Prime minister Chris Hipkins announced the new cabinet in January, saying that, as a former school principal and education expert, Jan Tinetti is “uniquely placed to address the post-Covid challenges our education system has faced and get our kids back in the classroom and learning”.
Stakeholders have previously commented on Hipkins’s recognition of “the importance of international education” after he became PM in January.
Grant McPherson, chief executive of Education New Zealand, highlighted that minister Tinetti “knows education well”.
Working initially in primary teaching at schools in Invercargill and Greymouth before becoming a school principal, she has over 20 years experience and has led across four schools across Southland and Taurang, in addition to holding a first-class honours masters in education from the University of Canterbury.
Both PM and education minister appointments are “good news for international education”, McPherson continued.
“We have both a prime minister with rich knowledge and appreciation for the many benefits that international education brings working alongside a minister of education who has significant education experience,” he said.
“Chinese students were already returning to study in New Zealand”
McPherson suggested that with the Zero-Covid policy change in China and the return to pre-pandemic settings for online qualification recognition has led to a flying start for New Zealand in 2023.
“Chinese students were already returning to study in New Zealand and these announcements will encourage this further,” he added.
ENZ has collaborated with Tourism New Zealand to drive awareness of New Zealand as a short-term study destination, and in 2022 the education brand was “back on the map in Colombia” with an important event in Bogota.
“I am also excited to see the relaunch of the New Zealand Schools Scholarships – our flagship initiative for Vietnam,” he continued.
However, not all stakeholders share the optimism. Macleans College principal, Steve Hargreaves, recently told RNZ that international student enrolments are unlikely to return to pre-Covid levels in his mind.
The fall from 400 international students pre-pandemic to 110 by the middle of 2022 has damaged the international culture of the school, as well as being a financial loss.
January also saw the iwi-led Prime Minister’s Scholarship for Asia recipients (Te Piriru Marae, Ngāti Maniapoto) travelling to Hokkaido for six weeks, forging connections with the indigenous Ainu people of Japan, ENZ highlighted.
Māori participation in the most recent round of applications rose to 22%, up from 5% from 2016 to 2019.
“After the challenges of the past couple of years, a flying start was exactly what we needed and I am very pleased that is what we have,” McPherson concluded.