The New Zealand Institute of Skills & Technology Te Pūkenga is driving an internationalisation strategy hoping to attract labour into the country as well as ensure that all regions of New Zealand share in the “cultural vitality” that international students bring.
The new institution, comprising 16 former institutions (14 of which cater for international students), has also placed indigenous and disabled learners at the heart of its strategy. It officially launched its Te Pūkenga International Education Strategy at the NAFSA conference in Denver at the end of May.
“We’re the 35th largest institution in the world. For a very small country of only five million people, that’s quite significant,” Te Pūkenga international lead and Toi Ohomai chief executive Leon Fourie told The PIE.
“But when you look at our space in that kind of vocational applied higher education space, we’re the third largest in the world.”
Head of International for Te Pūkenga subsidiary, Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology, Peter Richardson, noted that collaborating will enable the vocational specialist reach further.
“Before it was like we were competing with each other. When we’d go offshore, there’d be five or six institutions of technology in the same place, all competing for the same students,” he said.
“Before it was like we were competing with each other”
“[Now] we’ve got all this scale, knowledge and resources.”
Fourie added that international students are key for New Zealand’s vocational applied higher education space.
“Most of our [domestic] students do not ever have the opportunity to travel globally,” he said. “Having multiple cultures coming to New Zealand and studying with them in the classroom provides a better opportunity to experience other cultures and understand what the rest of the world looks like.
“That kind of experience in the classroom is really enhancing. That’s one massive added value for our domestic students in New Zealand.”
Incoming international students also add an “opportunity to attract labour into the country”, he continued.
“We consistently experience a skills shortages in particular areas… the opportunity to attract labour into the country through education to pathway towards residency is a great opportunity for us as well.”
New Zealand recently announced non-degree students would only be eligible post-study work rights if filling specified occupation shortage gaps. For other students, the length of post-study work opportunities will mirror the length of courses.
Te Pūkenga study abroad exchange students are “from a very diverse range of countries” and are “going into the classroom, into quite small communities”.
“A really key part of our strategy is to distribute international students by way of scholarships or some other method, but to ensure that all regions of New Zealand, all campuses, share in that cultural vitality,” ead of International Development at Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology, said.
“Equity, that’s what they’re really driving for,” he continued.
“Especially if it’s an indigenous and disabled learners, providing them the access to international education opportunities, really facilitating that, that’s core to our philosophy in terms of partnering with other institutions.
“We certainly would partner with other institutions if they are similarly applied learning institutes that do a lot of work-based learning,” he added.
“We were quite reliant on two major markets in the past… that caught us off guard”
Te Pūkenga is also hoping to build a “sustainable portfolio” going forward, Fourie emphasised.
“We were quite reliant on two major markets in the past, and I think most countries are, with India and China. That’s caught us off guard, particularly through Covid,” he told The PIE.
“It’s more about the change in the diversifying mix,” Richardson added. “So not relying just on one, two or three markets in inbound, but also actually focusing on a mix of provision like offshore delivery or bespoke types of program development.”
“We want to align more with the partners in countries that focus on indigenous communities or disabled learners, or it’s about long-term skill shortages rather than just for the sake of studying,” Fourie concluded.
“We are getting approaches from right across the world to start to connect with us, particularly out of the Middle East and so on… It’s exactly what want to do. It’s all about quality.”