It’s a popular tourist destination. Its educational institutions are interested in getting more and more Indian students. It has a population of approximately four million people who are renowned for their honesty, friendliness and openness.
Welcome to New Zealand, the youngest country on earth (it was the last landmass to be discovered).
New Zealand is one of the most affordable and safe English speaking destinations for Indian students. There are eight universities in Kiwiland. All of them are public institutions and are more or less on a par with each other. The University of Auckland (www.auckland. ac.nz) is the largest, with more than 35,000 students, while Lincoln University (www.lincoln.ac.nz) is the smallest.
There were around 2,000 Indian students in the country in 2005. Not surprisingly, the number increased to 6,000 as of March 2009. Of late, education authorities in New Zealand have been wooing Indian students with their niche courses and pleasant study environment.
Colleges and universities in New Zealand offer a broad range of opportunities for international students. They are ideal for those wanting to study offbeat subjects.
“Universities in New Zealand are slightly different from those in other countries. They are more popular for subjects such as agriculture, biotechnology, microbiology, genetics, forensic sciences, dairy science, viticulture and so on,” says Sangita Kar, manager (counselling), Global Reach, a Calcutta-based foreign education counselling organisation (www. globalreach.in). “New Zealand is also a popular destination for courses related to hospitality, tourism and nursing. Many Indian students prefer to go there for PhD,” she adds.
George Hill, associate professor of agronomy at Lincoln University, who was recently in Calcutta, says, “Our one-year masters programme in international rural development is much sought after. Subjects such as viticulture and oenology are also very popular.” And what makes these courses so exciting? “The quality of practical training makes a lot of difference — especially in the bachelor degree course. During summer, we arrange visits to dairy farms, vegetable farms, animal farms and so on for exposure to different activities,” he explains. Furthermore, Lincoln University has a good track record in development and sustainability studies.
Irshad Jahagirdar, an Indian student doing masters in agricultural science at Lincoln University, says, “I wanted to study in New Zealand as it is very advanced in the field of agricultural studies and related technology. Right now I am in India for research. My supervisor, Hill, has come over twice already to co-ordinate my project.”
Universities in New Zealand are ranked by the ministry of education every four years. The government ranks all major subjects offered by the institutions. This is called performance based research funding — which means that government funding on research is based on a university’s performance in that subject. “According to the latest ranking (2006), the University of Waikato in Hamilton (www. waikato.ac.nz) occupies the topmost position in 10 subjects,” says Brett Muir, international student recruitment advisor of that university.
Muir makes an interesting observation. “Students from north India are more interested in subjects such as business management, accounting, finance and human resource management,” he says. Otherwise, Indian students mostly opt for business and information technology-related courses, travel, hospitality, media and design. The duration of undergraduate programmes is three years, except in engineering where it is four. Most students wanting to study in New Zealand go for postgraduate courses.
“Postgraduation entails a slightly different process. If you are from India and have done graduation in arts or commerce, you will not be able to do masters directly. You will have to do a one-year conversion course called graduate diploma. The course is necessary also for students who wish to change their discipline at the masters’ level,” says Kar.
What makes PhD programmes in New Zealand attractive? “There is no separate tuition fee structure for international students; they have to pay what local students pay,” reveals Kar. “Besides, they can apply for scholarship too.”
There are other advantages as well. “A PhD student may work for upto 20 hours a week, and full-time during summer vacation. His or her spouse may apply for an unrestricted four-year work visa. And their children may study in any public school in the country free of cost,” says Muir. According to him, international PhD students are mostly interested in biochemistry, biotechnology, strategic management, accounting and finance, material and process engineering, tourism management and computer science.
Education visas for New Zealand are fairly easy to get. Most of the universities and institutes in that country communicate with students via their 21 local agents in India. And the process of application is also very simple.
Pranay Baidya, who did a two-year diploma in fashion design from the Design and Arts College of New Zealand, has a word of advice. “Aspirants should try to know more about the people of that country, their culture, food habits and so on,” he says. Often Indian students are found moving around in groups of their own. “One should try to mix with everyone. This helps broaden your vision and has a positive impact during job search,” he adds.
According to sources, the total expenses of studying in New Zealand is around Rs 8 lakh to Rs 10 lakh a year. At times, international students may find it difficult to get a good job after graduation. “Hence we encourage students to start working right from the day their classes begin, even if they have enough money, because the experience will later prove to be very useful,” says Muir.
Engineering students, however, are generally free of such worries. “Our course is designed in such a way as to include 120 hours of internship,” says Farida Memon of the University of Canterbury (www.canterbury.ac. nz). “Industry heads regularly visit our university.” Moreover, every university either has a placement assistant cell or guides international students on employment issues. The international student office helps them prepare résumés, face interviews and strengthen communication and networking.
After completion of education, Indian students can apply for a one-year open work permit and eventually permanent residence. “They stand a good chance of finding jobs in sectors such as dairy technology, biotechnology, IT, nursing, teaching, professional accounting and engineering (especially civil),” says Kar.