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Higher Education Down Under: Six Months in the Life of a Student Marketeer - following Odette Treadwell

Spend six-months with our student marketeer Down Under. Whether in East London or her homeland New Zealand Penna’s Client Manager Odette Treadwell has been planning multi-layered campaigns and engaging international students for her global client base. Here’s her account of sub-tropical working life with Penna Education.

January 2021

It’s one of the coldest Januarys on record. It’s dark, everything is shut. Like everyone else, I’m daydreaming of sun and a diet that doesn’t consist of root vegetables and soups.

February 2021

After working from home for a year, it becomes evident that working from NZ wouldn't be all too different to working in my flat in East London. Thanks to Penna’s flexibility, it was agreed - I could go back home and see my family, but I would work 7:30am - 2:30pm UK time. This way I could still speak to clients and work with my team, but I wasn't having to navigate a full 12-hour time difference. It also meant sun and no more soup.

March 2021

I arrive in New Zealand and do mandatory managed isolation for two weeks. This was organised though the New Zealand government, and upon arrival to Auckland I was quickly transported to a hotel. Whilst I was there, I worked through the night and slept during the day. It made the time go by very quickly.

Whilst in managed isolation, I was busy working across big annual campaigns with a client we’ve worked with for many years now. These included preparing proposals for their upcoming Clearing activity, Open Days, and their International recruitment strategy. We like to plan these well in advance of live dates. This is so we have time to develop a more nuanced strategy and optimise the campaigns as they go live.

April 2021

I’m out of managed isolation! Whilst I’m sad I no longer have meals delivered to me three times a day, I’m very happy to see my family. I maintained client calls during this time and enjoyed the few hours in the 'morning' (my evenings) when I was the only one online. This was time where I could catch up on emails from the day prior.

I spent the mornings in New Zealand catching up on sleep, and the afternoons enjoying the sub-tropical weather I grew up with, often going to the beach with friends. Oh, what a life… For reference, New Zealand is the closest country to the South Pole - it isn't close to anything else! Its nearest neighbour, Australia, is still a 4-hour flight away.

This is one of the main reasons why New Zealand could close their borders when the pandemic first started. On top of this, it has a very small population of 4 million people. Due to these key reasons, life in NZ over the past 14 months has continued in a relatively normal fashion.

May 2021

I have some time off and I travel down the country to see some old friends. A few of them are pursuing their master’s. They started these last year during the height of the pandemic, and not because they were worried about the economy or because they had reconsidered their priorities over lockdown, but because they simply wanted to.

While I was planning an increasing amount of campaigns promoting online learning, they went to university every day, had classes together and secured work experience. Unlike university students around the world, nothing about their university experience had changed due to the pandemic.

June 2021

I’m back in East London and reflecting on life in NZ as things start to open-up here. How will New Zealand recruit international students while their borders remain closed? Its biggest industry is tourism, and universities rely heavily on international students. Every year, 120,000 international students would enter the country. Growing up in Auckland, I was surrounded by international students and my family even hosted some.

With the borders being closed, the Higher Education sector in NZ has lost up to $500 million NZD since the pandemic started. Research suggests it will take up to 10 years for New Zealand to recover from this.

However, this loss of income has been accepted in NZ as a price they had to pay to live freely. Whilst the decline in international students has had a major impact, the New Zealand government has decided to move forward and re-think their international recruitment strategy all together.

Instead of focusing on large volumes of students from China and India, universities in New Zealand are making themselves visible in other markets such as Malaysia and Canada. They're placing emphasis on promoting courses that would help to improve industries in New Zealand and they're utilizing the fact that New Zealand is one of the safest places to study right now.

How does this work if the borders remain closed?

They're mainly doing this through their 'Global Pathways to New Zealand' scheme. This allows students to start studying at a university in New Zealand online. Once the borders open, they will be eligible to study on-campus.

Another incentive is the opportunity to gain New Zealand qualifications that would enable international students in the future to work in New Zealand more easily (presumably in sectors that would help New Zealand's economy and create more diversity within them).

According to ENZ, currently 5,000 international students study NZ education offshore through Global Pathways New Zealand. The NZ government also allowed 250 international students to enter in 2020, and another 1,000 students are expected to arrive this year.

Whilst the Higher Education sector in New Zealand has certainly taken a knock due to the pandemic, it has tackled it in a straight-forward and simple way. Time will tell if this strategy will work. Probably the most effective international recruitment strategy that New Zealand has deployed though, has been in proving to the world that when things get bad, being close to the South Pole isn't a bad thing.

Odette Treadwell is Client Manager at Penna.
To get in touch with Odette, email and for more information about international student attraction and recruitment, click the tab ‘What we do’.

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