26 Aug 2013

Another NZ university wants to attract more Pacific students

5:41 pm on 26 August 2013

Another New Zealand university wants to attract more students from the Pacific.

After Waikato University earlier this month sent a delegation to Samoa and Victoria extended its involvement with Papua New Guinea, Lincoln University has unveiled plans to treble the number of PNG students studying there.

It has signed a memorandum of understanding to extend its involvement with the North Fly electorate of Western Province.

Lincoln's vice chancellor, Dr Andrew West, says he believes the university has a role to play in educating Papua New Guineans using New Zealand farming systems.

ANDREW WEST: Our involvement is actually to bring students from PNG to New Zealand to train them and educate them at Lincoln in agriculture, horticulture, environmental management. So we're giving them the skills, if you wish, to be able to go back equipped to develop land for agriculture. So we think that we can do that, we think we can do that using New Zealand systems and New Zealand farming systems. We think they are transportable. PNG thinks they are transportable, too. You're learning the systems of how to grow plants, how to maintain animals, how to manage the environment. And we think that's transportable.


DON WISEMAN: So their students actually come to Lincoln. It's a very, very different environment, though. It's very hot. It's very wet. What sort of tropical knowledge do you have at Lincoln?

AW: Well, obviously, we have knowledge of some elements of the tropics. But, in fact, what we find, and we've found this before in educating Malaysian students, for example, that we can use crops like wheat at exemplar production systems for palm kernel, in horticulture, floriculture. Of course you might be in glasshouse environments anyway in terms of pest containment. So what we're finding is we have systems in New Zealand that can be, in terms of educating people about the basics of agriculture and how the components fit together, how you manage pests, weeds and disease, how you maximise growth and how you manage soils, that we are able to do that in a way that is transportable into the tropics.

DW: You clearly have quite a close link with this part of PNG. How many students have you got there at the university at the moment?

AW: We've got about 30 students.

DW: How many do you anticipate bringing in with this expanded scheme?

AW: Yeah, over time we'd like to grow that to something north of 100, maybe peaking at 100. See if we can attract that many students who really want to come to Lincoln and study. So that's a significant expansion. But in terms of our total student numbers, it's not enormous. And of course part of this is actually being able to create the right pastoral care environment. So if you're coming from quite a difficult culture in Papua New Guinea to study in the South Island of New Zealand we need to be able to put in the pastoral care and the support for students so they can succeed academically. That's why we want to grow this in a staged way and not try and make it as large as it can possibly be, because quality is the aim here.