Erenlai - Displaying items by tag: school. university
Tuesday, 20 January 2009 03:57

New Zealand’s Multi-Million Industry: Overseas Student Recruitment

Though not as flamboyant as its counterpart Australia in advertising its foreign student recruitment, New Zealand may very well be one of the most popular and costliest choices of destination for education amongst Asian nationals.

Roughly the size of the UK, New Zealand is residence to over 350 000 Asians alone according to statistics taken in 2006. Not frequent yet ever so present, are the racial violence in New Zealand, which has otherwise done little to discourage wealthy parents from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, Japan and Korea from sending their children half way across the world to learn English.

When Yi Ren, also known as Tina, a 30 year-old Chinese national from Beijing, was murdered in Auckland, New Zealand in September 2008- she became the fourth Chinese national to be murdered in the four weeks to 5 October 2008, where two Chinese men were also killed, and the body of another dead Korean was discovered.

New Zealand continues to be regarded as a generally friendly and racially tolerant nation. The plights of these foreign nationals, be it the repercussion of racism or other motives, can be mirrored in Australia but of a noticeably smaller percentage in the past years. Australia, on the other hand, has achieved a racist notoriety amongst Asian states for its overt ‘White Australian Policy’ and racial conflicts.

I was thus baffled as to why exactly foreigners, especially those from Asia, are bent on paying heavy sums of money in sending their children to study in New Zealand, where a year alone in high school and boarding costs approximately 30 000NZD (770 000NT), not including the expenses incurred by families visiting their children- which could amount up to a terrifying sum, unaffordable even for the wealthier middle-class family.

I am also speaking with personal experience that although not blatantly aggressive, racism is present to a large extent in high school to university life in New Zealand. From harmless name-calling, to vandalism of property to various degrees of physical abuse to murder, I have heard and seen all types of racial disputes during my stay in the country. The pricey cost of living and tuition in total for one year in New Zealand living there as a 17-year-old teenager has lead me to question: Is it really worth spending millions on secondary or tertiary education in a foreign country when one may face rejection in local social circles and face, from time to time, racial prejudice?

Were they, like myself, drawn by the praises of the country’s beauty through word of mouth, or recruited through the numerous profitable agents i.e. the foreign embassies, the so-called education attachés, other embassy staff, or their representatives? Recruiting international students is starting to look like or perhaps has always been a big business in New Zealand whereby the staff of foreign embassies and schools alike have an enormous stake; about 15 percent of all school fees paid by foreign students are claimed by these agents.
While these agents are more than willing to entice foreign nationals to study in New Zealand, promoting the multi-million ‘foreign relations’, the now increasingly negative behaviour of a significant number of locals beg to differ.

Christchurch became the first city to create a website for international students to address racial harassment in New Zealand. Christchurch is perhaps no more racist than your average city in a predominantly Caucasian country but the fact that it has taken action to address these issues show that New Zealand may still be able to abate the anti-Asian sentiments before it grows out of hand.

We often say ‘fear cripples our ability to learn’. Parents overseas too, may need to reconsider before investing million of dollars on education in an otherwise beautiful country. Much needs to be done on integrating the overseas students, and even more so on the young kiwi’s understanding of the Asian people.

Photo by A. L.


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