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At the recent India New Zealand Business Council Education Roundtable, international education practitioners, business leaders and government stakeholders came together to examine opportunities and challenges for future growth in international education services between India and New Zealand.

Held in partnership with the University of Auckland, more than 50 sector leaders gathered to identify key strategies that could help inform policymakers on both sides.

The afternoon started with keynote addresses from Bhav Dhillion, Honorary Consul of India in Auckland, followed by Grant McPherson, CEO, Education New Zealand, Martin Hookham-Simms, Director of International Office, University of Auckland and Dr Vidya Yeravdekar, Chair-FICCI HE Committee & Pro Chancellor-Symbiosis International University, Pune.

The keynote speakers discussed India’s New Education Policy and how it impacted the international education landscape for both countries. They said the new policy, which aims to internationalise India’s education sector, provided a perfect opportunity for foreign providers to partner with Indian educational institutions.

Grant McPherson added that greater collaboration and cooperation, through mutually beneficial partnerships, will be the key to exploring new synergies for future growth in bilateral education services between the two countries.

Martin Hookham-Simms, in his keynote address said New Zealand’s focus on Te Reo Māori principles such as manaakitanga gave it a distinctive advantage while approaching such partnership with India.

Dr Vidya Yeravdekar who joined virtually from India, also emphasised the need to create mutually win-win partnerships for both countries. She said it was important to not only explore avenues for Indian students to study in New Zealand, but for New Zealand students to study short term in India, and to combine it with industry visits for added advantage. She mentioned that mutual recognition of university qualifications will play a big part in carving out a mobility partnership between the two countries in the near future.

This insight was touched upon again in the first panel discussion which talked about the opportunities in university education with India led by Sandeep Sharma, INZBC Christchurch Chapter Head and CEO, Quality NZ Education.

Speakers included Ryan Gamon, International Recruitment Lead, University of Auckland, Graham Wise, Director of International Development., University of Canterbury, Farhana Nalar, Associate Director, Global Engagement, Massey University and Varun Dhamija, CTO, Times Professional Online, India and Prof. (Dr) Rekha Singhal, Dean of the Faculty of Contemplative & Behavioral Sciences, Sri Sri University

This discussion recognised that focusing on India as a key education services market fit well within New Zealand’s need for economic risk diversification post-COVID.

The panellists emphasised the need to provide students with a tangible value for money on their investments, as it would help combat competition from countries like Australia, and Canada. They said working with bonafide agents and timely processing of student visas was also a crucial to ensuring New Zealand remained an attractive destination for Indian students.

The second panel discussion on PTE, Skills, High School was moderated by Bharat Chawla, Director, RBS Intellect and INZBC Board Member. Speakers included Dr. Srinivasa Rao Pulijala, CEO, Apollo Medskills, India, Peter Richardson, International Lead, Te Pūkenga – New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology, Brijesh Sethi, Chairperson – Quality Tertiary Institutes (QTI), Frances Valintine, CEO, AcademyEX, The Mindlab, Steven Hargreaves, Principal, McLeans College and Ranjan Choudhury, TCS iON, Tata Consultancy Services, India.

This discussion focused on the growing opportunities for upskilling and partnership with polytechnics, vocational training and in secondary education. There was a broad consensus that even though market in India was hugely competitive and complex, a regional and area specific focus in critical sectors of skill shortage for New Zealand such as healthcare, construction and agricultural workers could yield more meaningful results.

The roundtable closed with a presentation by Sushrutha Metikurke, G2G, Commercial Manager, on operational landscape & challenges in the government sector and what opportunities lie in India, followed by Vandana Rai, Director, NZ Immigration Advisers who spoke about immigration challenges and some new ways of working, that can benefit the industry.

A white paper will be submitted to the New Zealand and Indian governments with insights from this roundtable.

Glenn Baker

Glenn is a professional writer/editor with 50-plus years’ experience across radio, television and magazine publishing.


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