On 1 July 2010, there were 9,661 international students enrolled in 580 New Zealand schools.[3] The education of these students is of significance to New Zealand’s economy and relationships with other countries. International students are entitled to receive high quality care while studying in New Zealand.

In July 2010 these international (fee paying) students comprised 1.3 percent of the New Zealand school population.[4] Most came from Asia (89 percent), with the majority from South Korea, China, and Japan. Half of New Zealand’s international students attended school in the Auckland region. The region with the next highest proportion of international students was Canterbury with 17 percent.

Strategic environment for international education in New Zealand

The Ministry of Education publication, The International Education Agenda, A Strategy for 2007-2012 provides a framework for international education providers, including schools, and identifies priority areas for government action. It identifies four goals for international education.

  • Goal 1: New Zealand students are equipped to thrive in an inter-connected world.
  • Goal 2: international students are enriched by their education and living experiences in New Zealand.
  • Goal 3: domestic education providers are strengthened, academically and financially, through international linkages.
  • Goal 4: New Zealand receives wider economic and social benefits.

Goal 2 and its key outcomes are the most relevant for New Zealand schools. These outcomes are:

  • international students are welcomed, receive effective orientation guidance, exemplary pastoral care, and learning support
  • international students succeed academically and increasingly choose to continue their studies in New Zealand
  • international students are well integrated into our educational institutions and communities.

International education is socially and economically important to New Zealand. The international education sector generates revenue for New Zealand’s educational institutions and their communities, contributing more than $2 billion annually to the New Zealand economy.[5] Other social benefits identified include:

  • social and cultural gains through learning about other cultures and perspectives and developing skills for cross-cultural contexts
  • enhancing teaching and learning programmes
  • professional development for teachers through international links and greater confidence in cross-cultural teaching
  • raising educational standards through exposure to international thinking.

The regulatory environment for the pastoral care of international students

The Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students Revised 2010 focuses on student needs according to the age of the students, their degree of independence, and other factors influencing their pastoral care needs. The Code gives guidelines on:

  • marketing, recruitment, and enrolment of international students
  • contractual and financial responsibilities of recruitment and accommodation agents
  • welfare services to be provided to international students
  • accommodation services and procedures for international students
  • grievance procedures for international students
  • application, monitoring, and administration of the Code.

The Code was established under section 238F of the Education Act 1989. The Act (section 238E) requires that to enrol international students a provider must be a signatory to the Code.

ERO’s reporting on schools’ provision for international students

ERO has published four previous reports about international students, the first three between 2003 and 2005, and the latest in 2008. ERO has also provided updates to the Ministry of Education in 2006 and 2007.

ERO’s previous reports showed that over time schools have become more aware of their responsibilities under the Code, and that more are fully compliant with the Code. In the past, ERO had concerns about the pastoral care, in particular the accommodation, of young (Years 7 and 8) and very young (Years 1 to 6) international students, but this has become less of a concern. In its 2008 report, ERO noted that in the 2005/06 year, 18 of the 100 schools that enrolled students in Years 1 to 6 had international students who were not living with a parent or legal guardian. In 2006/07, this had reduced to two schools, and in 2007/08, three schools.

In 2008, ERO continued to review schools’ compliance with the Code, but also evaluated the quality of English language support. Overall, international students were well cared for and received good English language support. ERO noted some improvements for some schools including:

  • cross-cultural training for staff
  • reporting and review as required by the Code
  • reporting to the board about the provision of English language support.

ERO’s evaluation framework

From Term 4 2009, ERO based its evaluation of the provision of education for international students on the Government’s strategy for international education.

ERO sought evidence for, and made judgments about, four evaluative questions.

  • How effectively is the school reviewing its provision for international students?
  • What is the quality of pastoral care received by international students?
  • What is the quality of education across the curriculum received by international students?
  • To what extent are international students involved in and integrated into the school community?