Stephen Fleming gets batting for a Kiwi education

Vinay KamathB Baskar Chennai | Updated on January 23, 2018

Stephen Fleming, Ambassador of Tourism, New Zealand and Peter Bull, GM, International Education, NZ, in Chennai. BIJOY GHOSH

The former skipper and CSK coach is ambassador for Education New Zealand

At 6 ft 2 and looking as fit as in his playing days, Stephen Fleming’s large, calloused hands envelops yours in a powerful hand shake. New Zealand’s most successful cricket captain, Fleming is now batting on a different pitch; this time as ambassador for Education New Zealand.

New Zealand, he says, has outstanding educational institutions, which is now welcoming of overseas students. Indeed, there are over one lakh overseas students studying in the picture postcard country, 12,000 of them from India.

“All these years we were catering to our own people, but now we realize the importance of opening up our educational institutions to the world. As Kiwis, we are usually quite reserved but we found that our universities are quite competitive, compared to the universities in other parts of the world. We’ve gained in confidence over the years,” explains Fleming.

Breaking through

In the past 10 years, New Zealand has been pushing itself to the forefront from the large Aussie shadow on the tiny nation, and education has been a vital component of it. “The country’s really starting to back itself and speak up,” he adds.

Having spent long periods during the IPL tournament in India over the past eight years as coach of the Chennai Super Kings, Fleming says he understands the psyche of Indian parents wanting a safe and secure place for their children to study.

“So going to New Zealand has several benefits. It‘s a safe place, it’s a great place to do business, and it’s a wonderful lifestyle to live,” Fleming makes a strong pitch.

Around 44 per cent of the Indian students heading to New Zealand plump for a management education, followed by sales and marketing at 15 per cent and computer science at 12 per cent. “We see that there’s been a 60 per cent increase in Indian students coming to New Zealand in the last 12-18 months. We’re using the experience gained by Indian students to make sure that our universities are putting up the appropriate courses – linking courses with scholarships – and reinforcing the positive aspects of living in New Zealand, not just the education, but the entire experience. Hindi is now the fourth most spoken language in New Zealand today,” he explains, adding that the country has opened out to multiculturalism.

Peter Bull, General Manager, Education New Zealand, says the 12,000 Indian students in the country are an important part of the mix of international students. “They’re studying a wide range of courses – engineering, business, IT, tourism — some of these courses have particular relevance to our society like tourism, so there’s an opportunity to learn things from a different perspective. Indian students’ contribution to New Zealand is enormous. Not only from an economic perspective, but also from a social and cultural perspective,” says Bull.

New Zealand is an outdoorsy country which places a premium on sports. Indian students are also headed to New Zealand to study in sports- related programmes.

Promising future

Ten students were awarded scholarships worth ₹2 crore in November last for study in 2015. New Zealand has considerable expertise in exercise science and sports management education and the students will study courses ranging from bachelor degrees in sport and exercise to postgraduate study in sports physiotherapy and clinical exercise physiology.

Among the students who have won the sports scholarships are Surabhi Date, a former captain of the Indian women’s rugby team, and twin sisters Nungshi and Tashi Malik, who achieved fame by becoming the first twins to climb Mt Everest, following the footsteps of the great Kiwi mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary.

Published on April 17, 2015

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