Whanganui delegation completes assignment in Japan, aims to boost international student numbers

The delegation from New Zealand aims to re-establish international student numbers in Whanganui.

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Whanganui’s education delegation from New Zealand completed their assignment in Japan, engaging with more than 40 agents and visiting six schools in five days.

The delegation also had meetings with Tokyo Board of Education and visited Whanganui’s Sister City, Nagaizumi-Cho where, they met with Deputy Mayor Masanori Takada, Nagaizumi-Cho General Manager Masaharu Kawaguchi, Chairman of the International Exchange Association Ikuo Nagashima, and city representatives.

Supported by Whanganui & Partners, the delegation’s trip to Japan, South Korea, and Vietnam aims to re-establish international student numbers in Whanganui. Rach Hoskin, the agency’s Strategic Lead for Capability, is spearheading these efforts.

Each international secondary student in Whanganui contributes over $40k annually to the local economy. 

The delegation comprises Directors of International Students Natasha McKee and Jane Williams from Whanganui High School and Whanganui Girls’ College, respectively. Additionally, former International Secondary Schools Director Jude Lydia and Whanganui & Partners’ Strategic Lead for Marketing, Rebecca Black, are part of the delegation.

Activities in Japan

The delegation initiated its activities in Japan with a full-day seminar where each school interacted with 15-20 agencies, each agency represented by up to three agents. Following this, they toured Waseda Jitsugyo High School and Junior High, affiliated with Waseda University. The meeting with Waseda Jitsugyo continued over dinner and led to a new agreement with the school.

During their subsequent two days in Tokyo, the delegation engaged with schools and international student agents, resulting in agreements for short-term group visits and several long-term study offers for individual students.

Following their time in Tokyo, the group proceeded to Osaka, making a stop at Nagaizumi en route. In Osaka, they extensively engaged with international education agents, forging new relationships with various agencies across the city.

Collaborative approach

Natasha McKee from Whanganui High School emphasized the advantage of conducting meetings as a region. It enabled collaboration among schools, enhancing opportunities for students and reassuring agents about the ample resources and support available for students studying in Whanganui.

“We had a consistent message, and the people we met could see how sincere we are about finding the best match for each student,” she added.

Jane Williams from Whanganui Girls’ College highlighted the advantage of collaboration. She added that the delegation’s joint approach allowed them to tailor their offerings to different needs. They could efficiently determine which facilities suited each agent or school, whether it was the small school environment, hostel accommodation, or the offerings at Whanganui High School.

“If we weren’t travelling together and supporting each other, some of those opportunities would have been lost. We were able to reassure the people we met that Whanganui was the right place for a variety of students with different interests and that supporting their needs is important to us” Williams noted.

Williams seized the opportunity to reconnect with students who had previously studied at Girls’ College. The data showed that in 2019, Whanganui hosted 100.5 full-time equivalent students (considering half a year as .5), but in 2022, this number decreased to 7.5 full-time equivalent students.

McKee highlighted the early success of the trip, particularly in Japan, where they already have seven students on the ‘probable’ list.

Promotional efforts

During the promotional efforts for their schools, Whanganui & Partners’ Marketing Lead, Rebecca Black, emphasized the unique character of Whanganui. She underlined the significance of the city’s UNESCO City of Design status, which played a crucial role in the discussions.

According to McKee, the UNESCO designation’s prestige was recognized by the Japanese. She mentioned that discussions revolved around Whanganui’s creativity, design innovation, and industrial strengths.

Educational partnership

During their Tokyo Board of Education meeting, the delegation discussed the potential for establishing a consistent flow of students through the Education Board. The Board, especially interested in farming, had previously visited Whanganui with the assistance of Whanganui & Partners.

Plans were made for a group of students from Japan to visit later in the month. The Board also explored Japanese Government initiatives addressing gender inequality, considering how Whanganui’s education system could inspire girls to realize their potential.

Nathan Yasis

Nathan Yasis

Nathan studied information technology and secondary education in college. He dabbled in and taught creative writing and research to high school students for three years before settling in as a digital journalist.

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Nathan Yasis

Nathan Yasis

Nathan studied information technology and secondary education in college. He dabbled in and taught creative writing and research to high school students for three years before settling in as a digital journalist.

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