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Performance Challenge - Outcomes

Education NZ’s purpose is to take New Zealand’s education experiences to the world for enduring economic, social and cultural benefits. The functions of Education NZ are specified in Part 21 of the Education Act 1989. Education NZ’s functions are aligned with giving effect to the Government’s Leadership Statement for International Education which sets out three goals:

Goal 1: New Zealand’s education services delivered in New Zealand are highly sought after by international students

Goal 2: New Zealand’s education services delivered offshore are highly sought after by students, education providers, businesses and governments overseas

Goal 3: New Zealand makes the best possible use of its international education expertise to build skills in our workforce, to grow research capability and to foster wider economic connections between New Zealand and overseas firms.

Education NZ’s focus in the four years since its establishment has been largely on Goal 1 of the Leadership Statement for International Education (promoting New Zealand as an attractive education destination) as this represents the greatest area of activity traditionally and represents the majority of economic benefit realised. Numbers of students coming to New Zealand were down following the Global Financial Crisis and Education NZ’s predecessor organisations were not seen as effective in marketing New Zealand education globally. The last four years have seen that trend reversed as Education NZ has strengthened the New Zealand brand and put in place effective support for the providers in their student attraction efforts. Since its establishment Education NZ has placed considerable effort into developing and telling the New Zealand education story and is actively working to grow awareness of the New Zealand’s international education brand. Numbers of students choosing to study in New Zealand have increased over this period which would tend to indicate that Education NZ’s work is having a positive impact on attraction, although as always direct attribution is difficult with destination marketing.

In addition Education NZ has put considerable attention into developing its relationships with New Zealand’s education providers and in doing so has built confidence and credibility with the sector. Over that period it has made significant gains in the strength of its relationships and is now generally well regarded and valued by the education sector for its in-market marketing and promotional work. This represents a marked improvement on its predecessors and Education NZ is to be commended for its progress in this area.

In the current year, Education NZ has started to develop more sophisticated profiles of target markets and student attributes that are intended to inform its marketing and sector support functions. While these are at early stages of development they demonstrate Education NZ’s continuing evolution of its practice and strategy.

In summary Education NZ has completed a generally well-executed establishment phase that has seen it contribute to improvements in the numbers of international students currently choosing to study in New Zealand.

Education NZ’s performance challenge is to move beyond this establishment phase into a much more strategic and influencing role. The environment for international education is complex and fast changing and Education NZ has two major challenges in delivering on the goals set out in the Leadership Statement for International Education. These are:

  • Strategic and influential thought leadership
  • Influencing the future of New Zealand’s international education industry.

Strategic and influential thought leadership

The Leadership Statement for International Education provides the goals for international education but the detailed value proposition and the policy environment that support the goals are less developed and are evolving over time, often reactively. Education NZ is the only organisation solely focused on international education. Education NZ, along with the industry, must work to increase the value of international education to $5 billion per annum by 2025. Education NZ is operating at the interface of the Government’s economic and education agendas with a unique single focus lens on international education. This is an uncertain environment with an ill-defined interface. It is not clear how opportunities or trade-offs that fall across the economic and education agendas can be made. The Education NZ role is unique, complex and as yet not well defined.

Furthermore, Education NZ’s work with existing education providers illustrates that New Zealand’s international education sector is limited in volume and value unless current providers change their appetite and aspirations to provide greater international education opportunities, and new products and services that expand upon current providers and delivery channels are developed. And time is short. To date New Zealand has been a follower rather than a leader in international education in general and particularly in the disruptive technologies that are rapidly changing education worldwide. Its international education capability and offerings (both inbound and trans-national) are relatively immature and not particularly targeted compared to its key international competitors. There is a lot of ground to make up.

In this context Education NZ’s performance challenge is to with confidence and certainty describe New Zealand’s unique and compelling role and pathway in the delivery of global education services. It needs to understand the student customers’ aspirations and preferences and based on this deep and rich understanding be able to articulate and evidence what New Zealand’s international education value proposition is in a global and highly competitive market; describe the operating and enabling environment changes required for this to be realised; and clearly demonstrate its own value proposition in delivering against these goals.

It must articulate this in a way that supports the clarity required for other government agencies to align their policy and regulatory settings and to work across the New Zealand government system to support the growth of New Zealand’s second largest service export sector with the associated benefits for New Zealand. Furthermore it must stay close to student customers to understand their experience of the New Zealand international education offering in order to grow preference for New Zealand international education in conjunction with providers.

As a delivery agency Education NZ rightly does not have a policy capability nor does it have regulatory or other levers available to it. However it cannot continue be effective without a well developed value proposition and a clear strategy to influence and drive wider policy alignment. Delivering against the Government’s goals will require tough decisions and strong collaborative relationships across a broad range of organisations operating on both the education and economic spectrum of government. Education NZ’s challenge is to become the evidence based, market intelligence agency that with clarity and confidence can identify the opportunities, associated barriers and enabling strategies/policies that will unlock further potential from international education for New Zealand.

A key enabler in realising this challenge will be for Education NZ to help refocus the already established International Education Senior Officials Group (IESOG) as a critical vehicle to provide the direction and coordination that international education needs, with Education NZ directing the agenda, providing insights into the voice of the customer with the data and market intelligence to inform. IESOG needs to prioritise an aligned all-of-government response to delivery upon the BGA outcomes related to international education and make critical contributions to the New Zealand education system. IESOG under the active oversight of key agency Chief Executives needs to become a highly effective officials’ body for international education sector policy, aligning its collective levers to support the achievement of the BGA goals. This critically speaks to the roles of the Ministry of Education and MBIE providing policy framework clarity and direction for sector agencies regarding alignment of priorities to support the BGA international education goals.

Education NZ’s role then becomes that of the expert organisation, using its connectivity and presence to harvest market intelligence and insights and using this information to become the critical influencer and linker between government agencies and education providers (both existing and new). In doing so it must work to identify and remove barriers, and identify and/or create opportunities to maximise New Zealand’s education, social and economic benefits from the international education sector in ways that meet the expectations and preferences of the student customer.

As noted it is vital that Education NZ determine its value proposition, namely what is its intervention logic, where can it add the most value with the available resource, where does it not add value and what is the business model that will achieve this. We see this as a concentrated piece of work that Education NZ cannot do it on its own. How the government system works together to facilitate agreed international education outcomes is critical. The central government agencies, especially the Ministry of Education and MBIE, will need to commit strongly to this piece of work. Once clarified, Education NZ and the system can put in place a framework that identifies what Education NZ needs from its system partners and gain their commitment.

Education NZ also needs to undertake the following actions in relation to the three Goals set in the Leadership Statement for International Education.

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