NZ has been promoting itself in India for about 12 years now. It has had spurts of growth from time to time. However, I have always felt that there is shortage of a proper India-strategy and a proper India-team. What we get is what we get. Hence often the growth is dependent on other countries and often linked inversely to Australia.
- Post 2001, Australian demand with Indian students went down and at the same time NZ importance as a destination went up.
- Post 2003, Australia changed India’s AL and boom in student numbers to Australia once again picked up and NZ growth was affected and numbers stagnated.
- And NOW, Australian numbers are falling and NZ numbers are picking up esp in markets that bring in “concern”.
This kind of dependence on another country doing badly to prop its own numbers is certainly not desirable. And can certainly not be a strategy.
NZ is a fantastic country and a full destination in its own right. Its closely guarded Universities are amongst the best that I have seen. All 8 of them are of very high quality and interestingly, can work together and even market together. They donot franchise their campuses and ensure tighter quality control. This is also true for the ITP sector in NZ. Often comparisons with the TAFE in Australia are unfair as many of the ITPs in NZ are smaller and hence more controlled.
However, there is a worry element too. The PTEs (some of them) are behaving exactly in the same manner as the Private Providers (some of them) behaved in Australia, which has led to the catastrophe that has been witnessed. Compromised standards, working with all kinds of education agents, Offering higher commission to lure agents to lure students, On-shore recruitment, bogus colleges, assured Part Time jobs…
What aggravates the situation is that while OZ was unprepared for what happened, NZ is far more unprepared, just in case anything happens on the lines that it did in Australia.
Hence what should NZ be doing to lift its brand as an education destination?
- Education NZ needs to spend more time and money developing markets that are not recruiting students for NZ within India. It needs to focus on markets that have reputation for quality student numbers. It also needs to go beyond managing India from Delhi.
- Outreach activities of NZ Providers with Indian Universities should be immediately accelerated if NZ wants to become a real destination for Indian quality students. And not merely a way of bringing in manpower to NZ to suit its Immigration goals. Hence I was delighted when I heard that WINTEC now has a tie-up of sorts with IIT Kharagpur. Similarly UCOL has engaged with some partnership in North. However, have not heard of any such real partnerships between Indian Universities and NZ Universities. What happened to fabled NZ entrepreneurship?
- The work with education agents should be more focused on quality recruitment and to lifting the NZ brand. There is a need for a strategy document that involves the education agents in market development activities. The act of “ex” NZ Government contracted staffs is also bringing dis-repute as the impression in the market is that there is a way of getting things done with regards to visas.
- What happened with OZ was also a result of the greed on part of institutions and on part of agents. Sub-contracting and sub-agencies continued on part of respectable education agents till the time when OZ government has come down heavily on such short-cuts. NZ needs to realize this at this time. Institutions and agents need to ensure that every student choosing been counseled by the agent directly.
NZ remains a favorite country and I may remind that when my own brother-in-law was choosing a destination for education and migration, I recommended NZ. It’s a different thing that after living in NZ for a few years, he has chosen to move across to Australia and is now in Sydney. This needs reflection too. How can NZ retain its migrants????