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Future-proofing international education brings Malaysian delegation to Ara

Opportunities such as offshore delivery of courses and staff placements overseas were discussed Thursday as Ara campuses hosted a delegation from Malaysia, first touring Manawa and Madras St sites, then dining at Visions Restaurant.

Representatives from METEOR Group, a consortium of 11 Malaysian public universities, met with Ara colleagues at Te Papa Hauora/Health precinct and Kahukura Building/Engineering and Architectural Studies Facility to learn more about course offerings in those respective departments. 

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Senior Tutor Mazhar Ahmed guides a member of the delegation through a Virtual Reality tour of the Kahukura Building on Madras campus

Ben Burrows, Regional Director of Southeast Asia for Education NZ, says that the visit was about exploring ways in which delivery of New Zealand courses could be provided in Malaysia, thereby future-proofing international education in New Zealand by “strengthening the resilience of the sector from potential lockdowns or border closures.”   

“The consortium is trying to identify New Zealand partners who have the capacity and the capability to deliver courses offshore.  A challenge for New Zealand tertiary institutions is having the scale to deliver for larger countries like Malaysia. So we’re looking for creative ways for offshore institutions to gain New Zealand qualifications without the need to travel,” he says. 

Beth Knowles, Ara’s International Director, says that partnerships like these are made more possible through Te Pūkenga, which will bring the scale needed for such partnerships. “Te Pūkenga will make a huge difference to international business opportunities like these,” Beth says.  “Often in our work with other countries, we find the size of their demand is more than Ara can handle alone.  This consortium is talking about a large number of students in Malaysia, which the Te Pūkenga network could support, but that a single institution may find challenging,” she says. 

Opportunities such as staff working overseas and joint research opportunities are part of the discussion, she says.  “The Group has national needs right now for graduates in nursing and early childhood education. There are real opportunities to explore further postgraduate qualifications between us too, while also ensuring this would have no impact on the number of people we educate here in New Zealand.” 

In addition to visiting two campuses at Ara, the delegation has toured most other tertiary institutions in New Zealand, including University of Canterbury, Lincoln University, Open Polytechnic, and Weltec.  They have met with the Minister of Education Chris Hipkins and Te Pūkenga leadership.   

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Ara Chief Executive Darren Mitchell and Muhammad Afiq Bin Redzuan exchange gifts on behalf of Ara and METEOR, a consortium of 11 Malaysian public universities