The Central Economic Development Agency (CEDA) is leading an international education delegation to China to continue building on our work to raise awareness of Manawatu as a number one destination for world-leading education and lifestyle experience.
The week-long New Zealand Central Regions’ Mission to China (26 May – 1 June) has several objectives, including introducing and showcasing the Central Regions of the North Island, strengthening relationships at a local government level and with education recruitment agents and Chinese schools, as well as connecting with Palmerston North’s Sister City Guiyang, in the Guizhou province.
The delegation includes Palmerston North’s Deputy Mayor Tangi Utikere (who will accompany the Manawatu providers to Guiyang), representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Massey University, IPU New Zealand, St Peter’s College, Awatapu College, Palmerston North Boys’ High School, Palmerston North Girls’ High School and Freyberg High School. It is the third and largest delegation of Manawatu providers that CEDA has led to China.
China is an important international education market for Palmerston North and Manawatu, with around a quarter of the city’s 3000 international education students coming from China.
These market visits are an important element of CEDA’s work to grow the number of international students from China and connecting with potential international students, parents and other influencers like international education recruiters.
“This trip will provide us with an opportunity to showcase the region and connect with the decision-makers to find out what information is of most value to them,” says Judy Bennett-Smith, CEDA’s International Education Development Manager.
“We gain valuable market insights going to China that go above and beyond what we might read in a report or newspaper article. It helps put into perspective the hugely competitive context in which we are operating and the best way to influence individual decisions around study choice. Building relationships with key institutions and decision-makers helps to keep Manawatu and New Zealand front of mind when they think about international education destinations.”
The mission is a combination of training and familiarisation sessions with agents, on study options in Manawatu, and mini fairs for parents and students. CEDA will also highlight how we can enhance a student’s experience while they’re here and support them to be more connected to employers on the completion of their study. Secondary and tertiary providers will then connect directly with families, parents and students to showcase what they offer.
CEDA is also focused on increasing the region’s visibility on digital channels, with regular content being uploaded to the Chinese social media platform WeChat.
The Manawatu Stories WeChat account includes bespoke content focused on everyday life in Manawatu. This user-generated content by people who live here provides an authentic and genuine account of what the city and region are like to study and live in. This approach has had significant impact already, reaching around 600 influences in our target market.
“The digital landscape in China is fast-changing and complicated, so it is important to have a digital platform to showcase Palmerston North and Manawatu as an education, lifestyle and travel destination, with a focus on genuine, community-driven stories,” says CEDA’s International Market Coordinator, Gatsby Wang.
In addition to leading this mission, CEDA has recently undertaken a scoping study to better understand an international student’s pathway to employment, supported by funding from Education NZ. Findings from the scoping study will be used to inform development of a programme that prepares international students and graduates for employment, with an aim to fill regional and national skills gaps.
Editor Notes: CEDA’s international education mandate includes showcasing Manawatu as a study and lifestyle destination and supporting local providers to connect with and attract international students, alongside ensuring students have the best possible experience while they’re here and developing a framework for better connectivity between students and local employers for employment opportunities.
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