Overseas Study

Opinion // 08.03.2017 // Curated by Ed.

Paltry Policy Change for Overseas Study

After Ed. Collective surveyed hundreds of students and asked Government why there was no equality in funding for Kiwis choosing to study overseas, a new policy has been announced.

The Tertiary Education Commission says New Zealand citizens and New Zealand permanent residents who study overseas at a campus or delivery site of a New Zealand tertiary education organisation (TEO) in approved countries are now eligible to receive tuition subsidy funding and student support. Ed Collective agrees that it’s about time a change is made, but this one simply isn’t enough.

Why should this funding be limited to our own TEOs? Our learners should be equally supported to seek out the learning they need to fully contribute to a talented and connected New Zealand. Even if this learning comes from providers elsewhere.

Learner Opinion

Of 771 students who responded to Ed’s survey question last year, ‘Do you think the government should provide funding and allow students to take out a loan and/or student allowance to study overseas’, more than 60% said ‘Yes’.  Only a small minority said ‘No’.  The remainder were not sure.  Ed. Collective continues to engage with learners and asks when their voices will be given more consideration in planning policy that is about them and their futures.

Survey Stats on Overseas Study

Until now, New Zealanders have been funding institutions to develop “internationally recognised” qualifications.  However, at the same time offering no support to learners who avail themselves of that same recognition. As such, only extending funding to Kiwis who study overseas if they study at New Zealand institutes seems counterintuitive. Such a policy fails to help ambitious young Kiwis reap more from the world. More concerning is the message it sends. It seems to say that context change is okay, but don’t disrupt the system or seek alternatives. If that is the case, we should all be afraid of the future of education. In today’s world, there is no immunity from disruption. The call to ‘innovate or die’ is more relevant than ever. We need our education system to be as well.

Who is our education system for?

Our publicly funded institutes have spread from their ‘home’ bases and started opening campuses/operations in different countries.  There are hard questions to be asked about the time, energy and financial investment. Specifically, Ed. Collective wants an explanation of the benefits to the New Zealand learner communities.

If these outposts help lure more international students to our shores, how will it affect our own learners? If an institution attracts more international students, in theory at least, they should be better able to limit or eliminate fee increases for domestic learners. After all, what is the primary role of our publicly funded institutions? Surely, it is to educate and develop home-grown talent (and those international students who choose to come here) to grow a stronger New Zealand.

Although Ed. Collective is pleased to see the Tertiary Education Commission take this tentative step; it’s not the time to tip toe. We need some courageous decisions about the mix of models that we employ across our system.  Learners must have greater choice about what, how and where they learn and develop to achieve their goals. We need to put the learner at the very centre of education, and there is no time to waste.