An Exclusive Interview with John Laxon, Regional Director of Education New Zealand

Published by on Aug 03, 2018, 09:06 am

Earlier this week, had the great opportunity to interview John Laxon, the Regional Director of Education New Zealand (ENZ), the official international organisation that accommodates the arrival of international students into institutions in New Zealand. As Regional Director, Laxon’s role covers the South, Southeast Asia and Middle East regions.

According to Laxon, the data collected by ENZ shows that as of June this year there has been a 21 percent increase in Malaysian student enrolments this year compared to the same period last year.

Why a New Zealand education?

So, what exactly is it about New Zealand education that attracts Malaysians to it? Here’s what Laxon, has to say about it: “Malaysian students are increasingly choosing New Zealand as they recognise a New Zealand education best prepares them for a successful global career. New Zealand’s institutions have global industry connections and offer real-life and practical challenges as part of the curriculum. This is different to many education systems that are more focussed on classroom theory and rote learning.”

Image via Lincoln University

“The qualifications from our tertiary institutes are recognised around the world and are designed to produce smart, capable, well-functioning members of society with the skills and knowledge to make a positive contribution to society,” Laxon finishes.

When asked about what it is that sets New Zealand apart from its neighbouring countries—particularly Australia, another popular education destination among Malaysians—and makes it the choice destination for education, Laxon emphasises student experience as the unique feature of New Zealand education, especially regarding safety and security. Laxon elaborates as such: “Being ranked the most peaceful English-speaking country in the world for 11 years in a row by the Global Peace Index, New Zealand was the very first country to adopt a Pastoral Code of Care for its international students that sets out minimum standards of advice and care for students and provides them with guidelines to adhere to should they have concerns about the treatment they are receiving.” In other words, New Zealand education puts the safety of their students first and foremost. Parents who are troubled by the thought of sending their children far away from home clearly need not worry!

New Zealand institutions and post-graduation opportunities

Another aspect of studying abroad that Malaysian students often voice out on has to do with the entry requirements that institutions in the country might have, which can often be specific to each institution and country. While the United Kingdom may be a bit more lenient, United States higher education would often demand international students to sit for US-specific entrance exams for them to be considered into their institutions.

As expected, there is no single answer that Laxon could provide us with: “Entrance requirements vary by institution and programme, although international qualifications such as the IB Diploma, GCE Advanced Levels and the Malaysian STPM are generally recognised.” Laxon also states that English-language requirements would depend on the intended level of study, and generally IELTS, TOEFL or Pearson English-language tests are required as part of the admission and visa processes. This seems to be the standard with nearly every major country that students choose to study abroad.

Image via New Zealand Immigration

We then asked Laxon about another pressing concern of Malaysian students: job opportunities and whether they are not only present, but abundant in New Zealand. On this, Laxon assures all that Malaysian students have great career opportunities in New Zealand and can also work during their studies as well as after they graduate. Laxon also reiterates that there are plenty of job opportunities for students when they go back home, too: “The country’s internationally-recognised qualifications allow for any New Zealand graduate to have great mobility, whether they prefer to stay in New Zealand, go back to Malaysia, or relocate overseas to work.”

On student life and getting around

On a lighter note, we also took the opportunity to ask Laxon about student life there and what Kiwis typically do for fun. What’s their day-to-day routine like? To this Laxon responds, “Beyond the curriculum, students are encouraged to interact with others in the community by participating in social clubs and special interest organisations. Malaysian students often use the weekends to explore other regions in New Zealand, which are just a short road trip away. They not only have access to the great outdoors, but also the city scene.” It is with no doubt that New Zealand is never short of beautiful scenery. The Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed in New Zealand for its gorgeous mountains and thick forests!

Image via Tourism New Zealand

On the topic of food (as any Malaysian would love to find out!), Laxon emphasises that New Zealand is home to some amazing natural food sources, being a major exporter of meat and seafood. He also notes, “Farmer’s markets are a must-visit for international students where the country’s fresh produce and local delights thrive. On top of that, there are also plenty of halal-friendly food options for Malaysian students as well, ranging from traditional Asian cuisine to Turkish and Middle Eastern dishes.”

Getting around in New Zealand is also easy and can be a treat for international students to experience. Laxon summarises the country’s transport system as such: “Day to day commuting in the city is often by bus, biking or walking. There are bus networks in the main cities i.e. Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin, and flights and bus routes connecting all major cities. Auckland and Wellington also have commuter rail and ferries.”

Image via UConn Education Abroad

Another aspect of student life that we managed to ask Laxon about is the national holidays and celebrations that the locals like to get up to. According to Laxon, New Zealand institutions often integrate international students when celebrating national holidays, and this can come in many forms including having educational booths in schools to explain the significance behind the holidays. Laxon notes as such: “International students, including Malaysians, also have the opportunity to share with other local students the festivity of each of their national holidays. For example, a number of Malaysian student associations will conduct a breaking fast session for all students during Ramadan so that everyone will feel integrated and understand the meaning behind the Holy Month.”

If you’re thinking about studying in New Zealand this year or the next and are interested in learning about the education opportunities there, then make your way to the ENZ Fair in Petaling Jaya this Saturday, 4 August 2018! Click here to read more about it, and clear your schedules for the big fair!

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