(From left) John Laxon, Dr John Subritzky and Affandi Faiz during the roundtable discussion on education in New Zealand.

STRONG sectoral partnerships, including education, have been a key element in the warm relationship between Malaysia and New Zealand over the last 60 years, said New Zealand’s High Commissioner to Malaysia, Dr John Subritzky.

Speaking at Education New Zealand (ENZ) roundtable discussion ahead of the annual ENZ fair taking place on Saturday and Sunday at One World Hotel, Petaling Jaya, Subritzky commented on how partnerships across sectors such as education, trade and tourism have allowed both countries to prosper by providing quality education, career experiences and business opportunities for the citizens of both countries.

“Malaysia and New Zealand’s diplomatic relationship was forged almost immediately after Merdeka in 1957, with some of our ties in defence and education going back even further in time.

“Malaysia has also always been an important market to New Zealand when it comes to education. The first students from Malaysia arrived in New Zealand in the early 1950s under the Colombo Plan and many thousands have come since then including to the present day. These students return to Malaysia to take up positions in business, government or academia. Both our countries are significantly enriched from their experiences,” said Subritzky.

Affandi Faiz, an alumni of Victoria University of Wellington, and president/CEO of Francorp Malaysia who was also at the discussion, said New Zealand’s education system allows for flexibility, choice and great support.

“If I could turn back the time to about 30 years ago, I would still choose to study in New Zealand. The education system in New Zealand encouraged me to keep asking questions which were not only relevant to my course of study, but my other areas of interest as well,” said Affandi, who graduated in Bachelor of Commerce and Administration (Accountancy).

“I was also given the flexibility to choose the subjects I want to study which meant that even though I was taking a degree course in Commerce, I had the opportunity to also pursue my interest in literature. This flexibility developed my creative and independent thinking which allowed me to express myself better and be more confident.

“I’m a product of how beneficial the partnerships between the education sectors in Malaysia and New Zealand are and I’m excited to see the many other different opportunities that future collaborations will bring for Malaysian students,” he added.

John Laxon, ENZ’s Regional Director of South, South East Asia and the Middle East, said that many agreements and collaborative programmes have been launched over the 60 years to provide the best opportunities for students in both countries.

“Last year, there was a 10 per cent growth in the number of Malaysian students choosing New Zealand as an education destination. This is very encouraging as this is the third year in a row we’ve seen growth. We have a little more than 2,000 Malaysian students in New Zealand.

“Over the years, many initiatives have been launched to provide Malaysian students with the opportunity to study in New Zealand. These initiatives include the recent launch of the FCertNZ Foundation Programme which have been developed to strengthen our relations in education.

“Programmes such as the New Zealand Government’s Prime Minister’s Scholarship for Asia (PMSA) have also allowed New Zealand students to study in Malaysia and experience the diverse and innovative education system here,” said Laxon.

The FCertNZ Foundation Programme launched in March provides Malaysian students with the opportunity to experience a seamless transition from a foundation programme to an undergraduate degree in New Zealand.

Under this programme, students who are keen on pursuing their education in New Zealand will be able to complete their foundation year at the KYS Business School in Melaka before completing the rest of their undergraduate degree at their university of choice in New Zealand.

The annual ENZ Fair this weekend will see more than 13 institutions from New Zealand giving students a good preview of the education system there and how they can benefit from it. There will also be a scheduled seminar with topics on careers in aviation by Air New Zealand Aviation Institute and business, economics and law insights by AUT University.

Participating institutions are Ara Institute of Canterbury, Academic College Group, Air New Zealand Aviation Institute, Auckland University of Technology (AUT), Lincoln University, Massey University, Southern Institute of Technology, University of Auckland, University of Waikato, University of Canterbury, University of Otago, Victoria University of Wellington and Immigration New Zealand.For more information, go to http://www.studyinnewzealand.govt.nz/my/nzfair/.

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