Sunday, July 5, 2009

New Zealand Education - Perspectives in Public Diplomacy

India is a lucrative market for the international education industry. For institutions of higher education from Australia and New Zealand, growth depends on the influx of students from India and China. All these countries (primarily English speaking nations) have set up representative offices across Indian cities to aggressively promote their education among Indian students. US remains the first choice, now New Zealand too has joined the bandwagon.

A friend of mine, publicist of one such education promotion agency, asked me over breakfast what can New Zealand possibly do to promote itself among Indian students. While I am not sure about the capabilities of NZTE and the resources they have to undertake a branding exercise, I think the following pointers might be useful:
  • New Zealand is clubbed with Australia by Indians. There is a need to "de-link"/differentiate itself from Australia. NZ can provide a more enriching student experience given the great outdoors and being a relatively 'uncrowded' place.
  • There is a perception that it's easier to get admissions in NZ compared to say US. This might result in bright students keeping away. This is potentially negative.
  • US is considered by Indians the nerve centre of the's 'happening'... while New Zealand is "Down Under." This is an image constraint and the truth needs to be told. Messages should focus on the "international nature" of the education.
  • A media audit of newspapers in New Delhi showed that media exercises are limited to publicity for education fairs and trade shows. A media relations campaign that is sustained should be carried out to occupy mindshare among Indian students. At this moment I think they would be better off if they focus on nothing but a PR campaign.
  • A media relations campaign should take account of the fact that, rarely there have been stories about successes from New Zealand education. Rutherford who split the atom was from Auckland University. I think very few Indians know it. There should aggressive demonstration of successes that New Zealand education has produced, and these should be primarily Indian examples. Not just testimonials but media stories.

I am curious about the country myself and look forward to visiting it someday. Had there been no cricketing ties I am sure Indians would have known absolutely nothing about the country.

-- Madhur

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