25 June 2020 at 9:00 am

Happy birthday, SIEBA!

Over the past five years, New Zealand’s international education peak body for the school sector has gone from strength to strength.

SIEBA Executive Director John van der Zwan speaking at a hui.

Today, the Schools International Education Business Association (SIEBA) has over 400 member schools. This membership hosts about 90 percent of all of international students at New Zealand schools.

As recently as 2014, there was no peak body for schools wanting to participate in international education – but not for a lack of demand.

In the same year, Education New Zealand (itself only three years at the time), set out to co-create Strategic Roadmaps with the sector. One of the biggest things to come out of our consultation with the schools sector was that they wanted their own peak body.

ENZ’s Business Development Manager for the schools sector, Mary Camp, described ENZ’s early investment as a “no-brainer”.

Now, SIEBA is completely self-sufficient financially, but ENZ’s relationship with them remains strong.

“Our relationship has been constructive, transparent and extremely successful,” Mary says. “Some examples of are work together are the Korean and Chilean government scholarship schemes and educating agents offshore.”

When COVID-19 turned the world upside down, the importance of SIEBA was underlined.

“SIEBA has been the go-to for the schools sector,” Mary says. “We are working closely with SIEBA, like all of our peak bodies, as part of the COVID-19 recovery and sector rebuild.”

SIEBA Executive Director John van der Zwan says he is immensely proud to have had the opportunity to work with New Zealand’s schools community.

“I am constantly encouraged by the work people do in the school sector, and by the amazing commitment that schools make to support the young students from around the world that come to New Zealand to learn,” he says. “All of us at SIEBA are so fortunate to be a part of a very special group of people in a very special area of education.”

John has been involved with the organisation since its inception. He was part of the working group that prepared a proposal seeking support from the school sector for a peak body in 2014.

To help SIEBA get off the ground, John was appointed as Interim Executive Director in 2015 before moving into the permanent role a year later.

“The biggest achievement for me has been working with some wonderful people to get SIEBA to a position where we are recognised, not only for how we support schools day to day, but for being prepared and ready for the role we are about play in leading our sector through the biggest crisis we will ever face,” he says.

“The SIEBA team has worked hard to know our business, build a strong reputation, develop valuable relationships with our partners and be in a great position to lead the work that lies ahead.”

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