Education is becoming increasingly two-way between China and New Zealand, thanks to Chinese government programs like the Confucius Institutes, a senior New Zealand academic said Friday.
While more than 24,000 Chinese students were studying in New Zealand, a rise of 14.8 percent over the last two years, more New Zealand students were taking up study in China, said Universities New Zealand incoming chair and Vice Chancellor of Waikato University Professor Roy Crawford.
"There are numerous programs which encourage New Zealand students to take up opportunities in China, such as the Chinese government's Confucius Institute summer school scholarships," Crawford told the Inaugural New Zealand China Partnership Forum in Beijing, according to a statement from Waikato University.
In addition to the economic benefits of the education relationship, the spirit of "partnership and understanding" was hugely valuable.
"A student who studies in either country will obtain a unique understanding of the other country's culture," he said.
"Chinese students who have studied in our country are ' ambassadors' for New Zealand on their return home. Such alumni not only contribute greatly to the goodwill between our two countries, but they are also an important pool of talent when New Zealand companies doing business with China are looking for staff."
The bilateral free trade agreement had resulted in positive initiatives such as the establishment of a reciprocal doctoral research scholarship and an agreement that both countries work together on quality assurance for courses with a distance education component, he said.
The forum was held as part of Prime Minister John Key's trade delegation to China, which has seen the two governments sign a new Strategic Education Partnership to boost collaboration.