11 March 2020 at 9:00 am

Spotlight on the US

We take a look at what makes this complex market tick.

Hailey Suina, a Native American student who won a prestigious scholarship to study in New Zealand in 2018.

At certain times of year, you can stand in a certain apple orchard in the American state of Vermont and hear strands of a Māori waiata.

The East and West Coast Whānau Councils were set up by former students of the Auckland University of Technology’s Noho Marae programme. They were so moved by their experience in Aotearoa that they set up these groups so that they can meet regularly to eat kai, do haka and poi, and keep the whānau spirit alive.

These students are but a handful of the North American students that choose to study in New Zealand every year. In 2018, 3,028 students from the US travelled here for education, a number that has risen steadily – by nearly 23 percent – since 2014.

“More than 300,000 American students study outside the US every year,” ENZ Regional Director – Americas & Europe, Amy Rutherford says. “By educating over one percent of those students year upon year, New Zealand is punching well above its weight.”

Diversity and inclusion

There is a common misperception amongst students in North America that New Zealand is an ‘easy’ destination. Students are drawn here for the tourist opportunities and laidback lifestyle just as much as a quality education.

In an effort to promote New Zealand as a world-leading education destination, ENZ’s team based in North America have focused on diversity and inclusion.  

The remit of diversity and inclusion in the US is much broader than it is in Aotearoa. It encompasses not only racial and ethnic minorities, but single parents, first-generation university students, military veterans, and those with disabilities.

Within this space, ENZ has been promoting New Zealand as a welcoming, progressive place to study. As Māori are world leaders in indigenous leadership, New Zealand is particularly well-positioned to support Native American and indigenous students.

New Zealand alumni like Brook Thompson and Hailey Suina have reported that connecting with te ao Māori has strengthened their understanding of their own cultures, boosting their confidence to act as leaders at home.

As part of this work, ENZ recently renewed its commitment to a partnership with the US regarding its Benjamin A. Gilman scholarship, a prestigious prize aimed at students from disadvantaged backgrounds. ENZ has pledged NZ $250,000 over five years for Gilman scholars who choose to come to New Zealand.

Beyond study abroad

The majority of US students come here at university level, often for one semester only as part of the US university and study abroad provider study abroad programmes.

Rather than come here for a complete qualification, US students travel short-term during their third or fourth years of university. Their work here is then cross-credited to their home institution.

Amy says that study abroad is very popular. For those students interested in travel, adventure, and discovering themselves, it is largely self-sustaining. New opportunities in study abroad lie in expanding this base to those students who have been traditionally underrepresented in study abroad, or regions of the country where not much is know about New Zealand.

Amy’s team is now increasingly focused on a new opportunity emerging for New Zealand institutions: attracting tertiary students to study here for their whole qualification.

For American students, committing to leave their home country for at least three years is a big ask. Attending college is a massive social milestone in the US, and one that alumni pin their identities on for the rest of their lives.

However, increasing numbers of students are looking for study opportunities offshore as the cost of studying in the US continues to rise.

US students are drawn to New Zealand’s highly ranked, innovative programmes in niche areas. An example of this is Massey University’s Bachelor of Veterinary Science. This course can be completed in five years (as opposed to eight in the US), costs a fraction of an equivalent US degree, and is approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), allowing graduates to return home and begin working immediately in the field.

Identifying and promoting these academic strengths among New Zealand institutions and explaining how they can propel students towards the career path of their choice is key to positioning a New Zealand education as a desirable alternative to the classic American college life. 

Want to find out how your institution can get involved with ENZ’s work in the US?

Contact northamerica@enz.govt.nz.

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