UP Education students have access to Sonder’s services, including its 24/7 assistance, safety alerts and tracking function.

“New Zealand is known as a great place to study, and we attract high-quality students from around the world,” explained UP Education chief executive, Mark Rushworth.

“Extending our service to the New Zealand education sector is an exciting step for us”

“These students have travelled far from home and are entrusting us with their education. In return, we have an obligation to make sure that they are safe and that we are providing them with all the support we can.”

The partnership is the first of its kind in New Zealand’s tertiary sector, he said, adding it delivers a step-change in pastoral care by providing in-person and virtual support to students.

Students in Auckland, Hamilton and Wellington can request in-person support from Sonder liaison officers, while all its international students will have free access to the Sonder app and 24/7 support from the Sonder Support Centre.

For Australia-based Sonder, the agreement marks the first foray into the New Zealand market.

“Partnering with an education provider like UP Education, which has a clear commitment to the health and wellbeing of its students, was an important factor for us in progressing the next phase of our company growth,” said Sonder chief executive and co-founder, Craig Cowdrey.

“Extending our service to the New Zealand education sector is an exciting step for us as we continue to make the world safer and more meaningfully connected.”

In the first three months of the partnership, one in two UP Education international students activated their Sonder account, while more than 90% of these made “active use” of the services.

Nearly 95% of students said the service gave them “peace of mind”, Rushworth noted.

“Our international students are far from home and many have a limited support network. While we have a brilliant one-to-one approach with students, we know that feelings of concern and anxiety are natural.

“This can be compounded when moving to a new country for the first time, especially during a pandemic. That is why we have partnered with Sonder, providing our students with the extra support they need via their smartphone.”

Sonder has helped UP Education’s international students with issues ranging from a lost cell phone to alerting them to a major police incident in Wellington to helping students manage mental health concerns, Rushworth continued.

Sonder has reported a “surge” of mental health related calls since the outbreak of Covid-19 in Australia.

“When people feel supported, they make better calls when challenging circumstances arise,” Cowdrey added.

“This is something we’re seeing more of and it’s our role to help people through the tough times – to take the best action to protect their rights, welfare and safety.”

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