Held virtually for the first time, the NZ delegation was led by Secretary for Education Iona Holsted, and had representatives from Universities New Zealand and New Zealand Qualification Authority while the chinese delegation was led by the Vice-Minister of Education, Tian Xuejun.

A key outcome of the meeting was the signing of a Strategic Cooperation Arrangement by the NZQA chief executive, Grant Klinkum, and director general of the Chinese Service Center for Scholarly Exchange, Jiacai Cheng, with the two agencies agreeing to establish a task force on quality assurance recognition.

“The meeting was a good opportunity to undertake some deeper thinking about areas of longer-term cooperation”

“This refreshed agreement reflects the value both organisations place on mutual cooperation regarding the exchange of information and qualification recognition arrangements,” said Klinkum. “As part of our future work together, the two agencies have agreed to establish a working group to better understand the opportunities and challenges related to recognising online qualifications.”

Education New Zealand chief executive Grant McPherson said the Joint Working Group is a valuable mechanism for maintaining the long-standing education relationship between the countries.

“The meeting was a good opportunity to undertake some deeper thinking about areas of longer-term cooperation, while continuing to celebrate the China Scholarship Council students who are able to continue their study in New Zealand following the recent PhD border exceptions.”

Top students from China are encouraged to study for their PhDs at NZ universities through a scholarship program developed in collaboration with the CSC. The program aims to foster long-term research cooperation between NZ and Chinese universities.

Since the last JWG meeting in 2014, large numbers of CSC scholars have traveled to New Zealand for their doctoral studies. One third of the 250 PhD students returning to New Zealand are CSC scholars from China.

Universities NZ chief executive Chris Whelan said for universities the focus of the latest round of  discussions was the CSC students and the Tripartite relationships.

The New Zealand-China Tripartite Partnership was developed in 2005 when the respective governments agreed to support three-way partnerships between leading Chinese and New Zealand universities to further research collaborations.

“The partnership enables international research collaboration, which benefits both countries, and researchers,” said Whelan.

“Chinese students studying in New Zealand have the benefit of studying at a university in the top 3% in the world, and are welcomed onto NZ campuses and can participate fully in student life, enriching campus life  and the wider community.”

“The partnership enables international research collaboration, which benefits both countries, and researchers”

Whelan said these initiatives and the JWG is another strand in building people-to-people links between the two countries.

“The relationship between NZ and China goes beyond the difficulties presented by current travel restrictions, and the meeting gave us an opportunity to take a step back and focus on how we can continue to strengthen our relationship, looking at in-market delivery opportunities, research partnerships and so on.”

In 2018 New Zealand had 36,000 students from China, almost a third of all foreign students studying in the country.

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