NEW Zealand’s relationship with Malaysia is one of our oldest and closest in Southeast Asia.
We are long-standing partners in a broad range of areas, including trade and commerce, defence, education and tourism.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between our two countries, forged almost immediately after Merdeka. And some of our ties go back even further in time, especially in defence and education.
The education partnership between Malaysia and New Zealand dates back to the early days of the Colombo Plan, which was first conceived in 1951.
Since then, many Malaysians have pursued their educational goals in New Zealand under numerous education partnerships between our countries.
Today, more than 2,000 Malaysian students are in New Zealand to pursue an international education and global career – and the number keeps growing.
Malaysian students choose to study in New Zealand because we offer a friendly, safe and world-class education experience.
Malaysian citizens can visit New Zealand visa-free, and all of our universities are ranked in the top 3 per cent of universities worldwide.
The education system in New Zealand also equips international students, including Malaysians, with industry relevant experience by allowing them to work up to 20 hours per week during term time and up to 40 hours per week over term break.
The Malaysian and New Zealand governments have provided strong leadership in building the education relationship between our countries.
Malaysia and New Zealand signed the Arrangement on Higher Education Cooperation in 2013, enabling higher education providers in both countries to work together in areas such as teacher training, postgraduate studies and research and innovation.
Partnerships between institutions have also supported the diplomatic relationship.
One example is the collaboration between New Zealand’s universities and KYS International College Sdn Bhd (KYSIC), signed in 2015.
The collaboration has resulted in the newly launched FCertNZ Foundation Programme, which will see Malaysian students undergo a one-year foundation programme in KYSB before proceeding to a three-year (or more) undergraduate course at any of New Zealand’s eight world-class universities.
Such collective partnerships are crucial to meeting the needs of our young people, who increasingly seek a variety of global education and career pathways.
A successful education partnership cannot be a ‘one-way street’, and the New Zealand government’s Prime Minister’s Scholarship for Asia (PMSA) allows New Zealand students to experience the diverse and innovative education systems in Malaysia and other parts of Asia.
Since its inception in October 2013, over 50 students from New Zealand have been sponsored to attend Malaysian institutions, and the number is set to grow as both countries work towards deepening their education ties.
Through my time in Malaysia and my earlier postings in Indonesia and India, I have been fortunate to learn from the rich culture, history, and creative thinking of leading institutions and academics in Asia.
As such, I stand alongside all international students in saying that now, more than ever, international education experiences are an invaluable way to grow personally and professionally.
Studying in another country enables us to better understand the people, cultures and global opportunities of the 21st century. That is why, irrespective of broader global uncertainties at the moment, I am confident that families and students will continue to seek out an international education experience in countries that provide a friendly, safe and world-class learning environment.
Pathway to the future
The collaborative efforts in education between the people, institutions and governments of Malaysia and New Zealand have built an enduring set of relationships between our countries over the last sixdecades.
These relationships will continue to yield benefits for our young people who forge out into an increasingly complex and changing world, by providing quality education and career experiences for students of both countries.
We are fortunate to have such partnerships, and look forward to celebrating the next 60 years of diplomatic ties between our countries.
Dr John Subritzky is New Zealand’s High Commissioner to Malaysia.