Q&A with Jugnu Roy:
Indian international students
in New Zealand

The international student market from India has attracted considerable media attention in New Zealand over the last 18 months. After years of rapid growth, Indian international student numbers declined in 2016 and that “rebalancing” trend has continued this year. The fall in numbers has been concentrated in the private training establishment sector following changes made to English-language requirements by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority in 2015.
Woman in photo with purple background

Many international students from India come to New Zealand for the research quality, says Jugnu Roy. (Photo: NZ High Commission of India)

India continues to be New Zealand’s second-largest source of international students (behind China) and Education New Zealand expects it will grow in value, even as student numbers decline.

The Asia Media Centre spoke to Jugnu Roy, Education New Zealand’s country manager for India, while she was in Auckland for the New Zealand International Education Conference.

What does the market for students from India look like?

International students from India are mainly represented at the tertiary level. We're seeing strong growth in the number of students at New Zealand universities and ITPs (institutes of technology and polytechnics). There’s been an increase in students coming for higher-level courses, such as Masters-level programmes. There’s also an increase in interest for specialist courses, for instance, cybersecurity, earthquake engineering, biotechnology, or creative animation or digital technology-type courses. Those are areas where there are likely to be opportunities of growth worldwide.

What attracts Indian students to come to New Zealand?

There are several reasons. Many come for the research quality. While India is very good on technology, the research quality is not as high as in New Zealand.

There are many opportunities for research collaborations between Indian and New Zealand institutions – a lot of partnerships are in the pipeline. When former prime minister John Key visited India [in 2016] there were a few collaboration agreements signed. Interest in partnerships – for instance, student or faculty exchanges, and research collaborations – will continue to grow as more and more New Zealand faculty come to India to meet with Indian faculty. 

And as for specialist programmes, many courses in New Zealand have built-in internships, which are attractive because they offer real-world work experience. 

New Zealand is also seen as safe, beautiful and peaceful – and those qualities are very attractive to Indian students and their families. 

Two women standing either side of a man posing for a picture at an event

Bollywood actress Kriti Sanon (right) was recently named the India Brand Ambassador for Education NZ. She is seen here with Shailaja Vora and John Laxon from Education NZ. (Photo: NZ High Commission to India)

Are there certain regions in India that are more interested in coming to New Zealand?

India is a massive, diverse country. Certain regions are more STEM-driven; others are more arts- or business-focussed. Some are keen on trying new courses, such as hospitality, aviation or creative arts. Institutions offering those kinds of courses typically target those regions, for instance those offering technology courses go to south India, while those who are stronger in business courses might go to Delhi or the western part of the country.

How is New Zealand being marketed?

Four women walking down a catwalk at an event

The Runway to New Zealand fashion show. (Photo: Education New Zealand) Students from AUT and Massey worked with Indian fashion students to put together a collection in the Runway to New Zealand fashion show in 2016. (Photo: Education NZ)

We work hard to raise the profile of education in New Zealand among Indian media.

There are a lot of projects we work on such as the New Zealand Excellence Awards programme – where high-achieving Indian students in STEM subjects receive awards by ENZ and all eight of New Zealand’s universities. And last year, we had a fashion show (Runway to New Zealand) where students from AUT and Massey were teamed up with fashion students from top colleges in India. They worked as Kiwi-India teams to put together a collection. Two winners came to New Zealand to do a two-week internship. One of them has now enrolled at Massey at the postgrad level. And I hear she's asked two of her friends to join her there too, so it’s a good success story.

That project worked really well because Indian students interested in fashion typically have been choosing the standard places – New York, London, Paris. They weren’t aware New Zealand offered such courses or has such a high level of design innovation. Now, people are not just looking to New Zealand for the regular courses.

We also organise education fairs for prospective students and their families. ENZ operates a sophisticated international digital and social media strategy for all our markets including for India, and we aim to drive students to the Study in New Zealand website. Last year, the SiNZ website provided more than 37,000 prospective student referrals from India to our partner institutions and agents. 

And then there are school counsellors who help students make an informed decision. Typically it’s always been the US and UK, but now the markets are changing and things like Trump and Brexit do have an impact. 


This interview was originally written and published on the Asia Media Centre by Francine Chen.