More than 75 people have been involved with seven working groups looking at the skills and capabilities the Institute will need in order to create the new world of learning. This work will provide an essential resource for the incoming Council of the new national Institute.
In the coming weeks we’ll meet a cross-section of those involved, hearing about their reflections on the journey to date.
(Please note that these views represent the individual, and not the working group they participated in, the IST Establishment Unit, their organisation or the wider vocational education and training sector.)
Dr Arthur Chin, Executive Director (Business Development) at UCOL
Working group: International Education
1. What is your role and how do you participate in the vocational education and training sector?
My role as Executive Director (Business Development) at UCOL has oversight mandate for Registry, Recruitment and Marketing, Campus operations, and Internationalisation functions. One of my main responsibilities is to maintain insights into the evolving needs of industry, focusing on the skills and talent businesses require to be competitive, both in New Zealand and internationally. With an increasing number of New Zealand businesses operating in several markets, including exporting overseas, I work closely with my academic colleagues to ensure UCOL’s programmes are designed to address employers’ requirements.
2. What’s a little-known fact / something you wish people knew about your organisation?
UCOL’s student demographic comprises of learners from all walks of life, and we have over 50 nationalities enrolled for study with us. There are students who are fresh out of school, in-work professionals who seek to upskill, learners looking to switch careers, and international students wanting to learn how we do things in New Zealand.
At UCOL we recognise the uniqueness that each learner brings. As such, our programmes and support services are designed in a way that acknowledges he tangata, he tangata, he tangata (it is the people, it is the people, it is the people).
3. Tell us about someone who positively influenced own vocational learner journey and what was it that most impacted you?
It would have to be my Dad, who is still learning in his 80s. Dad had only completed part of his secondary education when he had to leave school in the late 40s, just after WWII. Conditions in Malaysia weren't flash, and there was a responsibility for the eldest son to support the family. So Dad became an apprentice to an optician in Singapore, a skill that he continued to practice the next 40 years. Resilience and the ability to engage with people of different cultures are two things that remind me of Dad.
4. What made you want to participate in a ‘Mobilising the New World’ working group?
I completed my GCE ‘A’ levels in Singapore prior to enrolling in a bachelor’s programme at the University of Canterbury, and over the past 10 years my career has revolved around transnational education across the secondary, vocational and university sectors.
I am very passionate about wanting current and prospective international students who choose New Zealand as their destination-of-choice to become successful. As such, participating in the International Education working group provides the opportunity to contribute to and influence the recommendations that will be put forward to the Establishment Board. My membership to the working group was supported by nominations from ISANA and NZISA, and I see myself articulating the student voice during team discussions.
5. What have you valued the most from being part of the International Education group?
International education introduces a number of benefits to the classroom, to our communities and nation. It encourages diversity of learning, teaches us to be compassionate and understanding of different cultures and viewpoints. Each member of the International Education working group brings with them a wealth of experience that could be described as critical success factors, be it in student recruitment, understanding the different educational landscapes, education policy and frameworks, international relations, or pastoral support. The working group meetings are generally full-on, and what I learnt from the discussions will help refine existing practice and build capacity and capability in my institution.
6. How have your skills and experience complemented others in the group?
Each member of the working group brings with them unique backgrounds and experiences. Through our discussions we have been able to craft and define what international education means to New Zealand, but more importantly, how we can showcase the best of New Zealand to the rest of the world.
Prior to joining the education sector, I worked in banking and was involved in developing the Funds Transfer Scheme (an initiative between Immigration New Zealand and ANZ bank where international students studying in New Zealand can safely remit their tuition and living expenses). Subsequently I joined Massey University as its International Director, and had oversight of student recruitment, enrolments, operations and international relations. As such, I have been able to bring different perspectives to the working group discussions, including comparisons between the vocational and university sectors, and commercial implications arising from internationalisation of education. I am also a mandarin speaker and grew up in Singapore living among different ethnic cultures and races, hence am aware of the importance of ensuring that diversity and inclusion are given due consideration in the working group discussions.
7. What has excited or encouraged you about the process?
RoVE is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and it has been such an honour to be able to shape and influence what international education under IST will look like.
8. What has been challenging about the process?
Each of the working group members bring with them relevant experience that help shape the recommendations that would be put forward to the Establishment Board. This is the easy bit. The thought-provoking areas are to ensure that the recommendations align and complement with the work undertaken by the other working groups, address current policy framework (but allow for future proofing), and there is buy-in from industry stakeholders.
9. What has been the most interesting or surprising part of the process?
Hhmm … there has been no surprise (to date), which is perhaps a good thing! The working group meetings are always interesting, as I get to hear and learn how international education impacts on the different regions.
10. What are you most proud of that your group has produced so far for the incoming Council to consider?
In the short amount of time since the International Education working group has been formed it has managed to cover a broad range of topics and issues. The recommendations put forward by the working group will highlight New Zealand’s strength in vocational and applied education. They are future proof, and showcases how as a nation we can all benefit from internationalisation of education. While I am delighted with the recommendations that have been put together, I am immensely proud of the team (special call out to the working group’s Chair and Principal Advisor) who have been part of this incredible journey and whose support for each other has made it that much easier.