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NZ positioned for exponential international education growth

New Zealand is already known for punching above its weight when it comes to rugby prowess and stunning scenery. And it will soon prove a worthy global contender in the international education sector, with the New Zealand government targeting a 25% increase in the value of this sector to its economy by 2025.

International education is already New Zealand’s fourth largest export, and in 2015 124,000 international students chose to study in this Pacific nation. But scaling up to a NZ$5billion market will require an investment in agent relationships and student admission systems, as the presentations at this year’s NZIEC revealed in August.

In preparation for our first venture into this important market as an exhibitor at New Zealand’s annual international education conference, we carried out a survey in July. We wanted to understand what advantages New Zealand already offers international students, and what their admissions experience is like today. And the best place to find out is from the people who talk to those students every day – the international agents already working with this market.

Security and stability attract more students

In good news for New Zealand, achieving that level of growth may be quite straightforward. 61% of the 92 agents who responded have seen a surge in enquiries into studying in New Zealand, and 78% anticipate the number of students applying to increase over the next two years.

They cite safety (72.8%), quality of education (67.4%) and value for money/cost of living (56.5%) as the main reason New Zealand is increasing in popularity.

NZIEC delegates also expect the growing Chinese middle class will fuel growth – but it’s worth noting they will be recruiting in an increasingly competitive global market, including the rapid expansion of opportunities at home.

China already provides 40% of New Zealand’s international students at university, according to Adele Bryant of ThinkNew. She also noted China has 318 million millennials – but Chinese study abroad student numbers are forecast to peak at 700,000-800,000 in 2022.

Admissions will need to scale with demand

With this in mind, there is work to be done. One of the biggest hurdles for New Zealand institutions is streamlining admissions management in advance of increased demand. International agents told us of their frustrations with application turnaround time in New Zealand (42.4%) and the inability to check the status of applications (27.2%), along with poor communication (16.3%).

These are all issues we’ve seen and dealt with before in Australia. Through Studylink Connect, with our cloud-based admissions platform, providers reduce data entry and workload, and improve turnaround time, compliance and communication. A third of Australia’s higher education providers now use the system.

In just two examples, University of South Australia recently cut turnaround time from up to six weeks to as little as 48 hours, while Western Sydney University slashed its turnaround from 10 working days to three – while at the same time increasing the number of acceptances.

Just as we’ve seen in the digital transformation of other industries, an efficient paperless workflow system is fundamental for scalable growth. One that also captures and analyses valuable data and provides performance reporting is a competitive advantage.

Easier for agents, improved student outcomes

The agents we surveyed are just a representation of the 6,800 who use StudyLink Connect globally. They told us that when institutions implement our platform, turnaround time improves, as does communication between provider and agent. They also have increased visibility over the application process, and it cuts data entry.

These factors will also become even more important as New Zealand seeks to scale the number of students who apply, and successfully study, in its higher education system.

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Uncertain times, new opportunities

With the election of Donald Trump in the US, the crisis in the Eurozone and Brexit continuing to be high on the political agenda of Theresa May, 2017 is sure to see some interesting changes for international students and institutions alike. 

Predictions coming from the UK are showing that a cap on international students is likely to cost the British economy more than GBP2 billion per year. Part of which, it is anticipated, will be made up by an increase of fees paid by European students coming to the UK. The US, on the other hand, are likely to lose substantial revenue from international students due to President Trump’s recent immigration ban and ongoing political instability within the region. The impact of these changes is not necessarily going to be felt by the elite universities of the region, but by the second and third-tier colleges and universities who rely on international student fees to aid in the employment of top teaching staff and award winning facilities.   

As the world continues to grapple with numerous potential changes, particularly across Europe, the Middle East, UK and the US, international student numbers are continuing to rise in Australia. Information released by the Department of Education in February shows that Australia continues to shine. International student enrolments have increased by 10%, up from 8.9% the year prior, and continue to lead the way when compared with other English speaking study destinations. 

Despite uncertain times, the education market remains highly competitive and continues to face many factors simply out of our control – political leaders, immigration policies, exchange rates to name just a few. It is, therefore, crucial to continue to focus on those factors that are within our control. A future students’ experience throughout the application process is crucial to the success of institutions and is well within the institution’s control. 

Increased service quality and responsiveness, improved turn-around times, simplified and standardised processes as well as accurate and tailored reporting while also integrating with other software and systems are all areas within an institution’s control with StudyLink Connect. Having a system in place that will nurture and grow relationships within the institution, with business partners and applicants alike, will ensure the investment made is able to produce maximum results. 

To find out more about how StudyLink Connect works, please contact Jason Howard

Australia’s foreign commencement growth “wide and deep”

Australia’s recovery story continues as a first-of-its-kind report by the Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) reveals international student commencements in Australia have rebounded after five years of shrinkage. The first six months of the year have seen more than 422,000 new commencements – an 11.5% increase on January to June 2013, with green shoots being seen in the ailing VET sector and notable growth from most source markets.

Read the rest of the article at The Pie News

UK introduces tougher immigration rules for universities and colleges

The British government has announced tighter controls on institutions that sponsor international students to study in the UK. Under the current rules, universities and colleges can maintain their Highly Trusted Sponsor (HTS) status if 20% or fewer of the students they recruit are refused student visas by the Home Office. Prime Minister David Cameron announced that, as of November 2014, that threshold will drop to 10% “after a three-month grace period for colleges and universities to re-examine and improve their admissions procedures.”

Read the full article from the ICEF Monitor

“This is a problem that Australian universities have been managing since the introduction of the genuine student tests after the Knight Review.” explains Jason Howard from StudyLink. “StudyLink Connect helps admissions save time chasing information and replying to emails about an application so they can work on assessing quality, genuine applicants.”

Online education sees 12% growth

Online growth for OS higher education | Story & Education Stories | The Australian. New figures and research from AEI show year-on-year growth for Australian online education courses. Read more…

Student Experience – Good Practice Guide

Whilst at the annual ISANA conference in Hobart earlier this month, we were recommend to review this Good Practice Guide on Student Experience by ISANA. There’s a hidden wisdom “that the experience IS the marketing”. It’s obvious really, if you get the experience right then the students will do your ‘marketing’ for you. They will recommend and share their positive experience with others wishing to study overseas. They will do it for free and with a passion and empathy that your marketing cannot hope to achieve. This is why good marketers focus first on the product and the experience before the message. View full article

StudyLink Connect trained agents

Welcome to the A-Z of StudyLink Connect trained agents. Each of these agents has been trained to use StudyLink Connect to submit electronic applications to our Connect providers. If your agency has been trained and is not on the list, or you would like to be trained and represent our providers, please email support@studylink.com Read more…
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