11 May 2023 at 11:00 am

From the CE: Our focus for the next 12 months

CE update May

Kia ora tātou, 

"To help providers of international education to build back onshore offerings" is Focus Area One of the New Zealand International Education Strategy. There are nine key short-term actions in Focus Area One. Education New Zealand Manapou ki te Ao is the lead Government agency in four actions and has an important role to play in eight of the nine. It can be no surprise then that for the next 12 months, and our next financial year starting in June, that the majority of ENZ's energy, time and resources will be focused on attracting learners to study with New Zealand. 

This is no small challenge. Our borders have been open now for just eight months. And while students are returning, the latest visa application numbers I've seen report in the order of 43,000 applications (offshore and onshore), the recovery is variable at best. Even within the university sector, that on the face of it looks to have recovered better than others, the experience is mixed. Within the PTEs and English Language schools we have a long way to go to reach the levels of 2019 and early 2020. In such a highly competitive market, it is going to take some time to regain awareness with learners and overcome the head start other countries gained. 

All our budgets are tight. At the very time we need to be investing and getting offshore to renew partnerships and networks, we are all resource-constrained and having to watch every cent. ENZ is no exception. 

This means that for the next 12 months, more than ever, we need to focus. We need to focus our limited resources to where they have the greatest impact, and we need to be aligned as one with the sector. 

India is an excellent example of a partner market that is worthy of focus. I have just returned from leading an ENZ delegation to India. India is forecasting economic growth of 6-7% every year for the next three to five years. They know, and their national education strategy makes it clear, they need educated, skilled and talented people to realise this opportunity. I repeatedly heard, "They want their people back".

That five Deputy Vice Chancellors joined the 23 sector representatives tells you how important India is. As one of the five said to me, "India today is what China was 15 years ago".

To be successful we need to agree that India is important. It is. We need to go there together. We will. We also need to work with our colleagues in other Government agencies to ensure they are aligned. This is what success looks like for me. And this is the level of focus on building back, and the level of partnership with the sector, that I expect from my ENZ teams over the next 12 months.

I will also work with them to secure the many gains we have made in government-to-government relationships, scholarships, diversity, equity, and inclusion, social licence, and in building a sustainable future. All the good work of the past two years remains important for the long-term future, set out in Focus Area Two: Building a new future for international education. 

We are all very passionate about international education and its ability to transform lives. In 2023/24 when the sector is stronger than today, all of us will be better placed to address the short term and the medium to long term. Today our focus must be the immediate needs.

He moana pukepuke e ekengia e te waka

A choppy sea can be navigated

This proverb acknowledges the changing and challenging environment that we currently find ourselves in and how it can be navigated by collaboration and innovation.

Ngā mihi nui,

Grant McPherson

What's in it for me?