Making Universities Grow: The New Zealand Experience
The New Zealand tertiary education system consists of eight Universities, numerous polytechnical institutes and other smaller tertiary providers. Despite the preferential treatment for international doctoral students, the New Zealand sector suffered a serious drop in international student enrolments beginning in 2004, after the damaging closure of two English-language institutes which received significant negative media coverage in one of New Zealand’s most important markets for international students—the People’s Republic of China. New Zealand Universities have aspired to create stronger linkages with institutions overseas to access external research income that may be funnelled through principal investigators at overseas Universities. In November 2015, the New Zealand government asked the “Productivity Commission” to write a report with recommendations on how to create “new models” for tertiary education. The Commission was tasked to investigate “how trends in technology, internationalisation, population, tuition costs and demand for skills may drive changes in models of tertiary education”. For future growth, the Universities need to partner more effectively with industry and create a culture that truly believes that a country like New Zealand deserves a great University system, and that the Universities are a true asset, essential for the country to thrive. This kind of strategy will ensure that the Universities continue to grow despite the vicissitudes of chance events or geopolitical developments beyond the control of the New Zealand government or University administrators.