New Zealand seeks education relations
Gulf News Dubai, 18 May 2003

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By Bassam Za'za'

New Zealand is a major destination for foreign students and has recently noticed a growing interest from the UAE and Gulf countries, a visiting delegation has said.

Trevor Mallard, New Zealand Minister of Education, told a press conference at the New Zealand Consulate General in Dubai: "Thousands of international students are choosing to study in New Zealand, to explore new ideas in pioneering programmes that will put them at the front in the world's job markets."

"Regarding education, my country is more serious towards the UAE and GCC region. We have had a strong and clear message from the UAE ambassador to New Zealand that students from the region have shown an increasing interest in studying there.

"Families are more interested in sending their children to a safe and multi-cultural society. Also, education in New Zealand is cheaper compared to other countries."

New Zealand is establishing stronger educational cooperation with many countries in the region especially the UAE. "We are trying to introduce our reputed educational system to students in the region. We value our reputation and try to invest in it as much as possible."

Mallard added that tertiary education in New Zealand is closer to the British system than the American system. New Zealand has a British-style tradition of quality education and has also been a leader in the development of teaching methodology.

In areas such as the teaching of reading and in English as Second Language (ESL) tuition, the quality of New Zealand education is recognised and respected internationally. He further pointed out that New Zealand will participate in the 'Student Show 2003', an international exhibition of education opportunities to be held in October.

The student community in the UAE will have an opportunity to explore educational options in New Zealand.

Gavin Young, New Zealand Consul General, also attended the press conference.

Teaching of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and International English Language Testing System (IELTS) are used extensively in New Zealand for admission into higher educational courses. Most New Zealand English language schools and tertiary institutions offer IELTS and TOEFL preparation courses.

Preparation is also offered in some schools and institutions for Cambridge, Pitman, Trinity and other examinations.

There are eight state-funded universities in New Zealand. They provide tertiary study at degree and post graduate levels. Also there are 21 state-funded polytechnics and institutes of technology. Polytechnics and institutes of technology provide tertiary study at all levels, foundation studies, certificates, diplomas, degrees and post graduate programmes."

New Zealand has one of the highest levels of tertiary participation and of people graduating with degrees.

"The proportion of our population with qualifications tends to exceed the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development."

There are more than 80,000 foreign students enrolled at New Zealand schools and tertiary institutes. Over the past decade, there has been a significant increase in the number of international students and there are now close to a thousand New Zealand educational institutions providing for the educational needs of international students.

A mission of institutions in the UAE visited New Zealand recently to market their services and looking at options where courses could be offered in the UAE.

Mallard said: "The New Zealand Ministry of Education has developed the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students, leading the world in the care of students.

"The code establishes a framework for minimum standards, good practice procedures and a complaints procedure for providers enrolling international students. These guidelines have been developed to support the government's aim of advancing minimum standards for the pastoral care of the growing numbers of international students coming to New Zealand.

"With a well-educated population, New Zealanders excel in many areas arts, science, technology and manufacturing. Schooling is compulsory until the age of 16, but a steadily increasing number of students remain at school to gain qualifications for further study at tertiary institutions."