Draft strategy shifts focus to quality of international education

Posted By TEU on Jul 6, 2017 | 1 comment

The government is planning to shift its focus for international education away from growth of the sector to managing quality, according to a draft strategy published this week.

Tertiary Education Minister, Paul Goldsmith, published the draft International Education Strategy on Friday last week.

Similar to the International Student Wellbeing strategy published in June, the document is brief with few specific commitments.

Nevertheless it does mark a shift away from the approach of the current strategy, which sets targets for export income and student numbers, as well as encouraging graduates to get residence in New Zealand.

The change in approach is described by the new strategy as a shift “from a volume to a value model”.

The change of direction could have been prompted by the forthcoming election, which is likely to include a strong focus on immigration.

The current Leadership Statement for International Education was published in 2011 and includes a target to double the economic value of international education to $5 billion over the following 15 years.

The statement projected 15-year increases in international enrolments of 154 per cent for universities, around 140 per cent for polytechnics and private training establishments, 107 per cent for English language students and 33 per cent for schools.

The actual outcome so far has been much faster-than-projected growth in private training establishments, with student numbers up 62 per cent in six years from 25,700 to 42,500, according to a report in the New Zealand Herald.

The Herald report also says that polytechnic enrolments from overseas have also risen by 49 per cent to 18,200, in line with 2011 projections.

The government’s new draft strategy sets as one of its goals the need to “respond to the unintended consequences of the rapid growth in the industry.”

To achieve this, the government is proposing to replace the numerical targets of the previous strategy with a number of fairly broad commitments about improving quality.

These include three goals of developing “an education to be proud of”, building “sustainable growth” and fostering “global citizens”.

“We welcome any attempt by the government to improve the quality of international education. However, from this strategy it’s difficult to know whether this will be achieved or not. We expect more from the government so we can hold them to account for the actions that they say will deliver their high-level vision,” Nanette Cormack, deputy secretary of the TEU, said.

The deadline for comments on the draft strategy is 31 August 2017.

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