tēnā koutou katoa 

Earlier this week the Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, His Excellency Phạm Minh Chính, made an official visit to New Zealand accompanied by a large delegation. Joining him was their Minister of Education and Training, Nguyen Kim Son. The visit was a timely opportunity to highlight our education cooperation with Viet Nam and to identify areas in which we can grow.  

Viet Nam is a multi-sectored market for New Zealand’s international education sector and the fifth largest source country for international students. 

I was delighted to witness first-hand the signing of an Education Engagement Arrangement (EEA) between New Zealand and Viet Nam, signed by our Minister for Tertiary Education and Skills, Hon Penny Simmonds, and Viet Nam’s Minister of Education and Training. This arrangement demonstrates to prospective students and their families that New Zealand is a partner of choice for the Vietnamese Government in the field of education, which aligns with the New Zealand Government’s priority to build a more resilient and sustainable sector. You can read more about the EEA and the signing event in this issue of E-News here.  

Keeping with the theme of building global connections, last week I was pleased to meet with Ambassador Eduardo Saboia, the Secretary for Asia and Pacific at Brazil’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Itamaraty). Brazil is our largest partner in Latin America and prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, New Zealand welcomed over 3,000 Brazilian students. We know that Brazilian students are valued additions to New Zealand classrooms, and that Brazil has been a popular destination for the Prime Minister’s Scholarships for Latin America. 

Last week we also received formal confirmation that Hon Penny Simmonds, Minister for Tertiary Education and Skills, will be the Minister responsible for international education and Education New Zealand Manapou ki te Ao. 

Minister Simmonds is the Member of Parliament for Invercargill, elected in 2020. Prior to her election, Penny was Chief Executive of the Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) from 1997 to 2020.  

The coalition Government has made clear its objective to double the value of exports in 10 years and we now await the Minister’s Letter of Expectations which will set out her detailed expectations for our work. 

In closing, positive news to share is that international students are returning to New Zealand. The total number of international student visa holders, in and outside New Zealand is now 45,753 that is a 171 percent increase since our borders reopened in August 2022 (16,853). The total number of visa holders in March 2024 is 68 percent of those in March 2020 (67,331), when the borders closed. It is heartwarming to see the beaming and excited faces of the new intake of international students joining their schools, universities, Polytech's, English language institutes, and other private training establishments in the gallery of student welcomes that has been compiled here 

After the challenges of recent years, it is a reason to celebrate. 

Ngā mihi, 


Linda Sissons 

Acting Chief Executive   

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