Education: International students well-being into focus in the South Island

(caption for the above picture) Public meeting in Christchurch to discuss the new international students well-being strategy; Rakesh Naidoo, Strategic Advisor, Race Relations, New Zealand’s Human Rights Commission, seen on extreme left

- the Ministry of Education initiates public discussions with all stakeholders on a new education strategy based on the Auckland experience

Issues of international students coming to New Zealand, which adds almost $3b to the country’s economy annually, is a hot topic in the country now. All the more when hundreds of students from India are being deported on charges of providing false information to the authorities here. Set in this context was the December 5, public meeting organised by the Ministry of Education in Christchurch to deliberate ideas on improving on the draft “international student well-being strategy”. When in force, the strategy will update the Leadership Statement for International Education announced in 2011.

“With inputs from the the Human Rights Commission and Education New Zealand, the new strategy is based on the four pillars of economic well-being, quality education, health well-being, and inclusion,” informed Belinda Himiona, Senior Policy Manager, International Division, Ministry of Education.

On the question of how to ensure that international students are not exploited in work places, she added, “That will form an important part of the new strategy and we are working with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to chalk out the details.”

 Belinda Himiona, Senior Policy Manager, International Division, Ministry of Education, addressing the gathering

Furthermore, on the question of why is the Ministry of Education not naming and shaming the private tertiary education providers which are engaging in education trafficking, Belinda explained, “Not naming such providers which are alleged to be engaged in these activities is fair so as to give them a chance to share their side of the story with the authorities. As and when the investigations are complete, the names are revealed as is evident from some of the recent examples in Auckland.”      

Sahinde Pala, Regional Project Manager, Education New Zealand, and Rakesh Naidoo, Strategic Advisor, Race Relations, New Zealand’s Human Rights Commission, also attended the meeting.

Sharing the actions taken to date, Pala concluded, “The orientation information stocktake and student focus groups undertaken by the Auckland Agencies Group have revealed the difficulties international students face in getting jobs after completion of their courses. This is mainly due to not having adequate New Zealand experience. Pairing done through programmes such as Industry Connect and Work Ready, volunteering and internships are some of the proposed solutions - a pilot for is already ongoing.”

Recent initiatives dealing with international students in New Zealand:

  • New code of practice for pastoral care

  • Tertiary education strategy 2014-19

  • Migrant settlement and integration strategy

  • Investing in Educational Success (IES)

  • A new international education strategy – an update on the 2011 Leadership Statement for International Education; draft is in discussion now