Sour Grapes, Hot Potatoes, Go Banana, Apples vs Oranges, Rotten Apple, Carrot & Stick, Crushed Cherry, and Biwi Kiwi: My “Education” notes from NZ visit.

This week was so well spent in New Zealand indeed. My first touchdown in this country was 13 years ago and I clearly remember that the country at that time was not so easy for Vegetarians like me then. However, now it has certainly become more understanding even though my breakfasts and lunches included an overdose of fruits and vegetables that the thoughts that linger on include fruits still…


I had done my homework before this important visit to “avoid” NOT KNOWING BEANS or to be FULL OF BEANS. This blog is not to “SPILL THE BEANS” but will briefly touch upon the key bullet points that concern NZ Education Export to India.

Go Banana: As I boarded the early morning Air NZ flight to Wellington, what woke me up “literally” was the best ever SAFETY INSTRUCTION VIDEO that I have ever ever seen in any of the flights that I have experienced. Yes, I did watch it from beginning to end and then also googled for a copy of the same… This was the introduction to the NZ ingenuity and I encourage you to watch it before you go further on this blog… You will “GO BANANA” on it…

Hot Potato: The “outgoing student numbers” from India is shrinking and in an earlier blog I have seemed to disturb the apple-cart projections of several so-called experts. Indian numbers to Big Five English speaking destinations (including US) has reduced to about 40% of what was in 2009. The situation hence for all the education exporters to India can be described as HOT POTATO… This was the declining trend that has bothered NZ strategists too and so hopefully my inputs helped…

Apples versus Oranges: The Big Five are US, UK, Australia, Canada and NZ. However comparing the trends between them indicate that we are often comparing APPLES with ORANGES. The reasons for students to go to the countries differ and if you take a closer look, you find that while while US has been on a steady and gradual decline over the last few years, Australia and UK have seen a significant growth and then a significant drop, Canada has seen a definite growth and now a slowing down and NZ has held itself around 5000-6000 Indian students a year for several years now. The reasons for the “education” being more with “migration outcomes” is more with NZ and Canada than with other destinations though Post Study Work and Settlement continues to be a factor for 90% of Indian students seeking education overseas. You may say that there is a decline of about 10% this year but then, it is also a fact that as a market share, NZ has actually increased… 5000 of 150000 Indian students in 2009 to 5000 of 60000 in 2012… Certainly a commendable increase of marketshare… Infact the marketshare for NZ of the total Indian outgoing student numbers has increase by 300% over the last five years… The Private Providers and Polytechnics are getting more Indian students and the visa does not differentiate. Hence, comparing the experiences of one with the other can be similar to comparing APPLES with ORANGES….

Carrot: NZ needs to identify the “migration pathway at the most economical price” as the CARROT that it can dangle.

Rotten Apple: The one sector within the education space in NZ that needs more regulations or self regulation are the PTEs. Quality extremes are visible and while there is greater acceptance for commercial vendors in today’s world, some continue to be more about finding “loopholes” than delivering the “quality”. Similarly there are a few polytechnics who seem to moving towards aping the business models of the lower quality PTEs and some are moving into the University space. The challenge for the regulators is to pick out the ROTTEN APPLES and discipline them or isolate them to avoid rotting of the entire basket. A CARROT and STICK approach required. Possibly through the Australian style SVP (Streamline Visa Processing) methodology that can be offered to chosen and complying institutions.

Sour Grapes: NZ is unique in a way that the various sectors (PTEs, Polytechnics and Universities) sometimes offer the same course being sought by the student. Hence for the student, the differentiating lines tend to smudge between the sectors and as ROI becomes an issue, the hard sell of the lower institutions can win over the difficult process of higher institutions. Then instead of focussing on making their internal processes and fee proposition as attractive, the complain often points at the short-cuts adopted by the others. SOUR GRAPES possibly.

Forbidden Fruit: NZ Universities generally are far more conservative than the Universities in other countries and have very high standards. There is a need to convey their strengths to the world in a way that they do not remain a FORBIDDEN FRUIT. My only concern is that the employers that we met seemed to be considering the graduates of the Universities and the Polytechnics to be “like two peas in a pod” and the same applies also to the Immigration NZ as far as visa processing for the two sectors are concerned. With the focus moving towards final outcomes more than experience, the other sectors are gaining over the Universities. It can change with some efficiencies on part of the NZ Universities especially in the minds of Indian parents who remain in possession of mindsets that favour degrees over diplomas and Universities over Polytechnics… How and Who will devise the strategy is the question. Does it not bother the Universities that their approach and need to keep doing recruitment visits to attract students even after being in India for 15 years indicate that the brand has just not been communicated adequately. Pull is missing… and differentials gradually weaning.

Crushed Cherry: Two years ago when the Eathquake hit Christchurh, I had done a blog titled EARTHQUAKE CANNOT QUAKE NZ’S ZEAL and I was hence looking forward to my visit to Christchurch. The city definitely is a CRUSHED CHERRY but the remarkable thing is the way it is going about with the REBUILDING process. The amount of science and engineering that is now going into the 10 year plan is so forward looking and I am sure the world will have a new Christchurch soon. It was my favourite Kiwi city and will remain so once again just because of this quality and determination. The students and employers that we met indicate that the potential at this time is immense. Jobs linked to reconstruction are aplenty. Property prices are up and the economy is once again moving upwards with migrations and returns into the city. Strong recommendations to all Civil Engineers and Urban Planners and all other such skills to consider the Canterbury region for their future.

However, the one encounter that will stay on in my memory is the dinner “courtesy Education NZ” with Sir Richard Hadlee and Lady Dianne Hadlee…
His message for Indian students:
The inclement weather meant that I had to cut out the leisure part of the trip and exit before the snow hit  town… As I boarded the flight early in the morning, I made a memory note to return to NZ again…. There is an unfinished agenda too: A friend promised to make a bollywood movie highlighting a story line that has an Indian boy land up in NZ, meets an NZ beauty with an american “How YOU doin?” accent, promises to make her a call centre “accent trainer in India” and eventually marries her… The title of the movie as suggested by the friend (Arun during the Bangkok meet) was “Meri BIWI hai KIWI”


  1. Hi Ravi, enjoyed the blog and your insights and your frank comments. Sometimes the solutions to big problems lies in looking at it from another person’s perspective. You then spot solutions which are far more simpler and doable. Education as a whole is changing in the way it is being delivered, marketed and innovated. I am sure, genuinely interested stake-holders will look at your blog and gather some valuable and free insights.


    1. Victor, during my visit there were several aspects discussed in great length and I am sure that there will be a strategy forming from them. This blog is only what could be stated without “spilling the beans”.


  2. Hi Ravi, a wonderful review of the fruit and vegetable offering with keen insights on the market. Thanks so much for your time and passionate advocacy.


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