Speculation has been rife about how he will handle the position, and for the international education sector, how he will be perceived in the role.
“Chris Hipkins will bring a strong understanding of the higher education sector to his new role as Prime Minister of New Zealand,” said Auckland University of Technology Vice-Chancellor Damon Sales. PIE news.
“We were delighted by his statements late last year as Higher Education Minister in which he recognized the importance of international education to New Zealand and promoting New Zealand as an international education hub in Asia and North America,” he continued.
By nickname “Mr. Fixit” Labor – the party he now leads – was “unanimously” chosen to succeed Ardern just under a year after he pledged to prioritize “value over volume” in terms of international education strategy.
“The ideal international student for us is someone who leaves and wants to come back in a few years, bring their new family with them and maintain those connections with the people they’ve grown close to while in New Zealand,” said Hipkins The The New Zealand. PIE at last year’s NAFSA conference.
“Without flooding the system with large quantities [visa] The applications that then stop everything were a key factor in how we delayed the reopening,” Hipkins said.
Hipkins’ tenure has not only been up and down in terms of education – he was also appointed Covid-19 minister during the Labor government’s second term and received criticism for Auckland tough blocking.
“He knows the important contribution of international students”
However, Hipkins’ reputation as “hyper-competent” led him to work in the education and police departments, according to the Victoria University of Wellington academic – and according to the chair New Zealand universitieshe recognizes how important international education is to New Zealand.
“He knows the vital contribution international students – whether undergraduate, postgraduate or postgraduate – make not only to New Zealand’s eight universities, but to New Zealand’s society and economy, and how throughout their lives they are an invaluable link between New Zealand and their home countries,” said Cheryl de la Rey, also chair of the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee.
“Prime Minister Hipkins also knows how important it is to restore international student numbers in New Zealand now that the country’s Covid-19 border restrictions have been fully lifted, as they have been since August 2022,” added Rae.
There were warnings from another stakeholder that while he had been an “effective and proactive” education minister, there were still policies that the sector did not like.
“We were very disappointed that he has re-introduced the Education Export Tax in 2023 at a time when providers, particularly the English language sector, need these funds to sell the learning experience in New Zealand,” Kim Renner, chief executive of the company English New Zealandtold The PIE.
On January 1, the Cabinet of Ministers confirmed that after the suspension in 2022 the tax on the export of education would be restored this year.
However, both Renner and Rae praised Hipkins and Ardern’s efforts to advance the country’s international education agenda by promoting the country through extensive overseas travel. Renner said he “showed first-hand how it connects us around the world, the important role that educational institutions play and how much we are valued as a place of quality.”
“We were very disappointed that he re-introduced the education export tax for 2023.”
“We have greatly appreciated this support and expect it to continue under Hipkins’ successor as Education Secretary, now that Hipkins is Prime Minister himself,” Ray said.
Auckland University of Technology’s Meredith Smart, a PVC spokeswoman, also added that his tenure as education minister during “the COVID years” meant he was “probably more aware of the impact of losing international students on universities, communities and the economy”.
Stakeholders can’t see the future and how Hipkins will act in the sector in his new role at the top, his interests in student rights stretching back to when he was a student himself – even when he was arrested for protesting a raise student fees.
For Salezza, progress is key for this next phase of Hipkins’ career and the next government. New Zealand has a general election in October, so Hipkins has just 10 months to prove himself – and Labor has some catching up to do in the polls.
“There are some key challenges and opportunities that we would like to see progress under his government. These include more competitive immigration policy settings to make the country a more attractive place to study,” added Saleza.
Read The PIE’s full interview with Chris Hipkins at NAFSA 2022.