Study Abroad: New Zealand’s flagship PhD subsidy program that treats international students like domestic students
Abroad Study: New Zealand’s PhD tuition strategy for international students 2005-2015, a holistic analysis– a paper by the international director at the University of Auckland, they argue In the paper, that the program has boosted the country’s research output and higher education reputation as well as offset the country’s outward flow of domestic talent.
But, with nationalism on the rise globally and a general election in September, he says New Zealand’s international education sector needs greater advocacy.
“The general public understands the revenue side but not necessarily how international students contribute to their children’s educational experience and to society in general, beyond the dollars,” the paper says.
The paper points out that while New Zealand’s share of globally mobile students has declined, its presence in top 500 rankings has increased as a result of the 12-year old initiative.
All eight of New Zealand’s universities are now in the top 500 of the QS World University Rankings compared to three in 2005.
The paper also shows that international PhD enrolments have soared since the program was established, from 14% of total HE students to 45% in 2015, equating to just over 4,000 students.
Beyond rankings and enrolments, the paper elicited the academic impact international PhD students have made showing that prior to the strategy the rate of citations for New Zealand research was .96% of the world average and in 2015 it had risen to 1.26%.
At the University of Auckland, on average, each international PhD student produces 2.7 authored or co-authored papers, 1.1 authored or co-authored book chapters, and 3 authored or co- authored conference papers.
“To offer domestic tuition to all doctoral students, full-time work rights to the student and his or her partner, and domestic school fees for their children is unique in its scope and vision,” he said.
The program also offsets the overseas experience sought by many Kiwi graduates, the paper contends. Government statistics show 41% of domestic PhD graduates are overseas five years after graduation. Meanwhile, one in four international PhD graduates remains in New Zealand five years after graduation.
A recent Ministry of Education report, Moving Places – Destinations and earnings of international graduates, found one in three international students is still in New Zealand five years after their first student visa. Survey sample at students 30 years old and younger, which includes only 21-30% of PhD students.
This is a serious flaw in the statistical relevance of the findings as it severely restricts the sample size,” the paper argues. “It is intuitively evident that the extremely low sample size of international PhD graduates under 30 cautions against policy evaluation based solely on this data set.In the run-up to the election, the Ministry of Education has signaled a reevaluation of the PhD scheme and an intention to reanalyse international students using a larger, up-to-date data set.
The paper encourages the Ministry to analyze the findings for PhD graduates without the age filter for analyses. This will be more useful to New Zealand universities and the field of international education in general.
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