Capital's Education Summit agrees pathway for growth

19 August 2015

Leaders of Wellington City’s education, local government and business communities converged this morning for the Education Summit to focus on expanding the Capital’s international student market.

Held at Te Papa this morning, Wednesday 19 August, and hosted by Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, the Summit’s 90 attendees heard from a panel of the Capital’s top educationalists on the issues, opportunities and challenges in growing the number of international students.

The panel featured Grant Guilford, Vice Chancellor Victoria University, Steve Maharey, Vice Chancellor Massey University, Chris Gosling, CEO Whitireia and Weltec, Julia Davidson, Principal Wellington Girls College, and Charles Finny, Chair of Education New Zealand.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown presented on the city’s commitment to education at all levels and the economic growth initiatives currently undertaken by the Council. Thomas Pippos as the Acting Chair of the Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency, outlined WREDA’s capabilities and its development of a draft ‘High Growth Plan’ to attract international students.

“The Capital, and the Wellington City Council, values education and today’s event underlined our commitment to growing our international student market in partnership with the education sector,” says Mayor Wade-Brown.

“Wellington is a great city to study in with all the ingredients of success. Attendees were enthusiastic about the city and region and its advantages in providing a valuable student experience.

“In particular, we need a cohesive marketing plan to promote Wellington’s advantages to overseas markets, and we also heard how the Capital’s Safe City status and access to public transport are really important,” she said.

Key themes discussed by panellists included the importance of growing international students and primary and high school levels, business opportunities among foreign alumni contacts, better collateral material and marketing campaigns, career pathways and better public transport enabling affordable accommodation. A longer runway to enable direct flights from Asian hubs was universally backed by panellists.

Comments from Panellists:

  • Grant Guilford, Vice Chancellor Victoria University: “It’s great to see the support from the region for international education, and confirmation of its importance for the region.”
  • Steve Maharey, Vice Chancellor Massey University: “It’s time for the Wellington region to get together and put itself on the world stage as an International Centre of Excellence in Education.”
  • Julia Davidson, Principal Wellington Girls College: “Wellington has fantastic education providers, let’s sell them.”
  • Chris Gosling, CEO Whitireia and Weltec: “Wellington is an outstanding student destination.”
  • Charles Finny, Chair of Education New Zealand: “Wellington has an absolutely excellent, world class education sector; we need to do better selling that to the world. There’s no reason why we can’t treble the size of the international education sector.”

WREDA will engage with Education Summit attendees and the wider education sector to build a collaborative plan to support the education sector in the delivery of its High Growth Strategy that gains the backing of Education New Zealand.

Attendees will be invited to share their own thoughts on the critical issues raised in the coming days and weeks as that plan is pulled together for action

“We have great schools and high quality tertiary institutions, along with a very good quality of life for the students to experience,” says WREDA Acting Chair Thomas Pippos.

“WREDA’s role will be facilitating and helping the education sector perform to its true potential, by acting as a catalyst to accelerate the work that is already being done by the “coalition of the willing” in the industry.”